Read Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City by Andrew Ross Online


Phoenix, Arizona is one of America's fastest growing metropolitan regions. It is also its least sustainable one, sprawling over a thousand square miles, with a population of four and a half million, minimal rainfall, scorching heat, and an insatiable appetite for unrestrained growth and unrestricted property rights. In Bird on Fire, eminent social and cultural analyst AndrPhoenix, Arizona is one of America's fastest growing metropolitan regions. It is also its least sustainable one, sprawling over a thousand square miles, with a population of four and a half million, minimal rainfall, scorching heat, and an insatiable appetite for unrestrained growth and unrestricted property rights. In Bird on Fire, eminent social and cultural analyst Andrew Ross focuses on the prospects for sustainability in Phoenix--a city in the bull's eye of global warming--and also the obstacles that stand in the way. Most authors writing on sustainable cities look at places like Portland, Seattle, and New York that have excellent public transit systems and relatively high density. But Ross contends that if we can't change the game in fast-growing, low-density cities like Phoenix, the whole movement has a major problem. Drawing on interviews with 200 influential residents--from state legislators, urban planners, developers, and green business advocates to civil rights champions, energy lobbyists, solar entrepreneurs, and community activists--Ross argues that if Phoenix is ever to become sustainable, it will occur more through political and social change than through technological fixes. Ross explains how Arizona's increasingly xenophobic immigration laws, science-denying legislature, and growth-at-all-costs business ethic have perpetuated social injustice and environmental degradation. But he also highlights the positive changes happening in Phoenix, in particular the Gila River Indian Community's successful struggle to win back its water rights, potentially shifting resources away from new housing developments to producing healthy local food for the people of the Phoenix Basin. Ross argues that this victory may serve as a new model for how green democracy can work, redressing the claims of those who have been aggrieved in a way that creates long-term benefits for all. Bird on Fire offers a compelling take on one of the pressing issues of our time--finding pathways to sustainability at a time when governments are dismally failing their responsibility to address climate change....

Title : Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780199828265
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 312 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City Reviews

  • Justin
    2018-11-27 23:38

    Bird on Fire might seem, on the surface, an odd choice to give five stars to as it's not really a book most people would just pick up and read. It's about urban planning for one, and even more specifically, the way truly progressive planning gets hampered by the political powers that be. Secondly, it's dry as hell, a tome utterly fixated on presenting evidence depicting the ways policy dictates sustainability. Thirdly, it's about Phoenix of all places, which has to be one of the least desirable cities in America - a distinction Bird on Fire does little to dispel.But for the slow, meticulous, flash-less document on a city in crisis that it is, Andrew Ross's book is a masterpiece of information analysis and reporting. In it's own, fixated way, Bird is a true epic, with a breathtaking scope that at least feels as if it's leaving no corner unturned of Phoenix's decades-long descent into an unsustainable dead zone of a metropolis. All the topics you would expect are here, from the hidden downfalls of a water system that magically brings water to more than 4 million people in the middle of a desert to an economic engine built on real estate growth and literally nothing more - where other cities were harmed by the Great Recession, Phoenix was decimated.Ultimately, Bird is about environmental justice, looking closely at poor Phoenix communities (who, like most poor communities, have the most to lose from bad city planning) and, most fascinatingly, Arizona immigrants, both illegal and otherwise. Arizona is infamous for its attempted crack-downs on immigration into the state from Mexico, but as Ross ably demonstrates, it's idiotically designed metropolises like Phoenix who are one of the primary causes of immigration, as "climate refugees" are increasingly driven from their weather-fraught lands by the sweeping effects of climate change.Bird on Fire is not a pick-me-upper, and doesn't even pretend to be optimistic, but as the subtitle suggests, in meticulously chronicling the worst-planned city imaginable, it has a lot to teach future generations of city planners and policy makers. It should be required reading of every public official involved with urban development, Phoenix-bound or no.

  • Carol
    2018-11-21 05:33

    In case you couldn't tell from the clever title, the city is Phoenix, and the book is depressing. The city should not exist, really, unless it reduced itself to about 40,000 residents who live in xeriscaped adobe huts. Phoenix is the product of rampant boosterism attracting highly polluting and totally boom-and-bust-cycle-dependent businesses, the biggest of which is housing. The city could have let the world in solar energy development, but for many frustrating reasons, has not. If there is a good thing about life here (other than the sun and my relatives who live there), Ross does not share it. So why read this? Not to feel better about wherever you live, although you certainly could do that. No, this book comes at a time when the whole country risks making many of the bad decisions Phoenix has, so this is almost literally a textbook example of how not to make a place to live. "Textbook" is actually an apt description, as Ross is a professor and his writing leans to the academic's love of long unvaried sentences. But Ross not only knows his history and policy but he also talked to a wide range of Phoenicians who offer varying perspectives on their city and it's fate.

  • Paul Frandano
    2018-12-08 02:52

    Many of us read in the hope that, from time to time, we might come across a book that will change our lives; avid readers occasionally have this experience and are alert to its recurrence. Ross's Bird on Fire whacked me onto more or less a different path of reasoning, and in that sense, certainly opened up some possibilities. His topic is the City of Phoenix, AZ, and what I'd like to say is "sustainable growth" - in parched climes like that of Phoenix, perhaps a virtual oxymoron - but instead it's just "sustainability." Growth is somewhat problematic for what it's wrought. And Phoenicians must recognize that sustainability is well-nigh impossible given their unsustainable water picture. But to recognize the impossibility of their water situation amid a decade-long drought, with little prospect of surcease, Phoenicians would have to blast their real-estate driven model of growth to bits. And, barring a catastrophe, that seems unlikely to happen our lifetimes, as Ross tells the tale, after scores of interviews with Phoenicians of every walk of life. And it will surely not happen as long as Midwesterners continue to throng to Phoenix and the city remains able to tie up regional water resources - such as the relatively recent court-awarded bounty granted to the Gila River Indian Reservation - that might be bought or traded for to support additional building. And therein lies a complex story, as the interaction of economy and environment is invariably a complex phenomenon. Ross's sustainability has layer after worrisome layer but in the end comes down to the two Phoenixes (or, to generalize, even to god-help-us John Edwards' Two Americas), exemplified by the suburban sections north of town, where the affluent make pious choices to buy a Prius, eat organic, support endangered species, and the other, south side of town, where whole communities are treated as dumping grounds for waste disposal and hazardous industry, where NIMBY rules simply don't obtain. In the long run, Ross writes, "there is nothing sustainable...about one population living the green American dream while, across town, another is still trapped in poverty and pestilence." In our lush, leafy, tranquil suburbs, we seldom have much of an idea how that other half truly lives and what miserable circumstances it at times is forced to endure. Many, but surely not most, will know some of this in the abstract, or from the news, or from actual experience. Nor do we often take the time to focus on that. We read a book that bares such elemental truths, in a dispassionate, sympathetic voice, and a sense of guilt - "liberal guilt," a salutary emotion - may set in. The solution, apart from a mad rush out the door to do good works, seems a Quixotesque quest for ending eco-apartheid and achieving genuine justice, which would entail a kind of minimax conditionality for entire communities, all the way up to the national level: grow, yes, by all means, because without growth the wherewithal for solutions might not exist, making change at best difficult - but figure out how to do so in a way that also advantages the least members of your community and leaves something for posterity...which is essentially a definition of "sustainable growth." In 2012, this is a ferociously difficult injunction under current rules. The least we might then do is spend some time thinking about how, increment by increment, we might begin to make that happen. The problem, of course, is that the rules 90 percent of us are playing by are market-driven ones...rules, both formal and informal, we tend to agree with, that leave ample freedom of action, rules that are adjustable, to be sure, to suit a variety of conditions, not graven in stone tablets. But rules that simple cannot provide all the answers we may be looking for. Moreover, in the instance at hand, Ross is talking about Arizona, which isn't in the transcultural empathy business these days and has traditionally been on the receiving end of eco- and economic immigrants in flight from dried out windblown ranch and farmland, newly devoid of water and livelihoods. We read about that in the news.I'm beginning to ramble: Andrew Ross has knocked me out of a comfort zone in which I wasn't quite aware I had been cosseted, into a zone of nervous disquiet. (And I really should've known better, having grown up in the heart of NJ's "Cancer Alley.") Ross's subtitle implies that there are "lessons" we can draw from the experience of Phoenix, and there are. But he doesn't produce drumrolls and trumpet fanfares to announce them: he would rather his readers weigh his narrative and evidence and reach their own conclusions. And nearly a week after finishing this challenging, quietly confrontational work, I'm still thinking about what to do. A good book can do that. And I have a few ideas.

  • Laura Callanan
    2018-12-11 01:23

    This terrific book discusses the intersecting questions of sustainability at play in what he argues is the least sustainable city Phoenix, AZ. The author looks at urban sprawl, local agriculture, immigration issues, Eco-apartheid and urban planning as issues through which to understand how a place like Phoenix struggles with the need for a new way to approach urban growth and ecological sustainability. Ultimately, the author argues that it all comes down to questions of equity and environmental justice. In the final chapter the author states his conclusions based on his various analyses of the questions, arguing that greening capitalism won't work. It will only continue a pattern of Eco-apartheid that had been ever intensifying over the elastic few decades. The focus needs to be on fairness, justice, and an equitable distribution of resources--not on profits.

  • Douglas Edward
    2018-12-03 01:43

    It first has to be asked, if the author in his two years in the valley practiced what he preached. Did he eat all vegetarian food in the valley and throughout his life outside of the valley (meat is shown to be one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases)? Did he take public transportation everywhere or walk? Did he find a green book manufacturer to publish his book? All too often these "educators" of sustainability, wish to dictate to the people how they live their lives, while at the same time living a life that has a carbon footprint of more than 10 people. A recent example in case is President Barack Obama, who went to California and gave a speech on the drought while later, playing golf at a course that uses millions of gallons of water. Harrison Ford and Al Gore have many mansions and private jets, while at the same time telling the public how they should cut back for climate change. So I question if he is a hypocrite like just these three examples given.One of the more asinine theories made by Ross, is that illegal immigrants make Phoenix more green and sustainable. He uses the remarks of the city archaeologist, to try and make a stretched parallel between the ancient Hohokam having migrant labor that left after helping in certain seasons (as the theory goes), and that of immigrants today who stay for extended periods or permanently. To somehow say that increased permanent immigrant population does not have an effect on sustainability is stupidity. You can't have it both ways. Either there IS a sustainablility-green problem, that would clearly be exacerbated by an influx of immigrants that add more carbon, more demand on water, or population has zero effect on sustainability. Make no mistake about it, this is not a man who goes by facts--he twists facts to fit his own beliefs. On a personal note, I take no issue with immigrants.Andrew Ross continually claims that because Phoenix is in a desert it should not be there. Civilization started in the desert. He also implies, that there is some water crisis with Phoenix in the future. This is simply not true. SRP has put infrastructure in place that was begun over 100 years ago, such as many reservoirs large enough to hold enough water for many years without additional inflow (lakes Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon, Saguaro) and underground aquifers that hold massive amounts of water. It is also important to note that these reservoirs have had upgrades that have taken decades to construct, to increase their capacity. Still, Mr. Ross made no mention of any of this.He continually tries to tie development in greater Phoenix to the low Colorado river, when agriculture accounts for nearly 80% of consumption of the river. Ross makes no mention of voluntary education programs in water conservation that have cut water usage to less than that seen in the 1980s, when the population was a lot less in Phoenix. The book tries to be critical of a 2006 referendum called prop 207, that was in response to eminent domain and forced zoning ideologies on property owners, such as historic preservation ordinances. The author is clearly driven by political opinion of the left and is hostile to property rights and individual freedom and liberty. Ross offers really no solutions to the problems he raises. I would give this book -2 if I could.

  • Emily
    2018-11-19 22:33

    Invited by Future Arts Research, an Arizona State University institute, to “come and do research of [his] choosing in Phoenix”(19), Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University endeavored “to take the social and political temperature of Metro Phoenix” (17). Historical research and 200 interviews with the region’s “more thoughtful, influential, and active citizens” (17) prove the Sunbelt a feverish place, whose post-war metropolitan growth provides a nationally instructive case study. In this book, Ross both challenges and empowers the Valley of the Sun, saying, “If Phoenix could become sustainable, then it could be done anywhere” (14). Ross argues, however, that the path to sustainability lies not in the eco-technological fixes that we have all been encouraged to accept—recycling programs, water conservation, LEED-certified buildings, enhanced public transportation run on clean fuels, solar energy farms, urban farming, and local food systems—but in changes in “social relationships, cultural beliefs, and political customs” (16). Otherwise, no matter how innovative a technological solution, it is at nearly certain risk of being inequitably applied over social and geographical landscapes, creating and reinforcing what has been termed “eco-apartheid” (17). While he phrases it as a question, Ross rather definitively concludes that, “The key to sustainability lies in innovating healthy pathways out of poverty for populations at risk, rather than marketing green gizmos to those who already have many options to choose from” (239). In this line of thinking, sustainability is not an effort taken on for the good of the Earth or even for future generations of children and grandchildren. It is an endeavor of the current moment that ought to be invested in for the good of “today’s most vulnerable and affected populations” (250), who inequitably suffer environmental injustices, from poor air quality to toxic exposures.

  • Full Stop
    2018-12-06 23:47 by Keith SpencerIt’s a bad time to be an Arizonan. Even my mother, who expatriated from New York 30 years ago, admitted to me recently that our Arizona heritage had become “an embarrassment.” In the past few years the state of my birth, once known for its desert landscape and cowboy history, has been reduced to a string of diminutives in certain, generally liberal coastal circles: “That racist state, with the crazy governor and the fascist sheriff.” Nowadays, when asked where I’m from, I feel compelled to insert asterisks in my answer. “I grew up in Arizona — but haven’t lived there for eight years,” I’ll say. This distinction is necessary for us natives to affirm that our state wasn’t always a punch line; it was only recently that we devolved into a recognizable unflattering stereotype, like Texas, East St. Louis or Gary, Indiana.Of all the four-letter words leveled at Arizona, “green” is rarely one of them. From a strictly literal perspective, green isn’t even a color which dominates the landscape: the Sonoran and Mojave deserts are vast terrains of white sand, punctuated by blue bushes and stately saguaro cacti. The state is landlocked; no beaches to despoil here, and so much of the state’s land is archetypal desert desolation it is hard to imagine land being a limited resource. These prickly facts, along with our inherently anti-communitarian Wild West mentality, make Arizona an especially poor state for any kind of collective social action, “greening” included.Read more here:

  • Lori
    2018-11-18 02:44

    Good overview of political and institutional challenges to sustainability. Ross concludes that efforts towards sustainability should be led by principles of equality, but maybe doesn't go far enough in his critique of capitalism. The history of Phoenix is a really interesting story too.

  • Beth Allen
    2018-12-07 00:35

    They should hand a copy of this to anyone who moves to greater Phoenix from out of town. Fair warning, if your politics are right of center you'll take issue with it. Is it accurate? Well, it's a starting point for investigation, that's for sure.

  • Tyler Hurst
    2018-12-07 00:43

    Not the damning manifesto I expected, but rather a fact-based look at the fragility of Phoenix and cities like it. A must-read for anyone interested in what too many people think is the city of the future. If we did ever live in the clouds or in space, it would look a lot like Phoenix.

  • Danielle
    2018-11-19 02:25

    I grew up a couple hundred miles north of Phoenix and it was always that Shining City in the Valley, so I'm quite intrigued by this book about it as the "world's least sustainable city."

  • Todd Martin
    2018-11-19 03:29

    Bird on Fire is about the problems faced by many big cities (using Phoenix, Arizona as an example). Ross’s contention is that if these problems can be solved in Phoenix (where the hurdles are large due to the limited resources of the desert and the misplaced reliance of the state legislature on ideology over critical thinking and problem solving) that they can be solved anywhere. Ross admits up front that the book’s subtitle Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City is pure hyperbole, and this annoys me to no end. It’s a shame many authors are willing to sacrifice their integrity for a sensationalistic title just to sell a few extra copies. At any rate, the book investigates such topics as energy, pollution, water resources, sprawl, jobs, urban renewal, immigration, and growth. There is no doubt that Phoenix struggles with each of these problems and Ross does a decent job documenting the issues themselves and the failure of the state and local businesses to address them. A few things I felt Ross could have been done better:1. In his discussion of the environment, he focuses too much on groundwater pollution. While solvent contamination of the groundwater under Phoenix is not a good thing, the reality is that no one is getting their drinking water from these contaminated plumes. A much better issue for Ross to have focused his attention would have been air quality, something that everyone experiences (since everyone breaths). Bad air quality leads to elevated rates of emergency room admittances and premature deaths of the elderly and those suffering from asthma and is far more important to resident’s health than the groundwater contamination Ross discusses. 2. Ross gives more credence and influence to fringe individuals and groups than they deserve in some cases. While colorful and perhaps motivated by noble ambitions, the reality is that their influence remains small and in certain instances the individuals are notoriously lacking in credibility. 3. In his discussion of immigration Ross seems to conflate the immigrants that cross the border from Mexico to Arizona with environmental refugees fleeing rising sea levels as a result of global warming. Perhaps I misunderstood his point, but the fact that he kept raising the two issues together as if they were related, at best muddies the waters. I don’t think there is any doubt that immigration is occurring solely due to economic considerations. I also have to take issue with his characterization of any form of discussion relating to population control as “eugenics”. It rivals the absurdity of the Catholic Church’s conflation of contraception with abortion.So … in the end what is the biggest “Lesson from the World's Least Sustainable City”? Probably the most important one is … whatever Phoenix has done … do exactly the opposite.

  • Dan Schiff
    2018-11-27 03:35

    Bird on Fire is half dense academic research project and half passionate screed against ecological degradation. Ross's best writing comes at the book's beginning and end, when he sets out the harsh realities regarding climate change and resource depletion. He calls out many modern technology and development initiatives labeled "green" or "sustainable" as merely perpetuating eco-apartheid, allowing the privileged classes to continue hoarding resources, including water and clean energy, for themselves. In Phoenix, the short-term losers are the Native Americans, Mexican migrants and poor denizens of South Phoenix. But we're all losers in the slightly longer term.Ross's most interesting writing concerns how Phoenix and its environs came to be and the people of the Southwest continuing their obsession with living beyond their means. Settling near a sustainable water source isn't necessary when we can engineer methods of bringing water to us. Pollution (by Motorola and other dirty manufacturers) equals profit. Endless development of suburban subdivisions by any means necessary. Keep out the Mexicans at all costs. The effrontery of many conservative Phoenicians, who go so far as to green-wash the anti-immigrant movement in an effort to appeal to liberals, almost gives the reader a sense of satisfaction that these people will be the first to suffer the ultimate consequences of climate change.Much of Bird on Fire is depressing. Why spend so much time examining the dynamics of a city and region that may be completely uninhabitable 30 years from now anyway? Ross does give reason for hope in some respects -- for example, that a city with such low density can eventually move toward infilling, attracting a new cultural class and encouraging urban agriculture. His quote from Antonio Gramsci -- "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will" -- is certainly apt for this book.

  • Dani Arribas-bel
    2018-11-26 03:35

    The book is an attempt to critically evaluate the concept of sustainability in the metropolitan area of Phoenix, keeping always an eye on the lessons and aspects that may apply beyond the region. Throughout eight chapters, the author exposes his view backed up by an extensive literature review as well as numerous interviews to activists, academics, politicians and citizens engaged in the struggles and key issues of the future of the city. Recognizing its usual low priority in the the policy agenda, Andrew Ross pays particular attention to the idea of environmental justice and the social aspect of sustainability, arguing that the sustainable future will be socially inclusive and just or it will not be.As a foreigner temporary living in Phoenix, the book has been an invaluable source of information to get both the background and history of the city as well as the state of opinion (some of the facts reach past 2011) regarding several key topics. Often times during the months I've been reading the book, I've found myself coming back to some of the facts and background offered in the book and relating many places, names and events to one or another chapter. Definitely a useful read for the newcomer to the region. One last tip (and a mental note to myself): if you are unsure about committing to read the the more than 300 pages, get a taste of the main issues brought to debate as well as the author's position in all of them in the slightly more than 10 pages of the last chapter.

  • Tom
    2018-11-22 05:38

    This book is a fantastically interesting read. The title might make it seem like it would be a philippic against the Sun Belt migration, but it is far more nuanced than that. The book delves into many factors that make cities sustainable or unsustainable. Phoenix has particular issues of water scarcity and the heat island effect that pose unique challenges, especially with anthropogenic climate change, but there are many other issues that apply to all cities. In many ways Phoenix is a parable for any citizen of a developed nation, living far beyond the resources at hand.A concise summary of the issues at play is difficult, but the author delves into the culture of the region, its politics, the tension over immigration, and social justice. All of these areas have a important place in talk about sustainability. It highlights to good work some people are doing as well as the momentous challenges that they face. The best part is how the book clearly brought to mind how I live in Ohio, and how so many of the same issues are present here, although in a slightly more forgiving natural environment.That being said, I still do not like the idea of Americans flocking to a Sun Belt city which has so much pressure on water resources. The city could not have been built without federal water projects and even still the aquifers and rivers of the region are being siphoned out of existence.

  • Tim Hoiland
    2018-12-03 01:28

    When Andrew Ross first came to the Phoenix, he was interested in learning what local artists were doing to revitalize downtown, a desert city with an urban core that, to many urbanists, leaves much to be desired. No city exists in a vacuum, however, and Ross soon came to the conclusion that to understand Phoenix he had to understand the story of the other cities and sprawling suburbs throughout the valley. It was through this research that he concluded that the Phoenix metro area — which includes nine cities with populations of 100,000 or more — was, as he puts it in the subtitle, “the world’s least sustainable city.”Some may take issue with that claim, but Phoenix’s problem is evident: a sprawling population of four million and counting in a sun-scorched desert certainly poses significant sustainability challenges. Further, as Ross argues, a prevailing culture of rugged individualism and a widespread aversion to all forms of regulation have only exacerbated the sustainability challenges...- See more at:

  • Jeffrey W.
    2018-11-27 23:48

    "The vogue for green governance by the numbers is a recipe for managing, rather than correcting, inequality."The passionate, lively Andrew Ross I knew from The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Value in Disney's New Town and Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal seemed to be missing here--except for the stellar concluding summary chapter, which appears to serve as a through-line between those two books. That said, this is still an excellent read, and worthwhile for anyone interested in sustainability, urban planning, cultural inheritance, or ecological/economic/racial injustice as individual issues or in concert.

  • Ben Lowy
    2018-11-21 23:30

    I've been wanting to read this book for quite some time and was only prevented from doing so because of my inability to find it in any bookstore. Once I got a hold of a copy, however, I was not disappointed.It is evident from his style of writing, as well as the subject that matter, that Ross is a proponent of sustainable development, in that social, economic and environmental factors must all be considered for future development. Ross addresses the individual issues faced by Phoenix and then uses this as an example for the problems on local, state, national and global levels.More than anything else, I was impressed by Ross' ability to seamlessly transition from one topic to another. While by no means a breeze to read, he drew upon multiple realms and perspective and actors to create a well-written and informative piece of non-fiction.

  • Robert Dormer
    2018-11-29 02:42

    I started this one with high hopes. Phoenix is, in many ways, emblematic of a number of wider trends in our society that are unsustainable, and anyone with an interest in the subject of how civilizations thrive and decline would do well to study it. To the author's credit, he's intensely passionate about the topic - anyone who puts in as much footwork as he did would have to be - but passion can get to a point where you lose the interest of any potential audience. Ross zooms his microscope in so close that he loses any wider message, focusing on the minutiae of local politics and zoning regulations. The result is tough to wade through sometimes, and unlike most books I've read, I don't feel like I cam away with anything that I'll take with me.

  • Marc
    2018-11-23 21:39

    Lived in Phoenix during much of the main time period the author researched this book, and it does a splendid job at explaining the social scene in the diversity of communities in the Phoenix metro, which never fully made sense to me. It is actually a bit more optimistic in tone and with its anecdotal success stories than one may assume at the outset. I did take note of a number of shots the author takes at Mormons, which he often fails to provide sufficient supporting evidence. Perhaps he is conflating Mormons with the larger business conservative values he derides in most of the book, which became the common perception (via Mitt Romney) around the time of the publishing of this book?

  • Luis
    2018-11-30 01:25

    An interesting look at the rise of Phoenix and it impact on the environment around it. It takes a detailed look at the influence of politics and business has had in creating a city that eats up natural resources with little or no return. Opportunities and options to create a better city have been made according to this book, but private business and politics have worked together to create an model of growth and pollution that in the long run may doom the region. I honestly got a little bored at times. I did enjoy the fact that he spends time not just on environmental issues, but on the immigration issue as a environmental argument.

  • Alice
    2018-11-19 05:39

    I was quite pleasantly surprised by this book - it starts with water (of course) which I am quite familiar with in Arizona (once worked in water there), so I would know if he got it completely wrong, which most writers do. But, he really got down to the basic problems pretty well, in a short and readable way. It made me believe the analysis in the rest of the book more than I would have otherwise. Enjoyable, especially if you have any knowledge of the housing boom in the southwest and the attitudes that still exists out there about sustainability and lifestyles.

  • Rebecca
    2018-12-05 22:45

    This book makes a really strong argument and it's an important intervention amid hoopla around sustainability and "smart growth." It starts off well, but does get a little dry and technical in the middle. From a teaching perspective, I could imagine teaching this in a graduate or advanced undergraduate course to students with a high tolerance for detail, and who also don't demand bland objectivity.

  • Elizabeth Greenfield
    2018-11-30 03:38

    Really interesting stuff, but a slow/academic read. Makes me want to visit Phoenix even less, but also applicable to urban places and the greater southwest area in general. A perfect comprehensive read after taking environmental sociology: sustainable urbanism, sprawl, native Americans, risk society, treadmill vs eco mod, gardening and metabolic rift, resource scarcity, EJ and EH, etc. Definitely interested in reading more stuff by this author.

  • Ashley
    2018-12-10 01:32

    If I could, I would give this book 3.5 stars. While I was excited to read a book that might offer me some insight as to why, as an ecologist, I hate living in Phoenix so much, I found the book to be too pedantic. Facts and figures are hard enough to digest by themselves so having to look up words every other page became tedious and distracted from the main points of the book. Overall, I thought the content was interesting and informative, once you ignored the way it was written.

  • Crystal
    2018-11-28 01:43

    An impressively thorough look at how Phoenix serves as a microcosm of the obstacles to major changes in our approach to the environment. The chapter linking immigration and environmental policy is especially good.

  • Howard
    2018-11-18 04:27

    there's a lot of information here, much of it transferable to other environments than Phoenix. However, the dryness and relative low readability of the book make it a chore to get through.

  • Jeramey
    2018-11-30 05:28

    A good pairing with Desert Visions. Neither of the books knocked my socks off, but I feel like I now know quite a bit about Phoenix after reading the two.

  • Gilda Felt
    2018-11-27 22:23

    Not exactly what I expected, with more time spent on development over what that development did.

  • Karen
    2018-12-14 00:23

    Very intriguing read. Starts incredibly strong, but becomes a bit rushed toward the end. An excellent template for investigations into the politics and problematics of sustainability.