Arizona’s population growth affects climate, expert says

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Arizona’s population has grown significantly over the past decade. Maricopa County alone grew by more than 600,000 from 2010 to 2020, according to the United States Census Bureau. “More people means there’s more places to live, more infrastructure, more asphalt, more cement, you have more buildings,” said Erinanne Saffell, a climatologist at Arizona State University. .

She says all this growth is causing our temperatures to rise. “Over the past 100 years or so, temperatures have risen about 2 to 2.5 degrees across the state. But if you zoom in and look at the Phoenix metro area, temperatures have risen there over the past 50 years of about 4 to 4.5 degrees,” Saffell said.

Inflation in Phoenix is ​​also above the national average, and with rising home prices, new, more affordable developments are popping up outside the Phoenix metro area. “We put in our concrete and our asphalt, the man-made materials and they hold that heat all night and they release it very slowly at night,” she said.

In turn, this means your air conditioning is running longer because you are trying to cool down and this could mean that your energy bill could also be higher. Saffell says that in these cases, trees can help. “The shade trees are excellent. We must of course choose the right shade trees for an arid environment for a desert. But preventing sunlight from hitting your home in the first place is a good thing,” Saffell said.

She also said pressure is increasing on our already stretched resources, especially water. Saffell says about 36% of the state’s water supply comes from the Colorado River. Fortunately, she says, Arizona diversifies its water resources and most of it is groundwater.