The Southwest is ground zero for some of the most pressing issues threatening our way of life. We know from personal experience, as well as data over time, that Arizona and its neighboring states are getting drier and hotter. We are witnessing significant cuts in the Colorado River water supply, as well as heat waves, droughts and wildfires with increasing strength and frequency.
As is the case around the world, those who are the most vulnerable are impacted the most. In Arizona, people who can't afford air conditioning or proper housing are dying in growing numbers from heat-related causes.
We cannot prepare for the future without addressing these long-term threats. It would be my hope that incoming elected officials will make global change one of the centerpieces of their legislative action.
Earth's systems, like politics, are not static. We live in a dynamic system that is changing rapidly. The speed and scale of change means that we require different political action from what was needed in the past.
We have pushed the life-supporting systems of our planet past their limits, and those effects are directly putting the people in the Southwest at risk. We must all work together — politicians, civil servants, researchers and citizens — to identify and enact the best policies that can adapt to multiple, interdependent stressors.
Given the urgency with which we must act to avoid moving from crises to catastrophes, we need elected leaders who look to the future and are willing to act now.
Edited by Sadie Buggle, Piper Hansen, Greta Forslund and Luke Chatham.
Peter Schlosser is the vice president and vice provost of the Global Futures Initiative at ASU. He is a professor of global futures in the School of Sustainability, the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the School of Sustainable Engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to email@example.com. Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.