The cost of putting a fire out is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to assessing the total cost of a wildfire. Multiple studies have shown it is less than 10% of the full cost of the disaster, which includes post-wildfire flooding. In this episode, we travel to Flagstaff, Arizona in the midst of one of its worst wildfire seasons in recent history. We look closely at the “Herculean effort” it takes to mitigate severe post-wildfire flooding in the short term, as well as some of the most promising long-term solutions to reduce the risk of wildfire—including a surprising shift in perspective: “fire is not the enemy.”
Phoenix — America's hottest and fastest-growing big city — is on the frontlines in the fight against drought, extreme heat, and wildfire. We bring you stories of how these global problems affect real Arizonans, and what is being done to solve them. This podcast series is supported by the Arizona Community Foundation and Intel.
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Fire Pt. 2: Sorting Through the Ashes
In April 2022, 50-mile-per-hour winds propelled the Tunnel Fire toward neighborhoods just north of Flagstaff, Arizona where it destroyed 30 homes. Weeks after the fire—and the media attention surrounding it—fizzled out, volunteers, homeowners, and government officials were working tirelessly to clean up the damage and help the community recover. In this episode, we visit the burn site and look at the physical destruction and emotional turmoil wildfire causes, how and why homeowners insurance often fails to cover the cost of rebuilding, and how one disaster often paves the way for more in the future.
Click here for the Leazier family's GoFundMe, where they are raising money to rebuild their home after it was destroyed in the Tunnel Fire.
Fire Pt. 1: Fighting Angry Fires
The average area burned by wildfires in the United States annually has nearly tripled since the 1980s. But perhaps more importantly, those fires have gotten hotter, faster spreading, and more dangerous—placing the future of America's forests in jeopardy. In this first installment of our fire series, we look at how and why wildfires have changed so dramatically in recent decades, and we hear from firefighters about what it is like to fight them.
A Better Food Future: PhD Researcher and Hopi Farmer
Food production is responsible for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions and in the Western United States, 80% of water consumption—but it could be done more sustainably. Michael Kotutwa Johnson is a Hopi traditional farmer, PhD researcher, and opera singer—and he is a proponent of applying Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (or ITEK) to agriculture. Indigenous people across the world have fine-tuned methods for living sustainably in their ecosystems and those methods hold powerful solutions for our biggest environmental problems.
Water Pt. 3: Old Technology
Fast-growing Phoenix is sometimes thought of as a “new” or “up and coming” place without much history. But as we learn in this episode, it was actually born from the ashes of a thriving culture with centuries of accumulated knowledge about how to thrive and grow food in a dry desert. In this third part of our water series, we look to the past for solutions to our current-day water problems. We explore the engineering prowess of Phoenix’s original inhabitants and travel to Ajo, Arizona where some of their descendants are working to revitalize traditional growing methods and water-efficient foods.
Water Pt. 2: The Wild West of Water
In certain parts of Arizona, there are no rules on how much water wells can pump out of the ground. That unlimited access to a finite resource is what economists call a “tragedy of the commons.” In this second part of our three-part water series, we travel to the Sulphur Springs Valley in Southern Arizona to see how unregulated drilling there has impacted hopes for the future and access to water for everyday people. And we’ll learn how the rise of industrial agriculture in the Valley, and across the nation, is contributing to changing rural economies, rising tensions in close-knit communities, and global climate change.
Water Pt. 1: The Drying Lifeline of the Southwest
The Colorado River, or the "Lifeline of the Southwest," is an essential source of water for 40 million Americans in the West, including 80% of Arizonans. But thanks to climate change, it is drying up—and the effects are being felt unequally. On this first installment of our three-part series on water use in the desert, we visit a 30-year-old man whose 100-year-old family business is at risk of falling apart.
Note: Our water episodes are a collaboration with the Ten Across initiative. They focus on the future of the U.S. by looking at the most pressing issues of our time through the lens of the Interstate 10 corridor.
Phoenix City Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari
Phoenix-area-raised Yassamin Ansari worked on climate issues as a policy advisor at the United Nations before she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Phoenix City Council in 2021. InHospitable host Anthony Wallace spoke with her at the Hear Arizona studios about how she got involved in climate action through a desire to help refugees, how Phoenix’s reputation among some as the “world’s least sustainable city” has shifted, and how she and other leaders are looking to make a cooler and carbon-neutral Phoenix through planting trees and promoting biking, public transit, and electric vehicles.
In Phoenix, the temperature is climbing and heat deaths are rising. Hear from the people most vulnerable to heat (elderly and homeless) and the experts fighting to help them. Plus, meet neighborhood activists who reveal how heat exposes systemic inequality and learn what heat-beating innovations are on the horizon.