Bird on Fire: Lessons from the Worlds Least Sustainable City

Paperback | May 8, 2013

byAndrew Ross

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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 andunrestricted 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 that have excellent publictransit systems and relatively high density, such as Portland, Seattle, or New York. 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 occurmore 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 highlightsthe 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 thisvictory 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 in their responsibility to address climate change.

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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 andunrestricted property rights. In Bird on Fire, emi...

Andrew Ross is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. He is the author of Fast Boat to China, The Celebration Chronicles, Nice Work if You Can Get It, and No-Collar.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:312 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:May 8, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199975523

ISBN - 13:9780199975525

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Table of Contents

By the Time I Got to Phoenix1. Gambling at the Water Table2. The Road Runner's Appetite3. The Battle for DowntownI - Artists Step UpII - Who Can Afford the Green City?4. Living Downstream5. The Sun Always Rises6. Viva Los Suns7. Land for the Free8. Delivering the Good