Environmental gap widens in Phoenix
Most people are aware of the growing economic inequality in this country, but fewer are aware of environmental inequality, a worrying trend revealed in a new study of the foliage of Phoenix, Arizona. It’s rather intuitive to think that having more money buys you more open space, shade, and land with cleaner air, but the authors of this study were concerned about the change over time towards greater inequality. Since 1970, Phoenix has grown from 580,000 to near 1.3 million now. Several decades ago, there was no correlation between income and vegetation. But on a scale of 0 to 1, with 0 being no correlation between greenery and wealth and 1 being a perfect correlation, Phoenix now stands at 0.4. And this isn’t just a quibble over nice scenery; in the blistering hot Valley, a tree’s shade can lower the temperature 40 degrees and more vegetation provides fresher air. This hits close to home, as Phoenix is my hometown, and I hope local science and governmental officials work to address this disappointing trend.