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December 6, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Climate

  |   Video
  • This past November was one of Arizona’s warmest on record. Learn about Arizona’s weather outlook with State Climatologist Nancy Selover and Randy Cerveny, a President’s Professor of Geographical Sciences. Both are with Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.
  • Nancy Selover - State Climatologist
  • Randy Cerveny - President Professor of Geographical Sciences, Arizona State University
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: arizona, climate, forecast, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: It appears that 2012 will go down as the warmest year in U.S. history. The National Climatic Data Center says 2012 will almost certainly surpass the record average temperature of 54.3 degrees Fahrenheit average set in 1988. It's not Arizona's warmest year, but it will definitely make the top 10. Here to talk about what's going on are two climate experts from ASU's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. Nancy Selover, Arizona's state climatologist, and Randy Cerveny, a president's professor of geographic sciences and director of ASU's meteorology program. November, December. No doubt about it, it is warm out there. Why?
Nancy Selover: For us, we're looking at the potential start of a La Nina pattern. For the previous part of the year, we had a la nina last year. Very few winter storms came down this far and that’s kind of whats happening to the rest of the country as well.
Ted Simons: How unusual is this, Randy?
Randy Cerveny: Pretty unusual. It's a little bit of a feedback mechanism, when you start to get areas with no snow, then that stays warm and it forces the cold air to stay up in Canada. The fact that we had literally no snowcover across the United States right now has helped to amplify this heating that we've had over the fall. It's something that unfortunately you don't see any easy way out, it tends to keep building and building.
Ted Simons: Are we seeing similar variations around the world, maybe unusual patterns around the world? Or is this something hitting America right about now? Any ideas on that?
Randy Cerveny: It was one of the wettest years on record in Great Britain. Their entire month of July, I don't think it went a day without raining in Great Britain. They have a storm going on over them right now. The weather patterns, as Nancy was mentioning, the weather patterns associated with the jet stream have kind of locked into place. Places get storm after storm like great Britain, and others get nothing, like us.
Ted Simons: It seemed like El Nino was shaping up in the summer and fall. Where did it go?
Nancy Selover: Disappeared, I don't know, maybe he's shy. We've had two back-to-back La Nina years, and it looked like the pattern was going back to El Nino. It got into El Nino early in the summer and then started to back off by September, back to a neutral condition. Right now somebody, a gentleman up in Colorado, thinks there's still a possibility that El Nino could develop, but he's not holding his breath and I'm not either.
Ted Simons: Are we still in a drought in Arizona?
Nancy Selover: Yes, we are.
Ted Simons: What does that mean?
Nancy Selover: If we don't start getting some precipitation soon we will be degrading most of the state. Right now most of the state is in a severe drought. A lot of the state is in moderate drought and a number of places are in severe drought. We've been in drought in Arizona for well over 14 years.
Ted Simons: My goodness. 14 years for a drought, unusual?
Nancy Selover: Not so much, for us. They tend to come in spurts. The worst one we had was back at the end of the 1800s, and that's what led to the Roosevelt Dam and Salt River Project, in terms of water supply. And then in the 1950s we had an extended almost 20 years that were relatively dry. Meaning we had more dry years than wet years. Then we had a really wet period in the 1970s and 1980s and early 1990s and now we've moved to dry. It's not a set number of years.
Ted Simons: We've got a drought here, Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast causing havoc. We've got storms pounding the west coast, raining in Great Britain all the time. Is all of this somehow connected?
Randy Cerveny: Well, yes, in that the events that cause one place's weather also impact the places around the world. But we have to keep in mind that we are also a factor that's involved with this. For example, Superstorm Sandy, that's the term everybody used, was a hurricane. It was only a Category 1 hurricane. It hit Florida, and they hardly noticed it. The big difference with Sandy is it hit the most populated area of the United States and they weren't ready for it. Is it climate change that we have a weak hurricane that hits that area? Or is it a calamity because they weren't ready for a weak hurricane to hit them? One of the things we have to be aware of, it doesn't really matter whether global warming is occurring or not. We have to think about whether we are prepared.
Ted Simons: That's a good point. Is it always going to be in the 80s in early to mid December in Arizona from now on? If so, I'm going to buy new clothes. Everybody wants to know how to prepare. Is global warming happening? Will it continue? Will the polar icecaps continue to melt?
Nancy Selover: It's not a set path of everything just gets warmer and warmer and warmer. If that's the case, this would be the warmest, replacing last year. If we are the warmest this year, it will be replacing 1998, which is more than 10 years ago. So there's a lot of variability involved in this. I don't think we will see 80-degree temperatures throughout December. We may well get into the 80s in December. There's no month in Phoenix that we haven't had 80-degree temperatures in our history. Usually it's small spurts, not giant week-long or two-week-long spurts.
Ted Simons: Randy, the idea we're trying to figure out, are these unusual weather patterns or the new norms?
Randy Cerveny: One aspect that is the new norm is the fact that we are having a very discrete impact at the local level. Our city growth has changed the climate locally. The center of Phoenix is much warmer than the outskirts. It called the urban heat island effect. We've watched that and measured it over the last 50 years. Our nighttime temperatures are increasingly hotter, even though the rest of the state doesn't experience that, simply due to the fact that the heat from all of our buildings and asphalt keeps the temperatures warmer than they would otherwise be.
Ted Simons: And with that urban heat island affect, what does that have to do with weather here? Obviously nighttime temperatures are higher?
Nancy Selover: Nighttime temperatures tend to be higher, certainly, summer and winter. But it's not -- we have -- we've had a number of people that have looked at, does the heat island steer storms around the city or block them or whatever. Theoretically, because we have all of this warmest air near the downtown area, it would be rising and tend to be sucking in, tending to create storms over the city. That's not what's going on. The storms are steered down off Mogollon Rim. When they get to the dry space which is Phoenix, all day long, whatever moisture we've had has evaporated, it's carried away and gone. We have drier air over the city, so the storms get here and run out of energy. Sometimes they will hit the East Valley before they run out of energy, and sometimes they actually come through and Phoenix gets a storm and we all cheer.
Ted Simons: Are there ways to address the heat island effect that we're not looking at? The rooftops, reflecting off the rooftops, what's going on with the plans?
Nancy Selover: There are a lot of strategies being looked at. ASU has a number of people looking at strategies with permeable pavements so you can do urban forestry. You can put more trees in because the tree root doesn't die because it's in this little three foot by three foot box. Air is not heated by the sun. It's heated because the surface is hot and the air is heated by proximity to the surface and it's carried up. Cool air strategies, green roof strategies, not just the color that reflects the sun but there are properties in the paints and materials that don't absorb as much radiation as some of the materials we've used in the past.
Ted Simons: What are we going to do about these haboobs in the summertime? It looks like a Ken Burns documentary out here. Are we going see more of these things?
Randy Cerveny: That's a nice analogy. The storms created during the Dust Bowl basically are the same storms we see over the summer. The great haboob of last year was a result in part of all that dust that had been accumulating because of the dry conditions that we've had. You get a storm that doesn't have rain, all it really has is wind and we get these big dust bowls. They had no storms in the dust bowl days, they had no rain.
Ted Simons: A relative thinks of moving to Arizona, what's the weather like out there. What do you say? In the next five to 10 years, what will Arizona's weather and climate be like?
Randy Cerveny: There are some things we can say and some we can't. Our nighttime temperatures in the urban area will continue to gradually get a little bit warmer as the city continues to grow. I think that we can say that if this idea of cyclical drought, as in the 1930s and 1970s and 1990s and so on, that should be coming to an end. We've had 15 to 17 years of drought. By the 2020s, we should get back to a wet period if everything else is consistent. We might have to worry more about more flood situations in Arizona than actually these dry haboobs.
Ted Simons: That'll take a lot of imagination. Good to have you both here.

S.A.N.E. Solution to Federal Immigration

  |   Video
  • Phoenix Attorney Danny Ortega and State Senator-elect Bob Worsley talk about The Real Arizona Coalition’s S.A.N.E. Solution to Federal Immigration.
  • Danny Ortega - Attorney, Phoenix
  • Bob Worsley - State Senator-Elect
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: immigration, federal, solution, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A bipartisan group of business and community leaders has come up with a platform for federal immigration reform. The "Real Arizona Coalition" reached consensus on what it calls the S.A.N.E. solution to federal immigration reform. Here to talk about the platform and representing the "Real Arizona Coalition" is Republican state senator elect Bob Worsley, and Valley attorney Dan Ortega, the immediate past chairman of the National Council of La Raza. Thank you for being here.
Dan Ortega: Good to be here.
Ted Simons: This group is pushing this idea at this time. Why?
Bob Worsley: I believe it's the right time. We have seen a movement and an impact from the Latino voters in the Republican election for President here last -- this last month. And I think almost all the experts are looking back on it and saying, the Republican Party has to have a relationship that's improved with the Latino community.
Ted Simons: Was the election the impetus behind getting this --
Dan Ortega: It provided some motivation, I agree, but I think you've got to look at this issue historically. We tried this in 2007 under President Bush, under a Republican administration,with bipartisan senators making the proposal. So we look back then, and we knew we should have done something. Five years went by and nothing was done and we need to do something. Once again, when President Obama was elected, he promised that he would deliver immigration reform, and it didn't happen. I think the presidential election was the final straw that broke the camel's back, because it was said, and many times, that the reason why there isn't any immigration reform was because Republicans primarily in the House would not allow that kind of legislation to go through. So with the election in November, and the victory by President Obama, and the numbers of Latinos that came out to vote expressing their views on the issue, Republicans I think began to look at this issue much more seriously.
Ted Simons: Is that how you see it, as well? The Republican Party has had an interesting relationship with immigration reform, especially in Arizona. Talk about that dynamic, and why Arizona leaders are now saying we need to look at this again.
Bob Worsley: I think there has been movement leading up to this. My election in Mesa was proof. I basically used this same platform on immigration reform as my platform. Bill Montgomery and I spoke frequently. We refined the ideas as this group was also refining their idea to bring out this week. We were able to win in a Republican primary, in a very conservative district of Mesa. So we saw this movement starting to occur, but it did not happen on a national GOP platform in earnest until I think this election last month.
Ted Simons: Regarding the platform, I notice, respecting and acknowledging contributions of those here, those undocumented that are here, understanding how business relies on undocumented workers, and a rational pragmatic immigration policy needed for commercial and labor interests. These are ideas again, as Danny mentioned, these have been floating around a while. Why would Republicans now decide we need to take a second look at this?
Bob Worsley: Well, I think that we found that in state enforcement only legislation, it did not solve the problem. And that the rest of the issues that were left on the table that need to be dealt with in Washington, that they need to be addressed now or this won't come together. We'll continue to have, I would say, tension between the Hispanic community and Republican lawmakers, and it's just time to move on and get with this program. Otherwise I think Arizona will be purely a Democratic state to count on in one or two elections.
Dan Ortega: I think from a Latino perspective on this issue, the numbers are there for the future, for all to see. 50% of all the children registered in first grade now are Latinos. It seems to me that it behooves all parties to take notice of this surge in the population. From a political standpoint, you can't be beating up on immigrants through enforcement only and not expect the Latino community to react. On the other hand, on the other hand, the federal government has absolutely failed to do what it's supposed to do. So the states have taken it upon themselves to try to deal with the issue. Not necessarily that I agree, but the bottom line is this is the failure of the federal government in dealing with this issue.
Ted Simons: The acronym S.A. N.E., let's start with the S, which is securing the border. I know the question from memory now. What is a secure border? How do we know? Define it for us.
Bob Worsley: It is defined in border patrol terms. They look at the Yuma sector as being under operational control. Which means that more than 90% of the people that cross are interdicted. Yuma is under control, we need to get Tucson sector under control, which is only 20 to 50% under operational control. That's where the time and effort needs to be spent. We are doing it in Yuma, we need now to do it for the rest of the border.
Ted Simons:Can you do that for the rest of the Arizona border? Is that viable?
Dan Ortega: Absolutely, it's viable but it comes through a comprehensive solution. You can't just do it through enforcement. You have to give people avenues to come over legally or we will continue to have a problem with that. I don't think that enforcement to the Latino community is as big of an issue as it used to be. It's there and it's going stay. If things don't come to 100% in Tucson, it'll continue to escalate. Enforcement is only part of the equation. The second part is the accountability.
Ted Simons: That's the A in S.A.N.E.
Dan Ortega: I think that's what we're needing to deal with. To determine how many people are in this country unlawfully. 50% of the people here unlawfully came win a Visa, they just overstayed. The other 50% came in another way. We need to know who they are, where they work, and bring them out of the shadows.
Ted Simons: How do you bring folks out of the shadows? I think we'd all understand, they are not all that excited about coming out of the shadows.
Dan Ortega: If you give them the opportunity to live free, which is with a document that says that they are here legally, you're going see them come out. Look at what happened most recently with the President's executive order for dreamers, allowing a two-year reprieve from deportation. I'm not talking any visa. They came, they applied. They came and lined up.
Ted Simons: So we have an A. Are these hard, firm metrics or do we know when it we see it, when everyone's been accounted for and when the border is secure?
Bob Worsley: I don't think we know how many people are here. But I think we give folks a period of time to come forward a time, a date certain. After that point in time the door closes. And at that point SB 1070 and other laws that stand on the books would allow law enforcement at any level to detain and deport folks that did not come forward. I want to say one thing on coming forward. I've been a pastor for eight years in a Hispanic congregation. The reason I got in this race was I felt the Republican Party in my area was not adequately addressing this with compassion and humanity. I'm telling you, the people I know that do not have documents want to come forward. They want a process. There is not a process today for them to come to this country, if they have low skills, from Central America. There is not a process to come any other way, so they came illegally. They are trying to work and trying to be part of our society. Today they have no way to do it.
Ted Simons: Okay. The N of S.A.N.E. is necessary beaurocratic reforms.
Dan Ortega: We have basically a bottleneck, the fact that people can't immigrate into this country, the long wait. We not only have to create a system for allowing people to come in, allowing people who are here to adjust their status, but also most importantly is to make the system run more smoothly.
Ted Simons: Agree?
Bob Worsley: Yes. This is 1952's system that we're running on. And since September 11th, when those 19 terrorists somehow made their way into our country, I think we've been looking at this like a deer in the headlights, not sure what to do. It's time to calm down and face the fact that we need to update a 1952 system with current technology, where this can be done in a matter of months, not a matter of years.
Ted Simons: And the last letter of S.A.N.E. is E, and that stands for engaging all levels of local and federal and state, again. Things have calmed down a little bit but it's going to gear up again. Are you going to be able to pull this off?
Bob Worsley: We think so. I think the time has come when people are reasonable and rational and ready to deal with this. There will be fringes, people that will never see it our way. this group coming together, Danny and Bob Worsley and Bill Montgomery being in the same room and agreeing on the words in this document, is evidence politically that we can come to the middle and make this happen.
Dan Ortega: Yeah. And clearly if you have a reform, the kind that we're thinking about, there's going to be enforcement. Clearly all levels of government have to be involved in that. You also are going to have to service the people that you are going to allow to come in, and you have to get all levels of government, as well as nonprofits, community organizations.
Ted Simons: Last question. Some will say this is mostly an attempt to soften Arizona's image with regards to immigration. We were hurt with tourist situations, boycotts and these sorts of things. There's not necessarily a heartfelt, we need to get this done because it's the right thing to do, but because we have a black eye on this.
Bob Worsley: I would say that SB 1070 was a cry for help. We were drowning. We have 50% of drug traffic and all human trafficking in the United States coming through Maricopa County. Bill Montgomery is on this task force because he realizes SB 1070 didn't stop that. State enforcement is not the solution. We have to get everything dealt with or this problem will not go away. And the citizens of this state will suffer disproportionately to the rest of the United States.
Ted Simons: And last question for you. The idea this is political expediency more than a heartfelt movement towards doing things right, is that valid?
Dan Ortega: I think the people who are involved in this process and are proposing this, are doing do it sincerely. Keeping in mind a whole bunch of factors, including the human dignity and core values that we have as a country and as a state. The politics and all those things that are important to all Arizonans.
Ted Simons: Good conversation. Good having you here. Thank you for joining us, we appreciate having you here.
Dan Ortega: Thank you, Ted.