January 25, 1996
Mr. Ray Carrol
Pima County Board of Supervisors
130 West Congress Street
I object to the proposed development of the Canoa Ranch as presently planned by Fairfield, for several reasons, all ultimately related to the shortsightedness of the project and the quality, unsustainable.
It is not the density of the projected population, which I could envision as being much higher, but the manner in which that population is to cover the land and utilize the water that is objectionable. The rural suburban areas as evidenced in Green Valley and undoubtedly those planned are a degradation of the watershed primarily through the increase in rapidity of an unabsorbed runoff, an immediate channeling of any rainfall to the Santa Cruz River, increasing the flood potential to downstream areas. The design of a community in the desert to surround golf courses irrigated with drinking water is a fantastic transferal of English green grass countrysides into the sunny desert with no consideration for sustainable water consumption: it is clearly hypocritical to pretend to construct active management areas for water conservation and then to approve golf courses which must be subsidized by downstream users of potable water.
The rural suburban community is highly dependent upon private automobile transportation for its functionality, and the improbability of continuation of this luxurious form of transportation must be considered in any real planning of the future --more so, considering the California failure to include electric powered vehicles in its transportation scheme for the lack of a viable model, the people's opposition to the manifold increase in nuclear reactors that would be needed to inefficiently power such vehicles, and the now public discussion of the unknown consequences of global climate change brought about by fossil fuel combustion. As may be inferred from the book sent to you as a member of the board of supervisors, "Beyond Oil: the Threat to Food and Fuel in the Coming Decades", there is sobering real possibility that the entire US infrastructure built so upon the private automobile shall find itself soon essentially obsolete, due to the physics of energy conversion and extraction effort, quite within Fairfield's projected build-out time. Adjustment to that presently imminent reversal in patterns of energy consumption will be in the direction of locally produced agricultural products, away from long distance individual commutes, less replacement of farm labor by fossil fuels, and probably with intense migration into the sunbelt.
A narrow strip of soil amidst so much undeveloped land and deposited over countless millennia, that fallowed agricultural bottomland planned for golf course construction is unique in that it could be integrated into a wiser utilization of the watershed by replenishing the groundwater through broad retention and distribution of flood waters within an agricultural regimen, thus achieving in addition the deposition of suspended soil particles, a now almost unheard of increase in quality and quantity of agricultural soils.
People live in the desert, and elsewhere, in opposition to agriculture, unwilling to leave the water that they use acceptable for crops. And they are certain that technological miracles will move them beyond the necessity to consider their relation to the natural world and its finiteness.
I shall be surprised if these words and effort shall amount to more than wasted paper, but having been raised at the lower end of the Canoa land grant and having farmed in the upper and lower Santa Cruz Valley, I must at least for the record state my objection. As those charged with planning the future, you must decide whether you are envisioning correctly what must come, or whether you are determining only who gathers the short-term profits at the expense of the future, assuming that Fairfield can cash out before falling into bankruptcy.
This graph is an updated depiction of the cycle of US continental crude oil production and its relation to the original Hubbert Curve, and it has no significant correlation with the concepts of supply-demand economics, being rather a novel experience of supply-exhaustion.
I fear that you will prefer to believe in the endless capacity of humans to build as they fancifully envision without regard for integration into ecosystems, in an access with unchanging effort to sources of energy ever without limit, and in the traditional "invisible hand" of the market as the wisest of guides, the solver of all problematique. Why should you entertain a different vision than that of other governmental bodies, or alter now the much evidenced disregard for agricultural potential? Why should we begin to resolve this dead-end fossil fuel direction before the quarterly GNP is blatantly affected?
At least I have presented a reality that remains yet to be refuted; whether you will perceive a seriousness of situation, or whether you will dismiss it based upon the habitual faith, is yours to belabor.
Institute of Physics
National Autonomous University of Mexico
Apartado Postal 73-253, cp. 03311
cps. Members of Pima County, Arizona, Board of Supervisors
Richard S. Walden, President, Farmer's Investment Company
NetNews groups: sci.environment, talk.environment
[Delivered to all supervisors of Pima County, Arizona, January 26, 1996]