Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City

Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City

Title:Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780199828265
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:312 pages

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 and unrestricted 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 like Portland, Seattle, and New York that have excellent public transit systems and relatively high density. 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 occur more 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 highlights the 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 this victory 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 their responsibility to address climate change.


    Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City Reviews

  • Justin

    Bird on Fire might seem, on the surface, an odd choice to give five stars to as it's not really a book most people would just pick up and read. It's about urban planning for one, and even more specifi...

  • Carol

    In case you couldn't tell from the clever title, the city is Phoenix, and the book is depressing. The city should not exist, really, unless it reduced itself to about 40,000 residents who live in xeri...

  • Paul Frandano

    Many of us read in the hope that, from time to time, we might come across a book that will change our lives; avid readers occasionally have this experience and are alert to its recurrence. Ross's Bird...

  • Laura Callanan

    This terrific book discusses the intersecting questions of sustainability at play in what he argues is the least sustainable city Phoenix, AZ. The author looks at urban sprawl, local agriculture, immi...

  • ambyr

    I wanted a book about Phoenix and may be feeling unduly harsh that this is a much broader book about the American Southwest, immigration, and environmentalism that rarely focuses for long on the actua...

  • Douglas Edward

    It first has to be asked, if the author in his two years in the valley practiced what he preached. Did he eat all vegetarian food in the valley and throughout his life outside of the valley (meat is s...

  • Emily

    Invited by Future Arts Research, an Arizona State University institute, to “come and do research of [his] choosing in Phoenix”(19), Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New Yo...

  • Full Stop

    http://www.full-stop.net/2012/10/05/r...Review by Keith SpencerIt’s a bad time to be an Arizonan. Even my mother, who expatriated from New York 30 years ago, admitted to me recently that our Arizona...

  • Beth Allen

    They should hand a copy of this to anyone who moves to greater Phoenix from out of town. Fair warning, if your politics are right of center you'll take issue with it. Is it accurate? Well, it's a star...

  • Tyler Hurst

    Not the damning manifesto I expected, but rather a fact-based look at the fragility of Phoenix and cities like it. A must-read for anyone interested in what too many people think is the city of the fu...