"In Mega-Hot Arizona, Climate Is Not on the Ballot. But It Might as Well Be"

"Extreme heat deaths skyrocketed 1,000% in the last decade and most see climate as a ‘serious’ threat. Do the politicians?"

"When it comes to climate and the 2024 elections, Arizona just might represent the perfect storm of dramatic consequences: It’s one of the states most severely impacted by climate change, a strong majority of voters share climate concerns, climate issues dominate political debate in the state, it’s a battleground state that could help decide the presidential race, and its Legislature is so narrowly divided that it could easily flip from Republican to Democratic control.

Arizona has suffered through extreme heat and intense drought, wildfires are becoming more catastrophic, and record-breaking storms are causing intense flooding. The crisis is dominating headlines and exposing political divisions among Republicans, who are clinging to one-seat majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Last week, it was reported that the state’s largest metropolitan area saw a more than 1,000% increase in heat-related deaths over the last 10 years — spiking from 61 in 2014 to 645 in 2023. The crisis has stretched the resources of Phoenix, America’s hottest city, which is relying on nearly $2 million in pandemic-related federal funds to build cooling centers.

Now the cavalcade of catastrophic climate consequences is stirring concerns among voters. About 56% of Arizonans said that climate change is an “extremely serious” or “very serious” problem and 88% supported requiring oil and gas companies to pay for cleanup and land restoration costs after a well’s life has ended, per the 14th annual Conservation in the West poll conducted by Colorado College. “This year, we’ve seen the widest margin in favor of conservation,” pollster Dave Metz told Axios."

Marcus Baram reports for Capital & Main June 4, 2024.

Source: Capital & Main, 06/10/2024