December 7, 2011
Next year Arizona will celebrate 100 years of statehood. Born in 1909, Senator Barry Goldwater was just three years old when Arizona became the 48th state in the Union on February 14, 1912. In 1962 — two years before he would get the Republican nomination for president (and ultimately lose to Lyndon B. Johnson in a landslide), Goldwater wrote an article for the February 14, 1962, edition of the Tucson Daily Citizen titled “Arizona’s Next Fifty Years.”
Imagining the world of 2012, Goldwater’s article looked at everything from where Arizona might get the water to support its rapidly growing population (the ocean seemed the most logical solution), to Arizona’s relationship with Mexico (he envisioned an open border). The article reads as a love letter to the state he grew up in and adored, while acknowledging that there may be some hurdles ahead.
I asked Jon Christensen his opinion of Senator Goldwater’s 1962 article. Jon is the executive director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University and he points out that, “Goldwater wrote in an era when the ‘new frontier’ was still something America believed in and yearned toward, before Kennedy was gunned down the next year in Dallas. Growth was the rocket fuel of that dream — population growth, economic growth, wall to wall houses filling the desert with nuclear families.”
Senator Goldwater opens the article by writing about his own family:
Fifty years from now, if things go well, I will be concerned only with heavenly surroundings, so any shortcoming or overstatements of this forecast will be of no concern for me. But my children, then ranging from 68 to 75 years of age, and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren of all ages, will be living in this heaven on earth — Arizona. So I looked into my crystal ball, determined to project the image of my native state 50 years hence with the accuracy of experience and the hope of love, trusting in the ability of man to restrain his bad side so that the good things I predict will be allowed to come true, and conversely to stimulate his good side so that man will make them come true.
Having come to that decision, I loosened my legs from the restraining ceiling of my desk and departed for another long walk across the floor of the desert which has been a part of my life.
Goldwater expresses concern about what the picturesque landscape of Arizona might look like after a growing population spreads into the more rugged and untouched areas of the state:
A desert rain, just passed, accentuated the pungency of the greasewood and I stopped my walk with the dreadful first decision that the man of 2012 would not be able to walk from his doorstep into this pastel paradise with its saguaro, the mesquite, the leap of a jackrabbit, the cholla or the smell of freshly wet greasewood, because people will have transgressed on the desert for homesite to accomodate a population of slightly over 10 million people. The forests will be protected, as well as our parks and monuments. But even they will have as neighbors the people who today enjoy hardships to visit them.
Goldwater predicted that the city of Phoenix would be either the fourth or sixth largest city in the United States. The 2010 census places Phoenix as the sixth largest city in the country (with just under 1.5 million people) behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. Though Arizona experienced steady population growth since 1962, that growth has slowed considerably in the last five years, which is most likely attributed to the recession and a bad job market.
But it will be the deserts that will support the majority of the new homes. Phoenix will have a population of about three million and Tucson will grow to about one and one-half million. Phoenix and Tucson will remain the two largest cities in the state, with Phoenix being either the fourth or six largest city in the United States.
However, spectacular increases in population will occur in Yuma, Flagstaff, Casa Grande, Sierra Vista and some yet unborn cities in the Harqua Hala Valley, near Cave Creek and east of Tucson. The growth of Glendale, Peoria and Avondale will parallel that of Phoenix proper, so that 50 years from now all of these cities will be contiguous with each other and with Phoenix, and will form a city complex not unlike the present city of Los Angeles.
When the book Inside U.S.A. by John Gunther was published in 1947, Arizona was still the youngest state in the Union. The book notes that “Only 329 square miles of its 113,909 are water, which means that water is by far its greatest problem.” Gunther writes that irrigation has made Phoenix lush: “Pass over in an airplane; the burgeoning green of the irrigated valley overlays the the desert as if painted there with shiny lacquer. This development derives from [the] Roosevelt Dam, which was one of the earliest federal reclamation projects.”
Goldwater explains in his article that he hopes water will be piped in from the ocean to alleviate the growing need for water in Arizona:
Long before this period of 50 years passes by, the large coastal cities will be getting their drinking [water] leasing the inland streams for inland consumption. But to augment our major sources of water we will also, long before 2012, be using water piped from the ocean for domestic purposes.
As farmland gives way to homesite in the central valley, farming will be done in an extensive way in the already developed areas around Yuma and in, as yet, undeveloped areas in the Centennial and Harqua Hala Valley lands with a much greater diversification of crops that we now have. Cotton, our main crop today, will dwindle in importance by the time 50 more years pass because more new man-made fibers will replace to a marked degree the need for cotton that we know today.
Goldwater understood that America’s move west would be even more pronounced in the latter half of the 20th century, and saw technology as a major factor in that growth. Christensen finds fault with Goldwater’s prediction about industry in Arizona: “What’s curious about Goldwater’s vision is that he thought the Arizona economy would be based on manufacturing. Instead Arizona made an economy fueled by service jobs, taken up by people who moved from the Rust Belt to the Sun Belt, to serve retirees following the same route, and by construction, to build those pastel Sun Cities where they would live.”
As the population center of the United States continues to move rapidly to the west, so will industry as to be near this new concentration of consumers. Arizona’s principal economic growth will be in the industrial field, with emphasis being on items of a technological nature. It will not be many years before industry will become an important part of the economies of most Arizona cities, whereas today it is more or less confined to a few.
Goldwater goes on to talk about Arizona government and interestingly believes that Indian reservations will radically transform, with the population of Native Americans growing rather than decreasing.
This industrial growth will, of course, depend upon the maintenance of a good governmental climate; but I expect the people of this state in the next 50 years will be able to maintain the same kind of good government in the state, county and local levels that the people of the first 50 years have to an almost complete degree.
Indian reservations as we know them today will no longer exist because the government will have deeded the lands to the Indians who now live on them. Indians will be with us in increasing instead of decreasing number, and as they become more and more educated, they will play a more and more important part in the life of Arizona.
Christensen is “intrigued by Goldwater’s view that Indian reservations would cease to exist, and Indians themselves would become just like other Arizonans; happy individual property owners. That was an old-fashioned view rather than a futurist vision by 1962.” Indeed, as an article in the Arizona Capitol Times noted earlier this month: “Anglos moving into the Arizona Territory during the late 1800s believed that the Native Americans already there should be acclimated into Anglo culture. During that time, Indian boarding schools were built and native children were removed from their homes and placed into these schools.”
Goldwater’s predictions of a wide open U.S.-Mexico border by 2012 may be the most surprising to contemporary readers, given the tenor of the current Republican presidential nomination debates, where candidates to various degrees have proposed tougher border controls to limit illegal immigration and narcotrafficking.
Our ties with Mexico will be much more firmly established in 2012 because sometime within the next 50 years the Mexican border will become as the Canadian border, a free one, with the formalities and red tape of ingress and egress cut to a minimum so that the residents of both countries can travel back and forth across the line as if it were not there.
Basking in the “frontier spirit” that Arizona has historically embraced, Goldwater calls on the rugged individualism that he sees as imperative to America’s progress:
Fifty years from now, even though Arizona’s population density will reach about 100 per square mile, there will still be lots of open space in which man can enjoy himself. Our watershed will improve, our forests will continue to grow, and even the Grand Canyon will be about three inches deeper.
Arizona will continue to be the haven for people who seek an outlet for initiative and a reward for work. The frontier challenges will exist then as they do today, for man’s progress never stops unless man stops it. Fortunately for our state, our men have always and will always want to go forward, not backward.
Goldwater finishes his article by writing about the generations to come that he’s sure will enjoy their lives in Arizona while he’s looking down from the heavens:
My children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be as happy living here as I have been during the first 50 years of statehood, because the people will remain warm and kind and thoughtful. And even though much of what we now know as desert will have disappeared, there will remain a sufficient amount of natural beauty to satisfy all of the desires of the 10 million people who will live here.
In fact, even though I hope to be on Cloud Nine or Ten or whatever they allot me, I am sure that 50 years from now I will look down on this delightful spot on earth and be envious of the people who call Arizona their home in the year 2012.
December 5, 2011
On November 13, 1946 pilot Curtis Talbot, working for the General Electric Research Laboratory, climbed to an altitude of 14,000 feet about 30 miles east of Schenectady, New York. Talbot, along with scientist Dr. Vincent J. Schaefer, released three pounds of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) into the clouds. As they turned south, Dr. Schaefer noted, “I looked toward the rear and was thrilled to see long streamers of snow falling from the base of the cloud through which we had just passed. I shouted to Curt to swing around, and as we did so we passed through a mass of glistening snow crystals! Needless to say, we were quite excited.” They had created the world’s first human-made snowstorm.
After the experiments of G.E.’s Research Laboratory, there was a feeling that humanity might finally be able to control one of the greatest variables of life on earth. And, as Cold War tensions heightened, weather control was seen by the United States as a potential weapon that could be even more devastating than nuclear warfare.
In August of 1953 the United States formed the President’s Advisory Committee on Weather Control. Its stated purpose was to determine the effectiveness of weather modification procedures and the extent to which the government should engage in such activities. Methods that were envisioned by both American and Soviet scientists—and openly discussed in the media during the mid-1950s— included using colored pigments on the polar ice caps to melt them and unleash devastating floods, releasing large quantities of dust into the stratosphere creating precipitation on demand, and even building a dam fitted with thousands of nuclear powered pumps across the Bering Straits. This dam, envisioned by a Russian engineer named Arkady Borisovich Markin would redirect the waters of the Pacific Ocean, which would theoretically raise temperatures in cities like New York and London. Markin’s stated purpose was to “relieve the severe cold of the northern hemisphere” but American scientists worried about such weather control as a means to cause flooding.
The December 11, 1950 Charleston Daily Mail (Charleston, WV) ran a short article quoting Dr. Irving Langmuir, who had worked with Dr. Vincent J. Schaefer during those early experiments conducted for the G.E. Research Laboratory:
“Rainmaking” or weather control can be as powerful a war weapon as the atom bomb, a Nobel prize winning physicist said today.
Dr. Irving Langmuir, pioneer in “rainmaking,” said the government should seize on the phenomenon of weather control as it did on atomic energy when Albert Einstein told the late President Roosevelt in 1939 of the potential power of an atom-splitting weapon.
“In the amount of energy liberated, the effect of 30 milligrams of silver iodide [used to seed clouds] under optimum conditions equals that of one atomic bomb,” Langmuir said.
In 1953 Captain Howard T. Orville was chairman of the President’s Advisory Committee on Weather Control. Captain Orville was quoted widely in American newspapers and popular magazines about how the United States might use this control of the skies to its advantage. The May 28, 1954 cover of Collier’s magazine showed a man quite literally changing the seasons by a system of levers and push buttons. As the article noted, in an age of atomic weapons and supersonic flight, anything seemed possible for the latter half of the 20th century. The cover story was written by Captain Orville.
A weather station in southeast Texas spots a threatening cloud formation moving toward Waco on its radar screen; the shape of the cloud indicates a tornado may be building up. An urgent warning is sent to Weather Control Headquarters. Back comes an order for aircraft to dissipate the cloud. And less than an hour after the incipient tornado was first sighted, the aircraft radios back: Mission accomplished. The storm was broken up; there was no loss of life, no property damage.
This hypothetical destruction of a tornado in its infancy may sound fantastic today, but it could well become a reality within 40 years. In this age of the H-bomb and supersonic flight, it is quite possible that science will find ways not only to dissipate incipient tornadoes and hurricanes, but to influence all our weather to a degree that staggers the imagination.
Indeed, if investigation of weather control receives the public support and funds for research which its importance merits, we may be able eventually to make weather almost to order.
An Associated Press article by science reporter Frank Carey, which ran in the July 6, 1954 edition of Minnesota’s Brainerd Daily Dispatch, sought to explain why weather control would offer a unique strategic advantage to the United States:
It may someday be possible to cause torrents of rain over Russia by seeding clouds moving toward the Soviet Union.
Or it may be possible — if an opposite effect is desired — to cause destructive droughts which dry up food crops by “overseeding” those same clouds.
And fortunately for the United States, Russia could do little to retaliate because most weather moves from west to east.
Dr. Edward Teller, the “father of the H-bomb” testified in 1958 in front of the Senate Military Preparedness Subcommittee that he was “more confident of getting to the moon than changing the weather, but the latter is a possibility. I would not be surprised if [the Soviets] accomplished it in five years or failed to do it in the next 50.” In a January 1, 1958, article in the Pasadena Star-News Captain Orville warned that “if an unfriendly nation solves the problem of weather control and gets into the position to control the large-scale weather patterns before we can, the results could be even more disastrous than nuclear warfare.”
The May 25, 1958, issue of The American Weekly ran an article by Frances Leighton using information from Captain Howard T. Orville. The article, in no uncertain terms, described a race to see who would control the earth’s thermometers. The illustration that ran with the piece pictured an ominous looking satellite which could “focus sunlight to melt the ice in frozen harbors or thaw frosted crops — or scorch enemy cities.”
Behind the scenes, while statesmen argue policies and engineers build space satellites, other men are working day and night. They are quiet men, so little known to the public that the magnitude of their job, when you first hear of it, staggers the imagination. Their object is to control the weather and change the face of the world.
Some of these men are Americans. Others are Russians. The first skirmishes of an undeclared cold war between them already have been fought. Unless a peace is achieved the war’s end will determine whether Russia or the United States rules the earth’s thermometers.
Efforts to control the weather, however, would find skeptics in the U.S. National Research Council, which published a 1964 report:
We conclude that the initiation of large-scale operational weather modification programs would be premature. Many fundamental problems must be answered first….We believe that the patient investigation of atmospheric processes coupled with an exploration of the technical applications may eventually lead to useful weather modification, but we emphasize that the time-scale required for success may be measured in decades.