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Will the Valley be habitable in 2050? An environmental scientist says yes, but with these changes

Some parts of our state are already experiencing trouble getting water, temperatures are getting hotter-- so can we handle a million more people?

PHOENIX — Recent studies estimate the Valley will add more than a million people over the next few decades, but can we support them?

Lake Mead is shrinking, as is Arizona's allotment from the Colorado River. The latest projections indicate we could see more than 130 days over 100 degrees by 2040 and more than half the year in the triple digits by the end of this century.

“There is no doubt Arizona will be habitable," Katherine Jacobs, professor of Environmental Sciences at Arizona University, said. "I think it’s whether you want to live that way.”

Jacobs said Arizona is not heading toward some uninhabitable wasteland. However, with increasing temperature and a dwindling water supply, life will be unpleasant, more expensive, and less convenient.

“There is no doubt the way water is being used today is not the way it will be in 2050,” Jacobs said.

The changes likely begin with water. Jacobs believes more regulations are needed on who can use water and when. That could mean restricting the amount of water the agriculture industry could use or restrictions on water use for fun.

“We can very much change the trajectory of what our future looks like that,” Jacobs said.

In the end, Jacobs said the choices we make will determine our future in The Valley. Jacobs says the state needs to move more toward renewable energy to cut down on the carbon warming of our planet.

Jacobs said small adjustments to our day-to-day lives can make a difference.

"There are many choices we all make, from everything we eat or drink during the day to where we set our thermostat that affects the future of the planet."

RELATED: What will the Valley look like in 2040? The answer may surprise you


In our “Boomtown” series, 12News takes a look at the Valley’s explosive growth over the past few decades, the consequences that came with it and a look at what it all means for our future as more than 1.5 million people are expected to move to the Valley by 2040.

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