Environmental Problems in Las Vegas: An Expert's Perspective

When it comes to environmental issues in Nevada, climate change is often overlooked. But the truth is, global warming is having a significant impact on the state's environment. As the suburbs expand, more cars, congestion, and fossil fuels are being burned to power and heat everything. This leads to an increase in carbon emissions and air pollution, higher temperatures in urban areas, and a decrease in water supplies.

The consequences of this are felt by everyone in the region. Heat, pollution, congestion, and water shortages are all becoming more severe. Communities of color are particularly affected by air pollution due to their proximity to highways. These neighborhoods also have less shade and fewer trees, a legacy of redlining.

Low-income families are struggling with higher air conditioning and water bills. The Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act (SNEDCA) will only make life worse for the millions of people living in the Las Vegas Valley. Las Vegas and Reno-Sparks-Tahoe have seen unprecedented growth over the past decade, but this growth has come at a cost. As an expert who grew up in Las Vegas, I have seen first-hand how the city has transformed into a model of sustainability. Artesian wells in the area have been overloading the groundwater supplies found beneath Las Vegas for some time now. This has led to environmental health and safety issues that are affecting the quality of life in Nevada's urban areas.

Las Vegas has some of the most intense urban heat islands in the country, with temperatures 20-25 degrees higher than the surrounding desert. The federal government owns 87% of Clark County's land, so there is a limited area around the Las Vegas Valley. I graduated from the University of Nevada at Reno and hope that my university will take note of the progress made in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Valley is located in the east of the Mojave Desert, an area with a great deal of biological diversity. In order to protect this diversity, Nevadans will need to carefully analyze ecological tensions in key areas of the region and make difficult decisions about environmental policies. An unlikely alliance of environmentalists, ranchers, and rural citizens was recently formed to consider possible large-scale impacts on surface water resources in southern and eastern Nevada that could result from surface flow diversions or pumping and exporting groundwater through oil pipelines to Las Vegas Valley. A recent report found that Las Vegas had more days with unhealthy levels of short-term particle pollution.

Harriet Fabros
Harriet Fabros

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