What people are not aware of is how rising sea levels can affect fabulous Las Vegas, and the detriment that is in store for Clark County if something big is not done to try and reverse the dangerous effects of global climate change. Scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gasses produced by human activities (NASA, The Current and Future Consequences of Global Change, 2007).
Because of rising global temperatures, people all over the planet are plagued by rising sea levels, melting Arctic sea ice, melting glaciers and permafrost, rising sea-surface temperatures, warming lake temperatures, heavier rainfall causing flooding, extreme drought increasing, withering crops, changing ecosystems, changes in the frequency and strength of hurricanes, human health being affected by warmer temperatures, and sea water becoming more acidic. So how does this affect Las Vegas and Clark County? First, Clark County is located in the Mojave Desert, and has a subtropical desert climate.
Second, Lake Mead is located in Clark County and is a major source of water supply not only for Nevada, but also for Southern California and Arizona. Third, because of the changing global climate, Lake Mead is drying up. Water levels in Lake Mead have fallen over 100 feet since the year 2000. Water levels are falling in Americas largest reservoir. If it dries up, so could power and water for much of the Southwest (GOOD, Lake Mead is Drying Up, 2009). Currently, the Las Vegas Valley Water District has put watering restrictions in place and has raised the price that citizens of Clark County ay for water to try and fund research for water retention and future supply.
Is this enough, though? In the summer months, temperatures exceed 100 degrees in Clark County, and the only relief from the heat is water. What can be done to help reverse or stop the effects of global climate change on Southern Nevada right now? There are a few simple things that citizens of Clark County can do to help stop the negative effects of global warming on their state. First, an act that would promote water conservation should become mandatory for all citizens of Nevada, not just Clark County.
This water conservation act would require citizens of Nevada to not only limit their water consumption to a certain amount of gallons per year, but would require them to recycle their water using purification via a state issued water hepa-filtration system. This would require funding, so a water tax should be put in place specifically to pay for these water recycling devices. Once all Nevadans had a state issued water filtration device, they would be required to have five gallons of water per person in their homes at all times, and would be subject to inspection by a state official once a year to ensure they have their required amount.
Any citizen not in possession of at least five gallons of fresh water would be subject to a fine for non-compliance by the state of Nevada, which would be used toward water conservation and research. Furthermore, the water conservation act should place limits on the amount of water a household uses per year, especially in the summer months. Just raising the cost of water is not sufficient, as it does not discourage people from using more water because they are not forced to use less.
An acceptable, humane amount of water per person should be decided upon by the water conservation act, and if this amount is exceeded, the cost for additional gallons of water should be triple what is normally paid. This would be effective in discouraging people from using too much water and depleting the supply. It might sound harsh, but imagine that Lake Mead actually did dry up because of global warming. The effects of losing a major water supply to the Southwestern United States would be devastating, and would affect many more people than just those living in Clark County, Nevada.
The question remains, how will Las Vegas ever become conservative with its water when it is the Entertainment Capital of the World? Yes, the citizens of Las Vegas can abide by the rules and regulations of the water district, and could even be held to the proposed water conservation act, but what about all the millions of tourists who come from all over the world and take from our water supply? Las Vegas needs to come together and soon, or it might end up being a dried up ghost town. Please see the topo map below, showing a close up visual of Las Vegas drying up.