"Las Vegas is located in the Mojave, one of the great deserts of North America, and the expanding city and the desert ecosystem reveal interconnected contradictions. There is the spectacle of the Strip and the dreariness of the everyday city that surrounds it; there are landscapes of success and landscapes of failure; there is the erasure of the past in search of an ever-new future. These contradictions prompt profound concern for the meaning of place. Environmentalists have been hoping that economic downturn would spur reflection and readjustment. Alas, the major players of the American Southwest seem unwilling to forsake the dictum of growth-for-growth's-sake. Large real estate companies, having already secured or entitled hundreds or thousands of acres, remain politically powerful; too often sustainable development means "sustaining development." Even as financial markets were collapsing in late 2008, developers were seeking approval of new developments as neighboring ones slid into foreclosure and bankruptcy."