Las Vegas Faces a Challenging and Uncertain Environmental Future

Excessive heat will impact the desert city in the coming years, and major steps need to be taken now to change its course.

September 19, 2019, 2:00 PM PDT

By Camille Fink


Las Vegas and Environs

Nevada / Shutterstock

"Las Vegas is the fastest-warming city in the United States, its temperatures having risen 5.76F since 1970. A June study of coroner data by the Las Vegas-based Desert Research Institute found a correlation between heatwaves and heat-related deaths in southern Nevada, both of which, they say, are on the rise," writes Dan Hernandez.

The effects of climate change are being exacerbated in Las Vegas by rapid growth, increased carbon emissions from vehicles, and large expanses of concrete and asphalt that have created a heat island. And the city’s most vulnerable residents—low-income residents, the homeless, the elderly, children—will face more dire consequences if temperatures continue to rise.

Fernandez notes that the city has instituted a renewable energy program that powers streetlights and government buildings and green energy legislation is making its way along at the state level. Casinos also say that they want to work to establish sustainable infrastructure.

"MGM Resorts has over 20 acres of solar panels atop the Mandalay Bay convention center, and much of the electricity flowing through properties like the Bellagio, Luxor and New York, New York comes from a solar array in the Mojave Desert," says Hernandez.

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