July 3, 2010

What happens in Vegas doesn’t sustainably stay there. ~ Katie Feldhaus

Sin Unsustainable City: The effects of Vegas that spread to the environment.

There is one place in the world where you can let loose and no rules apply, like a fly to the light, people flock to the sin-filled town of Las Vegas. I recently went there for a weekend getaway and had the time of my life, but I realized how unsustainable the tourist-filled, addiction-driven city really is.

But as I walked the strip, beer in hand, Sin City was mesmerizing and irresistible, looking back at it there is no way I would have by passed the trip, sustainable or not and that is what keeps the city alive. But I feel like I have to enlighten Vegas vacationers about the negative impacts of the innovative, entertaining city.

First of all, location, location, location, Vegas is located in the middle of the desert. Building a city with glorious waterfalls as attractions in a place that already is lacking in moisture is not the brightest idea, but somehow Vegas ended up being a pretty ‘bright’ place.

According to Earth Acutally, Vegas is the largest per-capita consumer of water in the nation that comes in at 343 gallons per day. The city gets 88 percent of its water from Lake Mead and the water levels of the lake have dropped 80 ft. But I have to acknowledge that the city has replaced 51 million square feet of grass by Xeriscape, the Water Smart Landscape Program, reusing about a third of the residential drinking water for landscaping (something for Boulder to think about).

Las Vegas, with the strip in mind, lifestyle goes on as if the earth was not suffering environmentally.

The scorching heat is most of the time unbearable for locals and tourists alike. Walking around you are sweating from head to toe, until you step inside and are frozen by the cranked up air conditioning. But that is another reason why the desert is not a place for a city full of people hyped up on booze and gambling because heat equals frustrated guests and complaining guest equals blasting AC. The amount of energy that is consumed by Vegas is outrageous. Climate Denial concludes that the new CityCentre housing and casino project on the strip will require 400,000 megawatts at a cost of $40,000,000 a year — producing 160,000,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum, which is more than the output of Denmark (53,944,000), Sweden (50,875,000) and Norway (40,220,000) — combined according to Earth Actually.

Driving into Las Vegas you can see this glow from miles and miles away. Sin City specializes in enormous, all-night light displays and flashy extravaganzas. The history of the city, especially the strip, seems to get erased year after year as establishments on average get torn down and rebuilt every 5 years.

We stayed at the MGM Grand and I can not say enough good things about the hotel, but one thing that was off for me was the Lions in the glass cage. The MGM is not the only place that uses animals as an exotic attraction; the Mandalay Bay has an aquarium full of sharks and the Mirage’s Dolphin habitat. No matter what Associations permit putting animals in captivity, it is abnormal for animals to be out of their instinctive habitats and natural surroundings.

Now, I am not hatin’ on Vegas, Sin City was probably the most fun and exciting place that I have ever been to and I had a great time. I just want to bring awareness to the unsustainable aspects of the city. We all need to escape reality once in a while and go somewhere out of bounds and off society’s strategic map and Vegas is just that place. I just want to remind you all that Vegas may cost you a ton of doe, but it also is costing the environment a lot as well.

Katie Feldhaus is a News & Editorial Journalism student at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is an editorial intern at elephantjournal.com. She is currently living in Boulder and is a Colorado native, who loves being active and doing anything outside.

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