The lure of lower taxes

They might as well be building their new houses on the slopes of an active volcano, or on a frozen lake that melts every summer, or in the middle of a freeway.

Away from the lights and fountains of the Las Vegas Strip, bulldozers are working overtime as the suburbs of Sin City are bursting out of their seams.

Las Vegas is growing at a staggering rate. Clark county, where the city is located, is home to roughly 2.3 million people, but forecasts predict the population could go beyond 4 million by 2055.

And Las Vegas is where? In. the. desert. And the climate is doing what? Getting. hotter.

What is wrong with people?

Attracted by the lure of cheaper costs of living, lower taxes, and newly built homes, more than half a million people are expected to flock to southern Nevada in just the next 15 years. To accommodate them, the region’s arid landscape is being converted into strip malls and shopping centers as winding cul de sacs creep closer to the rocky hillsides.

Maybe those half million people will surprise whoever this is who is “expecting” them to flock to bone-dry southern Nevada as the climate crisis speeds up every day. Also maybe the nitwits in charge of converting arid anything into new suburbs should stop right now.

Last year temperatures hit 116F (46.6C) in June, setting a new record for such dangerously hot weather so early in the year. Concrete cooked during the day, spitting out heat long after the sun set. Thousands of unhoused residents, outdoor workers and communities that couldn’t afford the rising costs of air conditioning bore the brunt. By July, 12 people lost their lives to the heat. In 2020, the Clark county coroner counted 124 heat-related deaths.

Yes but that’s just poor people, and they don’t matter.

It’s only going to get worse. The city is warming faster than anywhere else in the US. And the future will get hotter, drier and more turbulent, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a consortium of climate scientists from around the world, warned in its most recent report.

The county is also grappling with a quickly waning water supply and intense air pollution that’s affecting the most vulnerable. The issues are exacerbated by heat, which will be driven higher by both the climate crisis and the building boom. Temperatures are going to keep climbing – and people are going to keep coming.

But don’t worry – they’re all about the sustainability!

“We are one of the best-kept secrets in the world when it comes to sustainability,” said Jace Radke, a senior public information officer with the city of Las Vegas, listing off achievements. Already, the city has added 450 miles of bike lanes, switched 52,000 streetlights to LED lighting, and public buildings, parks, and traffic lights are powered by renewable energy, Radke said.

Awesome. So when it’s 116 degrees people can go for a nice refreshing bike ride to cool off. The bike lanes change everything.

In 2019, Clark county generated more greenhouse gas emissions than the city of Los Angeles – which is home to roughly 1.7 million more people – according to a new report issued by the county in February. Nearly half of the county’s emissions are from energy used to power buildings and industry. The next biggest share at 37% was attributed to transportation. Both of these sectors are slated to increase as more homes and businesses are built and rising numbers of residents hit the roads. The construction equipment itself is expected to add to emissions as the county continues to grow.

Shhhhh – just think about the bike lanes. Bike lanes bike lanes bike lanes.

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