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Las Vegas: An Unsustainable City
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Las Vegas: An Unsustainable City



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  • 1. Is this rural or urban? In that 1.5 million live in or immediately surrounding Las Vegas it is clearly an urban living space But given it is in the middle of the desert with scores of miles between it and the next settlement it is in a rural setting In about 50 years Las Vegas has grown from a small rural town to what it is today. Urban spread has consumed the surrounding countryside – this is ‘greenfield’ development – a bit ironic given there’s not much that’s green!
  • 2. What is meant by greenfield development? This is development on land that has not previously been used – unspoilt and in its natural state. The opposite of this is brownfield development – development on land that has already been built on and is about to be torn down and re-developed
  • 3. Learning Intentions Develop an understanding that not all rural living spaces are quiet sleepy little towns like Chipping Campden Appreciate just how different Las Vegas is to Chipping Campden Understand the problems generated by the rapid growth of this living space
  • 4. Built in the middle of a Mojave Desert in Clark County, Nevada, USA, it’s within half a day’s journey from the National Parks of Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion
  • 5. 2009
  • 6. 1950
  • 7. What’s it like there? http://vimeo.com/930121
  • 8. First major resort built on the Las Vegas Strip was built in 1941. 17 of the top 20 largest hotels in the world are located in Las Vegas. 36 million people visit Las Vegas each year The population of the city is almost 500,000 which increases to 1.5 million if the surrounding suburbs are included The city is famous for gambling, fine dining and shopping as well as its themed hotels and urban districts – eg New York, Paris and Venice There are 125,000 hotel beds available in Las Vegas at any one time The city has been built in the middle of the Mojave Desert where annual rainfall is less than 10cms – less than 30 days of rain per year If it were not for the dams and reservoirs built in the surrounding desert Las Vegas would not exist It is not the most sustainable city in the world!!
  • 9. So who lives there? The rich and famous – in hotel suites or out of town mansions The not so rich and far from famous – those that maintain and service the city (hotel staff, bankers, lawyers, insurance brokers, tour operators, croupiers, etc) Las Vegas is reputedly the fastest growing city in America
  • 10. Why do they live there? Las Vegas exists solely as a tourist paradise – effectively an adult’s playground and theme park It’s a far cry from Chipping Campden that many see as the English rural idyll
  • 11. What are the challenges? Las Vegas the City shouldn’t exist – it’s in a desert! It does so because a few super rich people had a dream and they spent a fortune realising it It consumes more water per person than any other city in the world – 1,360 litres daily per capita (60 % more than ‘thirsty’ Los Angeles)
  • 12. To cope with the demand for living space Las Vegas must … Build in the desert surrounding the city and find water – and plenty of it
  • 13. Challenges Wells need to be dug deeper – groundwater supplies have dropped 90 metres in recent times $1-billion pipeline will need to be built to tap rivers and groundwater 250 miles away Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir behind the Hoover Dam, is at its lowest water level for 35 years Desert landscapes are not easy habitats - wildlife is losing the battle for water as the city drinks it all! To combat the intense heat (the city is at least 5 degrees C hotter than the very hot desert that surrounds it) thousands of air conditioning units are in place – these need huge quantities of electricity which is met in part at the expense of climate change. Being so isolated car travel is vital – Las Vegas ties with New York City in fifth place for carbon monoxide pollution amongst US cities.
  • 14. Over to you Create a brochure or flyer to encourage those thinking of moving to Las Vegas to think again. Include photographs, text and quotes (made up or real!) Provide a range of reasons and include evidence to support your arguments Finish for homework if necessary