Is Las Vegas heading for ecological disaster?

It had to come sooner or later. With all the money pouring into Las Vegas in the biggest building boom the strip has ever seen, some commentators are wondering whether the company is growing too fast, and whether its growth will be sustainable.

Fast Company have speculated that the combination of low-skilled jobs combined with the potential for what it calls for an “ecological disaster” (no water in the desert, apparently!), all add up to “an environmental pileup in the making”

Not exactly pulling his punches, Fast Company’s executive editor Keith Hammonds said “We worry about the environmental train wreck that could be approaching, with the sheer toll of population growth and building. But the more important question for us is about talent. If you have rapid population growth and business growth without a corresponding expansion of talent and the capacity to attract more talent, you’re headed for a future with low income and low quality of life.”

Naturally, Las Vegas officials have hit back. Water shouldn’t be a problem, apparently, as the Southern Nevada Water Authority has plans to pump over 31 billion gallons of extra water from Lincoln County and White Pine County.

Also defending their quarter are the casinos, with gaming executives noting that the mega-resorts, despite their huge size and apparent insatiable appetite for water (hundreds of thousands of guests, pools, the Bellagio’s fountains, etc.), only consume 6.7% of Southern Nevada’s water

As for talent, Cara Roberts, a spokewoman for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, hit back by saying that “We’re a city founded by problem-solvers who have, in a very creative, enterprising and innovative way, built an international city in very short amount of time. Las Vegas attracts people whose hard work and ingenuity will continue to drive our economy.”

Las Vegas has always had its critics and doom merchants, and yet look at it now. Seeing Vegas today, you can’t quite believe it’s real, and Vegas tomorrow will be even more unbelievable. Yet it’s all true, and it’s consistently defied its critics.

Personally, if I was in the casino or hotel trade, I’d be worried about there being too much construction underway, with too many hotel rooms and condos on offer, not to mention the millions of square feet of extra convention space and retail space being built. There are only so many visitors that can physically squeeze onto the strip, and you have to be a bit concerned about oversupply.

But then, I’m not a casino or hotel owner, and they have billions and I don’t, so what do I know?!

[Source: Las Vegas Review Journal]

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