Climate Change in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

This page gives you a look at everything having to do with Las Vegas’s climate change situation and local energy transition. This is for everyone in the Las Vegas Valley.

1.0 How climate change impacts Las Vegas

2.0 Climate change projections for Las Vegas

3.0 City of Las Vegas & Clark County leadership

4.0 Progress on Las Vegas’s Great Energy Transition

5.0 Politicians on the climate in Las Vegas

6.0 Climate Organizations in Las Vegas

7.0 Las Vegas students and educators working on climate

1.0 HOW CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS LAS VEGAS

The climate impact on Las Vegas is a much-reduced water supply.

Nearby Lake Mead (America’s largest water reserve) has been losing its water source to the drying climate since the 1990s. The lighter colored rock walls show where the huge supply of water used to be. Image: Mark Henle Arizona Republic

Las Vegas’s water supply is shrinking rapidly. The Las Vegas Valley gets 90% of its water from the snowmelt of the upstream Rocky Mountains, where changing weather patterns (from the warming atmosphere) are making snow more scarce. This means much less snowmelt to feed the rivers that fill Lake Mead.

Image by Ethan Miller, Meme by LocalClimate.org

With decades of tenacious drought and negligible upstream snow, Lake Mead is at its lowest level in all its ninety years. The US declared the nation’s first-ever water shortage emergency in 2022. The situation will have consequences for the 26 million people and thousands of acres of farmland downstream from Lake Mead / Hoover Dam.

Pat Mulroy was a master of conflict resolution from 1989 to 2014 when she simultaneously headed the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Las Vegas Water District. Mulroy secured a steady water supply for two million Las Vegas residents by negotiating “the third drinking straw” that sips the bottom waters of Lake Mead. In 2022, Mulroy is advising leadership on climate adaptation policy from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).

law.unlv.edu/faculty/pat-mulroy

Temps in Las Vegas are the fastest-rising in the nation. The impacts are misery for some, and ridiculous energy bills for others.

This is the week-long heat dome event that Las Vegas experienced in July 2020.

Multiple weeklong heatwaves are becoming the new normal in Las Vegas. It’s hot out at night, and soon after the sun rises, the hairdryer-like heat begins. Outdoor labor starts well before sunrise, and ends before late morning.

Kids get a quick cool-down during a Las Vegas heatwave. Image: Jae C. Hong/AP

Millions of Las Vegans seem to live normal lives during tenacious heatwaves – as long as indoor air is refrigerated 24/7. But the lives of Las Vegas’s 14,000+ unsheltered residents are not at all normal when it’s over 110˚ outside.

Las Vegas’s hot climate trend is aggravating the city’s “heat island effect” (the city’s concrete and asphalt surfaces absorb and hold onto the sun’s heat). Summers in Las Vegas have become toastier this century, with high temps regularly pushing past 110.˚ 117˚ is the current heat record for Las Vegas, set at Harry Reid Airport on July 15, 2018.

Sources: Mercurynews.com/2021/06/17/the-shocking-numbers-behind-the-lake-mead-drought-crisis/ by CNN.com wire service,

2.0 CLIMATE CHANGE PROJECTIONS FOR LAS VEGAS

It’s not just the scientists. Long-time locals will tell you Las Vegas’s heat season is lasting much longer.

Carbon in the atmosphere continues to accumulate, so the city’s heat season will continue to lengthen. The science team at Climate Central quantified the changing climates of 242 US cities. They found that Las Vegas is currently (in 2022) the fastest warming city in the United States.

Las Vegas’s climate is moving. To get an idea of what the climate will be like in Atlanta several decades from now, climate researchers averaged the results of 27 computer climate models. Las Vegas’s changed climate in the 2060s will feel like the hotter and drier climate of low-lying Bullhead City, Arizona in the 2020s. Bullhead City ranks as the hottest town in America on many summer days. Bullhead City is currently 17Β°F hotter and 22% drier than Las Vegas’s 2020 climate.

datatool: fitzlab.shinyapps.io/cityapp/ graphic: LocalClimate.org

3.0 CITY OF LAS VEGAS LEADERSHIP ON CLIMATE

Las Vegas officials are making a good start on what city government can do about the climate

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is winning awards for her work on cutting her city’s carbon emissions.

Las Vegas is the county seat for Clark County, which has its own Climate Action Plan. The plan focuses on the county government’s internal operations, including county vehicles and county buildings.

4.0 CURRENT PROGRESS ON LAS VEGAS’S GREAT ENERGY TRANSITION

This section

Progress toward 100% electric vehicle use in Las Vegas

Electric vehicle sales

Electric Vehicle sales

electric vehicle sales

Now, much of the iconic Las Vegas Strip is powered by solar energy.

Caesar’s Palace is powered by the Sun, and the ancient Roman god Sol Indiges would be mightily impressed!

MGM Resorts electrifies Caesar’s and it’s dozen other Las Vegas mega-properties (Bellagio, Mirage, Aria, Vdara, Luxor… ) with it’s solar electric facility in the desert outside Las Vegas. Activated in June 2021, the 100-megawatt “MGM Resorts Mega Solar Array” powers 90% of the daytime electricity of its 36,000 guest rooms, and 800+ acres of casinos, shopping, restaurants, and venues.

forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2021/06/29/mgm-resorts-doubles-down-on-las-vegas-solar-power/?sh=fb4b8e470ae4

So far, as of 2022, this is the largest solar rooftop in Las Vegas and in Nevada

Here’s a portion of the expansive solar array atop Mandalay Bay Convention Center. See Google Earth for the whole amazing thing.

Las Vegas’ Largest Rooftop Solar Power Station (in 2022) sits atop the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center, on the Las Vegas strip. In 2021, it was the 4th-largest solar rooftop in the United States. Mandalay’s 6.4-megawatt rooftop power station ties into MGMΒ Resorts’ intra-property electricity grid, which operates independently of the costly public power grid.

list.solar/plants/largest-plants/rooftop-pv/

5.0 POLITICIANS ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN LAS VEGAS

On climate change policies, Las Vegas‘ elected officials calculate what’s a safe bet

Nevada State Senator Chris Brookes (NV 3) represented the inner-northwest neighborhoods of Las Vegas until 2021, when he abruptly quit working as a politician and took a lucrative job with a large energy company. He commented, “There’s a lot of work we can do (about climate change), before we take on the building industry, the home builders, and the gas companies. It’s a very political thing to tell people they can’t have natural gas in buildings.”

Chris Brookes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlAf8nVV8po

6.0 CLIMATE ORGS IN LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas’s climate community will help you get active in the niche you’re good at

Climate Reality Project Las Vegas promote policies and actions that mitigate climate damage. The group hosted a Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Las Vegas on June 11-13, 2022. Founder / former Vice President Al Gore and his team showed 400+ participants from the US southwest region how to engage their communities in cutting carbon emissions. (@ClimateVegas)

climaterealitylasvegas.com/

Citizens Climate Lobby Las Vegas communicates with Vegas-based elected officials about one essential federal climate policy: Placing an escalating fee on carbon fuels at the industrial level, and returning the proceeds to every citizen. We meet with Las Vegas’s D.C. and Carson City politicos, we editorialize in local media, and educate the community at public events. @ccl_lasvegas

twitter: @ccl_lasvegas

Sunrise Vegas had great turnout and visibility during their pre-pandemic climate strikes. This is from back in 2019.

Sunrise Movement’s Las Vegas Hub promotes strong climate change policy at all levels of government. Most recently, Dexter Lim, the group’s local co-founder, wrote an op-ed in the Nevada Independent (February 2022) condemning Nevada’s federal leaders who failed to support the Green New Deal. (@SunriseMvmtLV)

twitter.com/SunriseMvmtLV/status/1511905874909958144?cxt=HHwWgMCs_b-Yr_spAAAA

Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association holds events where local folks can take electric vehicles (EVs) out for a test drive. Recent test drives were at Lorenzi Park and the Springs Reserve in April and June 2022. Local residents learn about charging up an EV, and about incentives for purchasing an EV.

lasvegaseva.org

Extinction Rebellion Las Vegas is about putting on public spectacles that make people understand the urgency of climate change and biodiversity loss. Extinction Rebellion gets regular media attention in the UK and EU. Here in the US, Rebellion groups like ours in Las Vegas are looking for clever new folks to stage visually shocking, climate-related performance art. Give us a holler! (@LvRebellion)

instagram.com/xrvegas/?hl=en

7.0 LAS VEGAS STUDENTS AND EDUCATORS WORKING ON CLIMATE

UNLV physics professor George Rhee is helping Nevada get ahead of climate change with his online calculator he created that determines the state’s total fossil fuel demand by 2050

unlv.edu/news/release/quick-take-numbers-tell-story-climate-change photo by R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Creative Services

LocalClimate.org is asking local educators to offer their students (for credit) the opportunity to research, create, update, and popularize this Las Vegas Climate Page. Students will become local climate experts, reaching out and educating Las Vegas’s many communities.

We’d like to have Las Vegas’s local climate team assembled and active by October 1, 2022. Reach out to steven@localclimate.org