Nearly everyone I have ever met has told me that they would love to go to Vegas.
It strikes me the best of Vegas may be what we get to see as we are flying in, near midnight, at the end of a very long flight from England that has been re- routed, ( Edmunton to Toronto ) and , thankfully, upgraded.
As we make our landing descent the sprawl of Las Vegas emerges from a pitch black desert like a spreading jewel of sparkling lights. The plane descends and I pick out an Eifel Tower, a Pyramid, a London Wheel. This city has copied culture from the rest of the world and turned it into something I will not be rude about because I am a guest here.
The city has grown from tens of thousands inhabitants in the eighties to millions now and it has become a Mecca for the joy seekers who arrive in their millions to gamble, frolic, get married, watch a show, enjoy a stag do play golf or any of the other jollities that have been invented to extract some dollars from the wallet.
It is a jewel of light and hedonism in a desert that previously supported the Mohave Native and other small tribes who knew how to live in tune with a hostile, desert environment without golf clubs, casinos, the gas guzzling automobile, neon and 24/7 revelry.
To ensure that this modern urban spread can exist the Colorado river has been tamed. We visit the Hoover Dam today and cannot help but be struck by modern man’s ability to perform great feats of engineering. The tamed river is harnessed to provide the electricity needed for such human endeavour as the lights in the sky we have just witnessed and the agriculture needed to feed the populace that comes here to enjoy the delights of the Strip and the pleasures that a man made lake can provide.
But at what cost in a world of climate change? Our host at the lovely bnb where we stay informs us that the lake has dropped by 50 metres over the past twenty years or so of drought and that soon the level won’t be high enough to drive the turbines to provide the electricity to power the lights and the greedy air conditioning needed by modern people to live in the desert in comfort.
Apparently it’s a mix of too little snow in the Rockies and alleged wasteful use of water by the farmers in Arizona and California.
I can see the white marked rock on the flooded Canyon walls that show where the levels were and can only wonder at the trillions of gallons it would take to refill this lake to the levels of the eighties.
A kind of metaphor for all that is Western Capitalism really.
If we are not careful we will eat ourselves, destroy an ancient planet and turn all the lights out.
Not many will make the trip to Vegas then.
And before I get too much on my high horse – I belong to a golf club, I flew here in a plane and was glad of the air conditioning last night and drive a huge gas guzzling 4 by 4 to see these sights.
I wonder if there is an answer to this puzzle and welcome suggestions.