If you’re looking for a sign of the End Times, here’s one: Las Vegas, the city where seemingly everything and everything is forgiven, has made weeds — the ornamental kind — illegal.
Much of the West is facing its worst drought in decades, a “megadrought” that has led to early wildfires and severe water shortages – and the seasonal heat has hardly begun. “100 percent chance it gets worse before it gets better, “Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells Nadja Popovich, graphics editor at The Times today. “We’ve had a whole long, dry summer.”
Lake Mead, which lies on the Colorado River (behind the Hoover Dam) and provides 90 percent of the water supply for Las Vegas and southern Nevada, this week reached its lowest capacity since its construction in the 1930s. Gone. And many states that draw their water from the Colorado River, in strict allocation, must absorb strict restrictions on its use in cities and for farming.
“We’re at a survival point in the West right now,” Kyle Roerich, executive director of the nonprofit Great Basin Water Network, said in a phone conversation. “Even the basic terminology that once took for granted—now we’re seeing a change in nomenclature, well, we’re not in a period of drought, we’re in a period of aridity.”
Enter the dryness, exit the grass. Steve Sisolak of Nevada has just signed into law Bill AB356, which requires the removal of all “non-functional turf” from the Las Vegas Valley by the year 2027. The effort will conserve about 10 percent of the area’s annual water allocation from the Colorado River. “It’s really a good time to do something like this,” said Mr. Roerink, whose organization was part of a bipartisan coalition, including the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, which backed the bill.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has yet to form the committee that will define exactly “non-functional turf.” For now, the category loosely describes the area’s street meridians, office parks and housing developments of a few thousand acres of grass carpet, and accounts for about one-third of all grass in the area.
“The best way to describe it is that it is the type of grass that is only used when someone is pushing a lawn mower over it,” Mr Roerink said. “The other shorthand that became common during this legislative session was ‘waste grass.'” (That other useful grass — in parks, schools, golf courses and single-family lawns — is still allowed, at least for now. is.)
“Nonfunctional turf” – the very phrase is an existential knot. Is this redundant, or an oxymoron? Either way, it perfectly encapsulates our inverse relationship with nature: some grass is good, some grass is bad, and all of it (except the one that grows wild in the meadow) is engineered and engineered by us. is curated.
The challenge is not the extra grass as much as the people. Southern Nevada has experienced explosive growth in recent years, and water use has increased by more than 9 percent since 2018. Eliminating “waste” grass was a good first step, Mr Roerink said, but he worried that would easily translate to water savings. In an argument for new growth (with no doubt more useful grass).
“What are the boundaries of the Mojave Desert?” he said. “You know, some areas where Vegas wants to develop are desert tortoise habitats, and there’s not a lot of good desert tortoise habitat left. What’s the future of that?”
The basic question is: what counts as a “functional” or unusable species? Humanity appears dead upon detection. We have a habit of seeking out the harshest environments, from the Amazon to Antarctica, and trying to plant ourselves there. More recently it’s outer space, with Mars being the final destination. Billionaire Entrepreneur on Monday Jeff Bezos Announces He Will Enter Classroom Soon, punching billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk (unless billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson gets there early too).
It’s worth noting that Mars has neither grass, functional or otherwise, nor appears to have any form of life. (Earth’s deserts, including the Mojave, are where Mars rovers go to practice.) If the colonists of Mars are lucky, they might dig something like Microscopic, multicellular rotifers recently retrieved from Siberian permafrost by scientists. The tiny animals – resistant to radiation, extreme acidity, starvation, low oxygen and dehydration – were effectively frozen for 24,000 years, yet they came back to life and began to multiply.
“They are the most resistant animals in the world to any form of torture,” Matthew Messelson, a molecular biologist at Harvard, told The Times. “They are probably the only animals we know of that can do very well in outer space.”
The last time rotifers were up and about, woolly mammoths roamed the planet, Which now includes the Las Vegas Valley. To the extent that mammoths thought anything, they probably had very strong opinions about what was a “functional” species and what was not. Alas, we’ll never know.
What have we been metabolizing lately
Science in The Times, 90 Years Ago Today
MALINTA, Ohio – A terrifying aftershock shook six Ohio counties today, shaking homes in dozens of cities across this state and Indiana, and waking thousands of people from their slumbers. The crowd of people who came to Malinta as the center of shock tonight It remained a mystery whether it was caused by an explosion or the fall of a giant meteor..
Realizing that something far out of the ordinary had happened, hordes of motorists came out from several places to find out the reason. A strange hole half a mile from Malinta on State Route 109 was the focus of the crowd. …