If you’re looking for a sign from the End Times, here’s one: Las Vegas, the city where seemingly anything and everything is spoken of, has made grass – the ornamental kind – illegal.
Many in the West are experiencing the worst drought in decades, a ‘mega-drought’ that has ignited early veld fires and severe water shortages – and the seasonal heat has barely begun. “There’s a 100 percent chance it’s getting worse before it gets better,” Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Graphics Editor Nadja Popovich today. “We have the whole long, dry summer to get through.”
Lake Mead, which sits on the Colorado River (behind Hoover Dam) and supplies 90 percent of the water supply to Las Vegas and southern Nevada, reached its lowest capacity since its creation in the 1930s this week. And several states that draw their water in strict allocations from the Colorado River must impose strong restrictions on its use in cities and for farming.
“We are currently at a point of existence in the West,” Kyle Roerink, executive director of the nonprofit Great Basin Water Network, said in a telephone conversation. “Even basic terminology that was once a given – now we see a shift in the designation in the direction of saying: now, we are not in a period of drought, we are in a period of aridization.”
Turn on acid, leave grass. Nevada Government Steve Sisolak has just signed the law Bill AB356, which requires the removal of all ‘non-functional grass’ from the Las Vegas Valley by 2027. The effort will save about 10 percent of the region’s annual allocation of water from the Colorado River. “This is a really good time to offer something like this,” he said. Roerink, whose organization was part of a two-party coalition, including the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, which supports the bill.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has not yet formed the committee that will define ‘non-functional grass’. So far, the category describes the few thousand hectares of grass flooring in the street meridians, office parks and housing developments, and it accounts for about a third of all the grass in the region.
“The best way to describe it is that it’s the kind of grass that is only used when someone pushes a lawnmower over it,” he said. Roerink said. ” Another shorthand that became commonplace during this legislative session was ‘useless grass’. ” (The other seemingly useful grass – at parks, schools, golf courses, and single-family parks – is still allowed, at least for now.)
‘Non-functional grass’ – the phrase is an existential knot. Is it superfluous, or an oxymoron? Either way, it perfectly combines our twisted relationship with nature: some grass is good, other grass is bad, and all of this (except the species that grows wild in meadows) is designed and put together by us.
The challenge is not so much excess grass as excess people. Southern Nevada has experienced explosive growth over the past year, and water use has increased by more than 9 percent since 2018. The destruction of ‘useless’ grass was a good first step, said Mr. Roerink said, but he was worried that the water saving would simply be translated. in an argument for new development (no doubt with more useful grass).
“What are the limits of the Mojave Desert?” he said. ‘You know, in some of the areas where Vegas wants to develop, there is desert tortoise habitat, and there is not much good desert tortoise habitat left. What will its future be like? ”
The fundamental question is: What counts as a ‘functional’ or useless species? Mankind seems deadlocked to find out. We have the ability to look for the most difficult environments and try to plant ourselves there, from the Amazon to Antarctica. Lately, it has been outer space, with Mars as the ultimate destination. On Monday, billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos announced that he would soon be taking the plunge and hitting billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk (unless billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson gets there sooner).
It is noted that Mars has no grass, functional or otherwise, or observable life. (Earth’s deserts, including the Mojave, are where Martian orbits go to practice.) If Mars colonists are lucky, they can dig up something similar to the microscopic, multicellular rotators that scientists recently obtained from Siberian permafrost. The small animals – resistant to radiation, extreme acidity, hunger, low oxygen and dehydration – had been effectively frozen for 24,000 years, but they returned and began to multiply.
“They are the world’s most stable animal for virtually any form of torture,” Matthew Meselson, a molecular biologist at Harvard, told The Times. “It’s probably the only animal we know that can do pretty well in outer space.”
The last time the rotating was round, woolly mammoths wandered around the planet, including in what is now the Las Vegas Valley. To the extent that mammoths thought anything, they probably had very strong opinions about who was a ‘functional’ species and who was not. Alas, we will never know.
What we have been metabolizing lately
Science in The Times, 90 Years Ago Today
MALINTA, Ohio – A massive shock has shaken six Ohio provinces today, shaking homes in dozens of towns in this state and Indiana and resurrecting thousands of sleeping people. Tonight are the crowd of people who came to Malinta as the center of the shock was obscure whether it was caused by an explosion or by the fall of a giant meteor.
When hordes of motorists realized that something very unusual had happened, they drove from many places to find out the cause. The crowd was a strange hole, half a kilometer from Malinta on State Route 109. …