Dimmed Strip

They’re turning down the lights on the Strip, and it has nothing to do with not being able to pay the electric bill. From the LVRJ:

Planned marquee outages on the Strip come along about as often as Megabucks jackpots.

And like many of those slot-machine fortunes, lights-out events on Las Vegas Boulevard typically don't last long.

But on March 28, signs and message boards along the Strip — the brightest spot on Earth when viewed from space, the lore goes — will power down for 60 minutes as part of a global event intended to raise awareness of climate change.

Las Vegas is a flagship city for Earth Hour 2009, a World Wildlife Fund movement encouraging individuals, governments and businesses to dim or turn out lights. Casino executives and several local officials, including Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson, gathered Wednesday at a news conference on the south Strip to talk about Southern Nevada's role in Earth Hour.

ReviewJournal.com – News – Strip to go dark in global event.

Yeah, I got quoted a little further down. And yes, I did use the words “sanctimonious” and “insults the intelligence.” That might be a bit extreme, but it seems like this is just a publicity stunt that’s not going to do much to fight global warming, or global cooling, or whatever climate change we’re supposed to be aware of. It also cheapens the occasions when the Strip lights were dimmed in the past, which have been either to honor someone who helped build Las Vegas in the public eye or to mark a national tragedy. If you start using it for the cause of the week, it doesn’t mean as much when you do it for something important.

On the scale of global outrages, dimming the lights for something some people will find inappropriate is pretty small. But I think there are more immediate problems for Las Vegas, like the dip in tourism. Or water. Or the potential destruction of higher education in the state.

The funny thing is that fewer tourists is actually better for the environment. Flying to Las Vegas is a pretty wasteful expenditure of carbon. The more people who come here, the more fuel burned for transportation, lighting, and heat or cooling. So we don’t want people to be too aware of climate change when they think of Las Vegas. At the very least, there should be a caveat that they shouldn’t change their travel plans because of it. Right? Otherwise, it’s kind of like Pinnacle Atlantic City protesting urban blight or Big Elvis lecturing us on portion control.

Maybe the message should be this: Las Vegas was built on defying nature and the environment, and now that we’re winning there’s no need to start going soft.

Author: Dave

Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and author of several books, including Roll the Bones: The History of Gaming. Also Gaming and Hospitality editor for Vegas Seven magazine.

2 thoughts on “Dimmed Strip”

  1. I don’t think conservation, global warming, or “climate change” is a cause of the week. Las Vegas got more ink (media coverage) out of this light dimming thing than any other city involved and that is exactly the point. Immediate problems like “a dip in tourism” can be helped with “publicity stunts” that raise awareness for Las Vegas. If seems the “destruction of higher education” could be helped by folks involved seeing the connection between “publicity stunts” and marketing and visitor rates. I don’t work for the LVCVA, but even a casual observer like myself understands the connection.

  2. On last year’s Earth Hour the city blogs of the “real” world-class cities I follow were making a big stink about the skyline going dark (and neighbourhoods generally going dimmer) and I remember when it came to pacific time and looking outside and seeing the Strip glowing with as much coal-powered juice as it always does.

    Perhaps we should be a little more environmentally conscious? I would, for one thing, like some kind of rail system to return since oil seems destined to become the new rare commodity and people might not be flying around in the air as much as they do in a decade or so. All the next-generation rail proposals so far have been pretty bad, but even bringing back the slow, pokey Amtrak line to Los Angeles on the Union Pacific rails is better than nothing.

    If the city continues to look ignorant to the natural problems, or celebrate ignoring them, we’ll lose money over time. This is the same reason I’m concerned about water and traffic.

Comments are closed.