How to Destroy the Planet

By Tom Randall and Eric Roston - 2013-05-22T16:13:09Z

Photograph by Robert Cameron

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Water the Desert

Desert cities import many resources, particularly water. The way to make sure demand never runs dry is to encourage everyone to have a nice lawn. 

Here Las Vegas is a counterexample. The desert city has put in place conservation programs aimed at curbing excessive watering. “It’s mostly turf in residential areas that’s the biggest user” of the city’s water, Las Vegas’s sustainability officer Tom Perrigo said. “The water district pays people to remove turf in their yards and put in drought-tolerant desert landscaping.”

As a result of that and other measures, the city cut water consumption by 36 billion gallons between 2002 and 2011, at a time when roughly half a million people moved into town. 

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