Nevada is probably most famous for the lights and luxury of Las Vegas—the city receives 42 million visitors this year. However, Nevada has many claims to fame. It is also the driest and most mountainous state in the country and is home to over 150 mountain ranges not to mention over 3 million people. It spans nearly 110 square miles.
As Nevada is already the driest state in the nation, it is extremely vulnerable to extreme heat and drought. Nevada’s Reno is the fastest-warming city in the US. By 2050 the state is projected to see about 50 heat wave days per, up from 15 in 2000, and 30 days that reach dangerous levels. Already in the summer of 2019, Las Vegas had to set up shelters and temporary cooling stations to help people escape the intolerable heat. Wildfires are also of concern here.
These changes are putting an extreme strain on Nevada’s water supply. As in other places around the world, warmer temperatures shift rain patterns so that rain storms often become more intense even as they are less frequent. As snowpack melts earlier in the Spring, it also evaporates more quickly. The result of these combined forces is dried-out land and shrinking bodies of water. Lake Mead, which sits at Nevada’s southern border, currently sits at just 39% of what the lake can hold. The lake supplies water to nearly 20 million people and is fed from the Colorado River, which is also shrinking. As Nevada’s Director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources admitted last year, Nevada has already reached critical mass in terms of its water supply and is seeking ways to pump in water from out of state.
Nevada is not a major energy-producing state — in 2016, 86% of the energy consumed in Nevada came from out-of-state. Most of Nevada’s electricity comes from natural gas, which fuels about two-thirds of its consumption, coal supplies 6%, and 25% of Nevada’s electricity is generated from renewable energy. It ranks second in the nation in electricity generation from geothermal energy and fourth in utility-scale generation from solar.
Fortunately, Nevada is taking concerted steps towards addressing climate change. Governor Steve Sisolak joined the State Climate Alliance, an effort to keep states on track to comply with the Paris Climate Accords even after President Trump withdrew from the international agreement. In addition, Sisolak creative an executive order that required collaboration across state, private, and tribal partners to create a State Climate Strategy, which is expected to be released at the end of 2020.
Nevada is one of twenty five states committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is working to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Nevada’s clean energy jobs grew 32.43% in 2018, adding nearly 8,000 jobs. CREDIT: Windpower