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7 ways humans are damaging the planet

Sept. 5, 2012, 5:56 p.m.
Las Vegas as seen from space

Photo: NASA/USGS

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Las Vegas: Growth in the desert

Lake Mead is a huge reservoir of the Colorado River and responsible for providing water to Nevada, Arizona, California and northern Mexico. A recent severe 11-year drought caused the lake to drop to levels not seen since 1956. Then there’s the taxing draw of Las Vegas, its closet city.

Pictured (left) is Las Vegas in 1984 as imaged by NASA’s Landsat-5 satellite. On the right is the city in 2007. These photos depict the growing urban sprawl of Las Vegas. Nearby is the shrinking Lake Mead, which is located on the border of Nevada and Arizona.

The drain on Lake Mead is due to the rapid growth in Las Vegas, as well as below-average rainfall. Lake Mead provides as much as 90 percent of southern Nevada's water. Fortunately, a wet winter allowed the lake to recover a bit in 2011.