Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Et si pour survivre, Las Vegas devait devenir une ville arabe traditionnelle ?

Si la question peut paraître incongrue, c'est pourtant bien celle que je me suis posée en lisant le scénario catastrophe écrit ci-dessous par Alan Weisman, l'auteur de The World Without Us, et publié dans Vanity Fair en avril 2008.

"By the late 2020s, something had to give, and it ended up being Las Vegas. With rainfall and snowpack in the Rockies steadily dwindling in a drying climate, the Lake Mead reservoir was no longer filling—meaning that turbines weren’t spinning, electricity wasn’t generating, and some 25 million downstream users in places like California were howling for what little precious water remained trapped behind the lower sections of the Hoover Dam. Nevada’s last gasp was a plea for Denver’s Colorado River allotment" (...)

(...) "The glittering southern Nevada town named for its vegas—meadows of sacaton grass that once grew around artesian springs burbling up from surrounding mountains, until they were pumped dry—had also tried piping in water from ranches as far as 250 miles to the north. But those wells, too, succumbed to deepening drought. Finally, by the mid-2030s, what had been America’s fastest-growing city at the turn of the 21st century just gave up.

The verdant lawns surrounding the Garden of the Gods at Caesars Palace have now reverted to desert crust.
" (...)

(...) "The plastered walls of empty casinos crack and exfoliate, shedding ever larger patches of stucco in desert heat that now regularly reaches 130 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August. (Although the city is abandoned, the pavement of Las Vegas still acts like a heat island, its concrete retaining enough warmth by night to keep daytime temperatures consistently several degrees hotter than the surrounding desert.)"

(...) "Sporadic rains in the mountains around the city have gradually replenished the old artesian springs. Nearly a century earlier, they had vanished beneath Fremont Street, site of downtown Las Vegas’s early grand casinos like the Golden Nugget. Now they are again welling to the surface, breaching cracked pavement and creating pressure fissures that cause parts of the nearby I-15 and U.S. 95 highway interchange to buckle and collapse. That’s where buses making the day trip from Los Angeles must stop to disgorge tourists, who, out of nostalgia or ghoulishness, still come to Vegas—no longer to gamble, but to gawk at this postmodern Western ghost town."

Pour aller plus loin sur ce sujet, voir Bad Futures et Et si dans un monde plus chaud et plus sec, la ville arabe devenait un modèle ?.

PS 1 - Pour ceux qui aimeraient voir à quoi ressemblerait Las Vegas noyé sous des dunes de sables, ils peuvent toujours regarder Resident Evil: Extinction. C'est franchement pas un chef d'oeuvre, mais certains plans sur la ville sont très efficaces.

PS 2 - Et dans la lignée des scenarii catastrophes, vous pouvez lire , et toujours sous la plume d'Alan Weisman, un texte très sombre sur un Le Caire asséché et envahi par les réfugiés climatiques. (sur ce sujet, voir "Cairo: a transit city for migrants and african refugees")