Op-ed: Flooding in Las Vegas and the urgent need for climate action

A cyclist falls while trying to ride through floodwaters near a stranded car, Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

By Selena Torres

September 18, 2023

The severe flooding over Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas, which left an apartment complex devastated and residents across the valley grappling with submerged streets, is a stark reminder of our escalating climate crisis. It’s not the first time we’ve seen such a catastrophe, and it won’t be the last unless we take bold action.

The increasing frequency of these floods isn’t an anomaly—it’s a symptom of a warming planet. Communities of color in Nevada are disproportionately affected by these climate change-induced disasters. Yet, instead of leading the charge against this existential threat, Governor Joe Lombardo has chosen to prioritize partisan politics over the health and safety of Nevadans.

In July, Lombardo made the cavalier decision to remove Nevada from the US Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This move, catering to right-wing extremists, disregards the very real and present danger that climate change poses to our state.

Is this what we want for Nevada? A future where we forsake our responsibility to protect our environment and our citizens?

Nevada has the potential to lead the nation in clean energy. Among all the states, we have among the most new jobs created by President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy investments. Over $9.14 billion has been invested in our state, creating more than 11,500 jobs in the past year alone. These are not just numbers on a page; they are real people, real families, and real opportunities.

RELATED: Clean energy jobs coming to Nevada’s Latino, Asian, and Native communities

This economic growth doesn’t come at the expense of a habitable planet—it will help ensure one. If we repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, like congressional Republicans have tried to do many times, we will not only lose these jobs but also face a future where our homes are underwater, our streets are flooded, and our communities are devastated.

Governor Lombardo’s decision to withdraw from the US Climate Alliance is not just a step backward—it’s a leap in the wrong direction. It’s a slap in the face to Nevadans living through extreme heat and catastrophic flooding, and a betrayal of future generations who will inherit the world we leave behind.

Instead of retreating, we should be doubling down on our commitment to combat climate change. We should be pushing for more clean energy investments, not less. We should be working to create more good-paying clean energy jobs, not fewer. We should be fighting for a sustainable future, not sacrificing it at the altar of short-term political gains.

The time for bold action is now. We must demand better from our leaders and hold them accountable for their decisions. Our future is at stake, and we can’t afford to wait any longer.

  • Selena Torres

    Selena Torres is an educator and was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. Selena brings her passion for education to the classroom every single day as an educator and is a proud member of the Nevada Education Association. She represents Nevada’s 3rd Assembly District.

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