Global warming will kill Las Vegas. A half a mile above the high-tide line, the city has nothing to fear from melting polar caps and rising seas. But it is built on cheap gas, cheap food, cheap water, and cheap electricity.
The party will end when the Indians and Chinese drive up the cost of food, the end of fracking drives up the cost of cheap gas, and global warming sucks all of the water and power to the cities and customers willing to pay full price.
Fifteen, maybe twenty years. And the Strip will either shrink back to a size more like it was in 1960, or the town will become a cheap, ugly version of itself, pandering to planeloads of nongming and busloads of retirees.
It will be an ugly end to the place, the megahotels going to seed, closing, crumbling, waiting for the demolition teams and the wrecking balls; the strip malls becoming gang hangs for the ignored offspring of VR-addicted divorcees scraping out a living in an America torn between anger and hubris.
When I drive down the streets of the subdivisions far from the strip, seeing the homes, the schools, the neighborhoods, I stop thinking that Sin City deserves its fate, and start wondering where these people will go and what they will do when the neon goes out on the Boulevard, and the desert returns.