Dmitri N. Shalin

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The Social Health of Nevada: Leading Indicators and Quality of Life in the Silver State


UNLV: Center for Democratic Culture Publications

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When the inaugural Earth Day launched the first environmental decade in the U.S. more than forty years ago, protecting our air, water, land and other natural resources seemed a relatively straightforward task. Environmental polluters and exploiters would be brought to heel by tough laws. The U.S. and other industrialized nations responded to quality of life concerns associated with environmental degradation by adopting dozens of major environmental and resource policies and creating new institutions such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to manage environmental programs. Following these national developments, states and local communities began systematic efforts to address environmental problems.

What appeared to be a relatively straightforward job of controlling a few key pollutants and other development trends has become a far larger and more complicated task involving major changes in human behavior. Public opinion favoring greater environmental protection has continued to grow as social values change and mounting scientific evidence reveals threats to our local, regional, and global life support systems. People perceive the environment as more endangered now than it was 40 years ago. Yet, despite some successes, we remain a long way away from comprehensive solutions.

In 1987, the United Nation’s Report of the Brundtland Commission, Our Common Future, highlighted “sustainability” as the primary challenge of the 21st century. The report’s well-known and oft-cited minimalist definition says: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), 1987). Sustainability requires communities to evaluate how they can most efficiently use resources and create infrastructures that protect and enhance life for human and biotic systems now and in the future. Sustainability requires comprehensive, long- term thinking and planning to account for environmental impacts, emphasizing ways to mitigate impacts that damage environmental resources on which we rely. This report offers an overview of key environmental sustainability issues we face in Nevada, identifies steps to improve the situation, and lists community resources available to those interested in helping with the Silver State’s environmental concerns associated with four key sustainability issues – air, water, land, and energy.


Sustainability; Environmental issues in Nevada; Environmental concerns


Community-Based Research | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Sustainability

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Jennifer Stevens, Genevieve Minter, and Robert Futrell, “Environment and Sustainability in Nevada.” 2017. In The Social Health of Nevada: Leading Indicators and Quality of Life in the Silver State, edited by Dmitri N. Shalin. Las Vegas, NV: UNLV Center for Democratic Culture, http://cdclv.unlv.edu