The Hotel Valley Ho, a 1956 art deco beauty in Scottsdale, Arizona, has been renovated to perfection, with studio rooms both mod and modern thanks to Philippe Starck-designed bathtubs, midcentury-style recliners and other stylish touches. The suites go a step further with groovy mood lighting and living rooms that feel straight out of your parents’ 1970s basement (minus that awful shag carpet).
The tagline of Valley Ho’s onsite restaurant, ZuZu, is “classic food for current people,” which is pretty accurate. Order the pan-roasted chicken breast with a warm farro salad and a Manhattan and plot your next couple days: More swingin’ pool action or another sweet ride? It’s a toss-up if you ask us.
To make matters worse, a recent report from NASA and the University of California, Irvine shows that it's the water resources we don't even know we depend on that are depleted most quickly. Although Westerners sucked Lake Mead dry, that loss didn't reflect their real water usage. Researchers discovered that during the past decade, three-quarters of Western water loss has been taken from underground groundwater caches.
"We don't know exactly how much groundwater we have left, so we don't know when we're going to run out," lead author Stephanie Castle wrote in a press release. "This is a lot of water to lose. We thought that the picture could be pretty bad, but this was shocking." Castle's NASA colleagues note that where surface water is highly regulated, it's easy to compensate for surface loss by sucking dry largely unregulated groundwater.
It's not enough that drought-stricken areas can't manage their water use. In the Eastern United States, cities like Detroit—not even a state away from the largest freshwater resource in the North America—are having human rights issues because of their inability to keep taps running. Detroit Water and Sewage began cutting off water to thousands of city residents in March.
But Detroit has found an unlikely savior in animal welfare group in PETA, which is begging city residents to let it pay their water bills. The catch? The organization will pay 10 families' water bills if those families go vegan for one month, because foods in vegan diets require less water to produce.
According to a study published this week in Science, humans are directly responsible for 322 animal extinctions over the past 500 years, with two-thirds of those occurring during the past two centuries. Amphibians and invertebrate species have been especially hard hit by mankind's destructive habits.
The problem is becoming more severe with our own exponential population growth, which, if left unchecked, will hit 27 billion by 2100, according to Rodolfo Dirzo, a co-author of the study and professor of environmental sciences at Stanford University.
One obvious issue is that humans are unlikely to prioritize saving animal populations over more immediate concerns. In the same issue of Science, Haldre Rogers and Josh Tewksbury argue, "Animals do matter to people, but on balance, they matter less than food, jobs, energy, money, and development. As long as we continue to view animals in ecosystems as irrelevant to these basic demands, animals will lose."
The key may be to argue that by saving animal populations, we are acting in our own best interest. The preservation of wildlife, for instance, is frequently what sustains tourism-based economies.
"Whale watching in Latin America alone generates over $275 million a year," Tewksbury says. Meanwhile in the United States, Tewksbury claims that shark watching results in $314 million per year and directly supports 10,000 jobs.
Impressive as these numbers are, they become insignificant when compared with places like Namibia, where 73 percent of outside visitors are nature-based tourists, whose money accounts for 14.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product.