While skimming the Sunday Travel section in the Los Angeles Times, an article about a new resort in Dubai called Atlantis, The Palm caught my eye. After all, what could be more of an ocean conservation disaster than the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas? You’d be surprised.
I didn’t want to believe that this water-sucking playground could get built in Dubai, one of the driest places on earth. However, since the United Arab Emirates has 10% of the world’s crude oil reserves and environmental protection is merely an unneeded luxury there, the country has an unlimited supply of freshwater derived from the Persian Gulf. Over 70% of the nation’s freshwater comes from over 35 desalination plants, largely powered by cheap fossil fuel. The rest comes from increasingly depleted groundwater supplies.
What better water source for the 100-foot water slides coming off the Atlantis’ “Ziggurat” than energy- intensive desal? The Mesopotamians from 5000 years ago would have been so proud. Also, the hotel includes a mile-plus long stream that meanders through and under shark-filled aquaria. One aquarium on site contains nearly 3 million gallons. And no Atlantis Hotel would be complete without a Dolphin Encounter. No word yet on whether the resident dolphins are from the infamous Taiji Cove.
Also, you can’t beat the location. It is truly unique to Dubai. The Atlantis is housed on one of the three famed Palm Islands: Palm Jumeira. The hotel would have been located 33 feet under water if it wasn’t for the Persian Gulf real estate improvement. Together, all three Palms will be made of over 1.2 billion cubic yards of sand that will contain more than 100 luxury hotels, house millions of residents and guests and create over 300 miles of new beaches! If you think the Palm Islands are something, check out the World! At a cost of $14 billion, developers are creating 300 islands, ranging from 5 to 20 acres. It’s the perfect gift for the current economy!
No question that these improvements on nature are doing wonders for the local coral reefs. After all, a few billion tons of sand wouldn’t have any impacts on water clarity, water circulation or fragile corals, would it? Here’s guessing that EIRs and EISs aren’t much of a requirement in the UAE.
What’s amazing about all of this is that the UAE is building green buildings, signed the Kyoto Protocol, is spending a fortune on solar and cogeneration plants, and uses a lot of energy and water conservation technologies. However, local residents are the No. 1 per capita energy users on the planet and are No. 3 in water use behind the good old US of A and Canada. I’m pretty sure the Kyoto compliance strategy relies on the biggest Terrapass on the planet!