Energy-intensive water park in the desert, offers a “home” to displaced penguins.
Every now and then, the Middle East comes up with a scheme that is so ridiculously un-eco that we can’t believe someone thought it was good for the planet. Some of the most controversial and counterproductive measures we’ve covered so far include the not so green Masdar project or celebrities releasing balloons to highlight the importance of green living; and now comes the UAE’s largest ice-themed water park.
Whilst not in particular good taste, there is nothing wrong with this project until you find out that the park has been built around the issue of global warming. Apparently the park follows the story of a clan of Penguins who are displaced from the Arctic (and not the Antarctic where they normally live) by the impacts of climate change, drift along the oceans until they make a home in the coastal waters of the Arabian gulf.
Global Warming Gimmick?
Guardian UK newspaper, Leo Hickman muses, “Yes, that’s right the country with one of the world’s highest carbon footprints per person, which has got rich, in part, through the region fossil fuel bonanza, has built a tourist attraction that takes the world’s most pressing environmental problem and turns it into a plaything.
After a two-year delay, the theme park opened this week boasting the world’s largest man-made waterfall called Penguin falls with 100,000 gallons of water cascading down every minute. Costing a reported $100m, the theme park is expected to bring in 10,000 visitors a day and it’s ‘novel attractions’ include a rain dance pool (downpour meets disco), a man-made Coral Reef for snorkelling complete with live fish and various other children’s water games.
Waterfalls and Water Shortages
Now these features may seem quite impressive but with many locals suffering from water shortages and power cuts, what stands out is how irresponsible and un-ecological it is. To keep this park in working order it needs a 4MW power generation system, a separate water desalination plant which produces 525,000 gallons of water as well as water filtration systems.
Nothing to fear though, they state, as the water will be recycled and used for agricultural purposes. What they fail to mention is that a village near the development feels that their fishing industry is suffering due the loss of a public beach which was once populated with ghost crabs. Desalination is also problematic as it an energy-intensive process which destroys marine organisms such as phytoplankton and fish as well as the ocean environment once heavy concentrations of salty water are pumped back out.
The Middle East also suffers from severe water shortage issues. A report by the World Bank states that under current trends, water availability in Africa and the Middle East will drop by 50% per person by 2050. Consequently, the diversion of water into extravagant water parks is not only misguided but a dangerous indicator of the lack of real understanding or willingness to take meaningful action on climate change.
Image via IRRI Images on Flickr.
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