In a recent post, Pablo from Treehugger (a site we deeply admire) concluded that Ski Dubai’s indoor ski slope is not that bad. He based this conclusion on a beautifully calculated analysis of the facility’s energy consumption compared to what people would spend to travel instead to the Alps.
The trouble is, Pablo forgot to address Dubai’s infamous water shortages. A lot of energy goes into desalinating Dubai’s saltwater to produce fresh water, which, according to Ski Dubai, is necessary to produce snow. Add to Pablo’s calculations the energy required to produce the water, and the irresponsibility of using so much water in a country as desperate for it as Dubai, and Ski Dubai looks less and less attractive.
Pablo’s an expert environmental consultant and I’m not, but I’ve put together some numbers to add to his.
He reports that Ski Dubai produces 30 tonnes of fresh snow a day. It’s not possible to convert tonnes into gallons, so I converted tonnes to pounds (there are roughly 66, 139 pounds in 30 tonnes), and converted those into gallons. If I’ve done this correctly, that means that Ski Dubai uses 8,500 gallons each day just to produce the snow.
The average amount of energy required to produce 1,000 gallons of water is 15-23 kWh. That amounts, if I’m right, to an additional 62 MWh each year. Pablo estimated that the fancy ski slope in the middle of the desert uses 255 MWh annually, or the equivalent of 900 round trip air tickets from Dubai to Munich. I don’t know how he got that number, but we’ll have to add roughly 200 plane rides to his.
Still, according to his argument, thousands of people who might otherwise be tempted to travel to the Alps are being satisfied by the Dubai slopes and therefore those emissions aren’t so bad.
But, are they really satisfied? What’s to say that Ski Dubai doesn’t make people who should otherwise get used to their desert lifestyle crave the real thing? Not only that, but Pablo also assumes that it’s every person’s god-given right to go skiing.
I hate to be the frumpy fun-killer, but it’s exactly that kind of attitude that causes so much trouble. People DO believe that even though they live in the middle of the desert they should be able to ski – even though nature never intended it to be this way.
Our constant desire to manipulate deserts and mountains and oceans to fit our costly desires has been our climatic downfall to date. If we want change, we’ll have to find a more sensible way.
More on Environmentally Crazy Schemes From The Emirates:
image via Doogsta