Is this a sign of the times to come or a sign of the crimes to come? The UK Times reports:
Versace, the renowned fashion house, is to create the world’s first refrigerated beach so that hotel guests can walk comfortably across the sand on scorching days. The beach will be next to the the new Palazzo Versace hotel which is being built in Dubai where summer temperatures average 40C and can reach 50C.
The beach will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface. The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.
And in the understatement of the year, the Times adds:
The scheme is likely to infuriate environmentalists.
I’m guessing the resort will also be introducing Hummer golf carts and coal-powered jet-skis. Then again, maybe the snarkiness is premature. Maybe this will be a "sustainable" refrigerated beach:
However, Soheil Abedian, founder and president of Palazzo Versace, said he believed it is possible to design a refrigerated beach and make it sustainable. "We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on," he said. "This is the kind of luxury that top people want."
Note to Soheil Abedian — we have a sustainable refrigerated beach, and it’s called the West Coast of the United States. But if you really wanted to make this "sustainable" then at least power it with solar thermal baseload — you’re in a friggin’ desert after all.
Hyder Consulting, a British construction consultancy, is overseeing the engineering on the project. The hotel will be marketed strongly in the UK where Dubai is a popular tourist destination, attracting about 800,000 Britons a year.
Terrific, the British can cut their own emissions sharply and then fly elsewhere to detroy the planet (see "UK goes for 80% cut").
Competition to serve the world’s rich is getting intense, especially in Dubai. The city already boasts the world’s first seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, while Armani, a competitor with Versace, is building a similarly branded Dubai hotel.
The refrigerated beach is designed to give Versace the edge in this battle of luxury lifestyles. The system will be controlled by thermostats linked to computers.
Versace’s plans have shocked environmentalists. Rachel Noble, the campaigns officer at Tourism Concern, which promotes sustainable tourism, said that the carbon generated by such projects would contribute to climate change, whose worst effects would be felt by the poor.
"Dubai is like a bubble world where the things that are worrying the rest of the world, like climate change, are simply ignored so that people can continue their destructive lifestyles," she said.
Aided by cheap oil and gas, Middle Eastern nations have poured enormous resources into controlling temperature. About 60% of Dubai’s huge power bill is for air-conditioning; each person living there has a carbon footprint of more than 44 tons of CO2 a year.
These plans should not just be shocking to environmentalists. They should be shocking to anyone who cares about the health and well-being of future generations. Certainly Americans are in no position to tell others not to destroy the climate, at least not yet.
But the time will come pretty damn soon when such traditional conspicuous consumption will be seen for what it really is, conspicuous self-destruction. As the horrific reality of climate change becomes self-evident, first we will see boycotts of brands like Versace, who apparently want to see the whole world turned into Venice (see "Venice flooding provides glimpse of what’s to come"). Then we will see trade barriers and sanctions against entire countries that refuse to join the planetary struggle to preserve the health and well-being of the next 50 generations.
We have all the wealth we need to act — the lemming-esque luxury of Palazzo Versacci is but one clear piece of evidence that we could easily part with 0.11% of it per year. Certainly that’s not much to pay to avoid an inundated, ice-free, desertified planet with one large hot, acidified dead zone in place of our teeming oceans (see "Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction").
But hey, when the ocean is dead, Palazzo Versace can just recreate a fake ocean full of tropical fish, corals, and other living creatures driven by a big petroleum-driven wave machine.
What did the Bible say? The rich ye shall always have with you. Something like that.
This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.