[Coral-List] Sustainable tourism!?

Douglas Fenner douglasfenner at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 1 19:29:26 EST 2011

       My understanding is that the piping systems to do cold water air 
conditioning are quite expensive to install.  I believe it cost the 
Tahiti resort around a million dollars.  If you think about installing a whole new set of pipes under the downtown of a city like Honolulu, it 
would be a real challenge and expensive.  So installing the system is expensive, but operating it greatly reduces energy use, since something like several kilowatts of 
energy spent pumping gets you a megawatt of cooling.  Some large 
multiplication factor like that.  So operating costs are low for what you get.

       I don't know the details of where the Tahiti resort releases the deep 
water once it has gone through the cooling system, but it should be 
below the reef.  Being cool, it should sink from there, and cause little or no problem.  Research on that would be good.  Indeed, deep water in 
the tropics has a lot more nutrients than the warm shallow water on a 
reef, and not releasing it on the reef is important.  That's an easy 
thing to put into the design.
      Most renewable technologies have not taken off by themselves, because 
they are more expensive than just burning fossil fuels.  Here is one 
technology that is much cheaper to run than burning fossil fuels, so it 
saves money as well as carbon emissions.  Using it at tropical resorts 
is a tiny use compared to air conditioning coastal cities in the tropics, but 
given the high cost of building the piping systems, small installations 
are a good way to test it out and work out any problems, like where to 
release the water.  Sure, if there are other low hanging fruit in dive 
resorts and hotels, let's pick them, by all means.  But this one will 
greatly reduce the fossil fuel use to provide what is probably the 
largest single energy use of tropical hotels, air conditioning.  I think it should be tried, and environmentalists should insist that the water 
be disposed of properly.  We need to work on all ways of reducing fossil fuel use, or the planet is going to heat to the point of destroying all the reefs, and causing a lot of other damage that will cost humans all 
over the planet dearly.
     I don't see how this cheap form of air conditioning will encourage waste of other energy.  It may 
make it attractive for more places to be air conditioned, but a resort 
has to have a lot of money to invest to build the piping- the resort in 
Tahiti was one of those very expensive, all-inclusive resorts.  The 
little, low-cost, local places won't have that kind of money, so it is 
not likely to spread widely and get people who don't have air 
conditioning to install it.  Thatch houses will not be installing these 
systems, neither will places away from coastlines or on coastlines that 
are far from deep water.

   Cheers,  Doug
Douglas Fenner
Coral Reef Monitoring Ecologist
Dept Marine & Wildlife Resources
American Samoa

Mailing address:
PO Box 3730
Pago Pago, AS 96799

work phone 684  633 4456

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 From: Bill Allison <allison.billiam at gmail.com>
To: Douglas Fenner <douglasfenner at yahoo.com> 
Cc: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> 
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 12:53 PM
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Sustainable tourism!?

RE. the deep water cooling, I wonder:
1). What is in the water brought up from depth and how it is to be disposed of? I know of one location that intended to release it into the beach berm. Perhaps closed circuit is the answer?
2). There is a danger that this "free" cooling will be an incentive for even less energy conservation. At many resorts the low-hanging fruit have yet to be picked.

On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 4:58 PM, Douglas Fenner <douglasfenner at yahoo.com> wrote:

     I agree that the consumption of fossil fuels in flying to tropical resorts is a major problem for dive tourism.  Trying to reduce fossil fuel burning is also a major problem for a lot of aspects of our lives, not just dive tourism, and one we must solve, but most governments don't want to act, and most individuals don't want to reduce their consumption or pay extra to change to more sustainable ways.  It is a major problem for the whole world, and of course the world is warming which is threatening mass coral mortality from bleaching and acidification that will increasingly slow coral and coralline algae calcification, and together these threaten to end coral reefs as we know them.
>     I think we are going to have trouble getting traction just asking people not to take vacations to go diving in the tropics, I doubt just asking people not to do that will make much of a dent, and if it did it would be a major economic hardship to many poor countries in the tropics that depend heavily on tourism.  But I think we might have better prospects for trying to reduce fossil fuel consumption without reducing dive tourism.  (dive tourism, in spite of all the limitations, still provides an economic incentive for people to protect reefs)  One thought I have long had is that if I could take half as many trips, but stay twice as long, I could have as much diving fun and yet use half as much fossil fuel flying there and back, which would also save me money.  Another idea is that we can fly carbon-neutral.  There are companies that provide the service of reducing greenhouse gas emissions somewhere in an amount equal to that produced by
> your part of a flight.  They do things like reduce methane emissions from land fills, which provides a relatively large effect for the cost (I was tempted to say "bang for the buck" but with methane, maybe I won't light that match!  grin).  Anyhow, the cost is surprisingly little for a fairly long flight.  The trick is to somehow get people to do this, because it is an extra cost for their trip, and even though it is a small cost, the traveler doesn't experience any immediate direct benefit themselves, other than perhaps feeling a bit less guilty.  But it has the potential to neutralize the effect of flying on greenhouse gas production.
>    Resorts certainly use fossil fuels as well.  One major form of this is electricity for air conditioning, because the electricity is almost always produced by burning fossil fuels.  But there are alternatives, and one is highly cost effective.  Right offshore from most dive resorts there is cold water only 1000 feet deep.  A pipe and pump can bring that water up, distribute it through heat exchangers to cool rooms, using a tiny amount of electricity for the pump for the amount of cooling produced.  The system saves so much money that it quickly pays for itself, and then goes on saving money and CO2 emissions long long after.  A resort in Tahiti that uses it loves it.  I'm told that such a system is planned for Honolulu.  The piping is clearly the main hurdle.  But unlike renewables like solar, wind, and ocean thermal electricity generation, it is much less expensive to run than current practice.
>    My point is, that there are ways of greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced by dive tourism.  We can do much better than we have been doing without killing dive tourism.  Dive tourism helps build a natural constituency of people who love reefs and will stand up for them.  Doesn't seeing them first hand give us motivation to want to save them?
>    Cheers,  Doug
>Douglas Fenner
>Coral Reef Monitoring Ecologist
>Dept Marine & Wildlife Resources
>American Samoa
>Mailing address:
>PO Box 3730
>Pago Pago, AS 96799
>work phone 684  633 4456
>Climate summit faces big emitters' stalling tactics
>Rich nations 'give up' on new climate treaty until 2020
>Cold Comfort: Frigid Months Will Still Come in a Warming World
>Greenhouse gases soar: no signs warming is slowed
>Skeptic finds he now agrees global warming is real.
>In 2010, a survey of more than 1,000 of the world's most cited and published climate scientists found that 97 percent believe climate change is very likely caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
>The American 'allergy' to global warming: why?
> From: Juergen Herler <juergen.herler at univie.ac.at>
>To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 6:05 AM
>Subject: [Coral-List] Sustainable tourism!?
>Dear listers!
>I really like some of the ideas, especially that well-managed coral reef
>destinations should be certified and financially rewarded by visitors.
>However, the main problem why I believe that tourism cannot contribute
>much for sustaining ecosystems in general is that tourism in itself is
>highly unsustainable. If you fly across half the world to spent one or two
>nice weeks in one of the luxury resorts of the Maldives, which takes an
>enormous amount of gasoline every day to be run in a comfortable way, how
>can that ever save their coral reefs in the long term and not do major
>damage to these and other ecosystems in the world?
>It of course would be great if tourism would become more 'eco' (based for
>example on some of the good suggestions in previous posts) but in terms of
>energy consumption, there is no such thing as 'eco'-tourism. Sustainable
>holidays will unfortunately only be the ones that are spent in the own
>garden. But since people will certainly not accept that, it is of course
>good if they prefer short- versus long-distance trips and destinations,
>which perform good conservation and are highly efficient in terms of water
>and energy consumption, but such destinations are usually expensive and
>restricted to the more wealthy people, which do not represent the majority
>of tourists. I have been doing research in the Red Sea of Egypt for more
>than seven years and this country has experienced a tremendous tourism
>boom, especially along the Red Sea coast, but unfortunately they receive
>many tourists which carry little money to Egypt and do not care much about
>corals reefs at all. The great majority are even not divers and do not
>like corals (because it hurts when they step on them during swimming). I
>also doubt that it is is a very humane approach that we preserve
>ecosystems (especially those of third world countries) because wealthy
>people from other countries - who can afford to travel there - would like
>to see them untouched. Very often you meet tourists who wish that, for
>example, fishing is banned from reefs so that they can see more fish while
>diving, but this fish very often feeds the local people (although they
>very often also do not fish sustainably).
>This all may apply less to destinations (just for example) like the
>Caribbean, when visited by US-tourists from the southern USA or to the
>Great Barrier Reef, visited by eastern Australians, but what I want to say
>is that it is just not correct to tell people that they do something good
>for an ecosystem if they travel a long distance to see it, instead of not
>visiting it, at least as long as tourism is run the way as it currently is
>(usually starting in pristine areas and degrading those areas quickly). I
>know this is a dilemma, but Ulf’s suggestion of a sustainability index
>could be applied to holiday trips also, and tax the travel and service
>providers according to that would be a necessary thing. So people could
>not easily shift to cheaper and unsustainable travels or destinations (and
>there are far too many of those in the world), if the sustainable ones
>become even more expensive (and some of the previous suggestions would of
>course cause that). People with less money would probably have to make
>shorter-distance trips and stay there longer, which for sure would still
>enable nice holidays. Today, people are 'fined' if they decide for more
>sustainable holidays. From my point of view, this cannot be the right
>Best wishes
>Dr. Juergen Herler
>Faculty of Life Sciences
>University of Vienna
>Althanstraße 14
>A-1090 Vienna/Austria/Europe
>e-mail: Juergen.Herler at univie.ac.at
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>Coral-List mailing list
>Coral-List at coral.aoml..noaa.gov

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