It isn’t very often that people talk about golf courses as a way to help with some of the world’s most pressing water issues. Most of the time, they are criticized for using an enormous amount of water, particularly, in America, in western states like Arizona or Nevada which are beginning to experience the low thrum of an upcoming crisis. But, in the Maldive Islands, where the issue is not too little water, but the threat of too much, amazing floating island golf courses might be an answer to their desperation.
Last week, we talked about the creative ways that the Netherlands were dealing with rising sea levels caused by global climate change and the melting of polar icecaps (the caps aren’t the only reason for the rise- heat expands water molecules, which, on an oceanic level, causes noticeable changes). The Dutch have some luck to go with their courage and ingenuity, though- despite being at sea level, they are backed by a continent and not completely surrounded by water. This isn’t the case for the Maldive Islands, a jaw-droppingly beautiful chain of Indian Ocean islands, none of which sit more than 7.8 ft above sea level. A rising ocean is not cause for alarm- it is an existential threat.
So, when pondering what to do, the leaders of Maldives looked to use their tourism revenue to purchase land, but then decided to get a little more creative. What if their tourism revenue could promote sustainability? The answer came in the form of floating islands.
Floating islands differ from other manmade islands by being tethered to the sea floor rather than built up unnaturally from it, thus leaving a much smaller footprint. They can also continue to rise with the sea levels, making them immune to rising oceans. The first planned island is going to be a luxury resort complete with a many-tiered golf course, offering beautiful ocean views and the best of high-end living. Designed by the (not-coincidentally) Dutch firm Waterstudio, the course and resort is expected to be complete by 2015.
As the above picture shows, no expense will be spared in the design- imagine walking your way to the links while the ocean hums and waves and swims around you, only to emerge onto a tropical island created almost entirely for your pleasure, yet still in touch with and respectful of nature. You might wonder how you are so lucky, and what you can give back!
Well, just being there is helpful enough. The (considerable) money you’ll be spending for the privilege of paradise, and the knowledge gained by the creation of the island, will provide both funding for and a model of residential islands to be built for the population of the Maldives. The plan is to create other islands, a new ecologically-sound archipelago so that the citizens of Maldives won’t have to leave their ancient homes for Australia or New Zealand, and will not be threatened by rising water.
The plan is for the home to be ecologically sound and aesthetically pleasing, not disrupting the Maldivian way of life, but augmenting and enhancing their natural connection to the ocean. It is an expensive plan, but few people went broke overestimating the amount of money the world is willing to spend on golf. If the Maldives will continue to exist in some form, it will take this kind of planning, ingenuity, and daring.