Iceberg water

We’ve reached peak bottled water. From today, for a sweet £80, Harrods will sell ‘luxury water’ harvested from icebergs off the coast of Svalbard.

This is bad apparently because…..well, because why? She doesn’t manage to explain.

Best I can read between the lines is that she thinks it’s immoral to part fools from their money.

43 thoughts on “Iceberg water”

  1. “The environmental sustainability of the venture is the first concern of many people, Qureshi told the Guardian. “But we’re carbon neutral certified, and we’re supporting renewable energy projects in East Africa and China,” he said.”

    “I don’t understand, I thought you people loved this stuff..?”

  2. It takes a long time to get down to the only real “bad”, which is energy used for transportation. Which is nuts for water. Although long-haul holidays are a way bigger problem.

    Is it me, or is this “uses lots of water” talk complete drivel? That water isn’t being destroyed, is it? I guess it’s going to be used in cooling, so some of it might become water vapour… which falls down to earth.

  3. Given the target market for this rubbish, I think £80 is a little on the cheap side. Surely it should be possible to get some idiot with too much money to pay at least £150 a bottle.

  4. @salamander,

    No doubt the £80 supplier will then complain about some competitor coming in and charging more. Overcutting, I guess.

    And the newspapers will be demanding state intervention to save the jobs of those selling at £80.

  5. I think it’s a case of the more general “Veblen goods are bad, because conspicuous consumption”, although as you say, why anyone should object to fools being parted from their money is beyond me. Doesn’t it count as redistribution of wealth away from the rich?

  6. Peak bottled water? Nah. Peak bottled water would be harvested from the snows on the crest of Everest.
    Harrods never had much style.

  7. The Greenland ice-cap alone is 680,000 CUBIC MILES.

    She’s worried about 30 tonnes taken from the sea every year.

    You can’t satirize these people.

  8. Stunningly beautiful, best time to go is early March, the sun is up, and there’s snow on the ground.

    Longyearbyen is a strange mix of old mining town, university and tourism.

    Strangely for Europe, you are obliged to carry a firearm or be accompanied by someone with a firearm, if you leave the town perimeter. The bank has a “No guns” sign on the door.

    Locals are only permitted to buy a certain amount of alcoholic drinks from the store, but tourists can buy any amount; to prevent the locals drinking themselves to death in winter.

    It’s surprisingly civilised with hotels, restaurants, bars and shops, but then you get out of town on a snowmobile excursion or dog sledding and you rapidly lose any sense of direction or distance. One surprising effect of being in the high arctic is that without even a tree to provide a frame of reference it becomes near impossible to determine distance. Approaching a glacier I estimated the distance to it at about 3km, when we arrived at it my snowmobile’s odometer said we had covered 13km.

    Not a cheap holiday though.

  9. “But something so precious, so essential to all life – human, animal and mineral – should never be marketed as a luxury.”

    Mineral life?

  10. Pre industrial water from ice cores might have a better USP (less heavy metal). But yeah, the piece is hysterical. Ganges and Indus cease to flow because bottled glacier…

  11. BiND

    That article is just asking to be Fisked by TIS.

    +1, or anyone for that matter. It manages to be both pure comedy and utter drivel at the same time.

    We’ve reached peak bottled water.

    “Peak Guardian” more like – but experience continues to demonstrate that that will never be possible.

  12. Yes, I was going to say that I’m not sure about “Peak water” but it’s close to Peak Guardian.

    The journal of the most pampered class in human history – that they can obsess over pointless trivia like this.

  13. She also doesn’t understand what ‘peak’ means. And Veblen Good.

    They ain’t harvesting icebergs because there’s no cheaper fresh water.

    They’re harvesting them *because* its so expensive to do so.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    What is the link between rich people spending their money in ways that please them (but not the sort of people who write for the Guardian) and Third World peasants with poor and incompetent governments who have no clean water to drink?

    It is not as if the rich are stealing the water from the poor. It would just crash into the sea and melt otherwise.

    This is obviously not a product for me but I fail to see any harm to anyone else that it exists. Indeed I could be easily persuaded that it was making the world a more interesting place.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    Agammamon – “They’re harvesting them *because* its so expensive to do so.”

    I bet they aren’t. I bet that it is expensive because some people will pay it. That’s all.

  16. Does anyone recall the last but five hundred moral panic in the Guardian where bottled water was such a threat that fountains were to be installed all over London, to provide free water, so no-one had to purchase a bottle of the stuff. Boris Johnson climbed aboard the bandwagon as I recall.

    This is simply just a better class of moral panic.

  17. I am able to produce a special organic water with special mineral properties which is yellow in colour. I’m willing to sell it for much less than this

  18. Bravefart

    I am able to produce a special organic water with special mineral properties which is yellow in colour. I’m willing to sell it for much less than this.


    Supply and demand? And for the demand bit, employ TIS on a profit share. That RlJ link above – top entry – that’s Steve’s starting brief.

    Of course, you would have drink lots of glacier water yourself – and very expensive claret.

  19. “it’s immoral to part fools from their money”: sometimes it is. After my first successful venture as a schoolboy bookie, I stopped. If not immoral certainly distasteful.

    On the other hand rooking rich fools of their money is OK by me; it’ll become more productive in other hands, and the entertainment value is terrific.

  20. A canny government could pile in here and tax it. Anyone willing to pay £80 will pay £100 with a sin-absolving £20 sucked up by the State.

  21. Reminds of an ad that was running here that has two hipsters in a rowboat going out to an iceberg to collect ice for their whiskey.

  22. Thanks Rob you made me check whether mineral water is VAT rated- it is. Thus anyone buying said product is making a voluntary contribution of £13 a bottle to HMRC. Snowflakes should be celebrating but I guess maths is hard.

  23. I recall years ago having a debate with someone of a left wing persuasion about water use, and they rhetorically said “just think how much water has been removed from the natural environment and stored in bodies as the global population has exploded”. I say rhetorical because it never occurred to him that this enormously complex calculation could be performed very simply.

    Average human weight 75kg (according to the safety advice in the lift at the railway station). The human body is typically 60% water and there are about 9bn people on the planet. So the global population is storing 405,000,000 tonnes of water, holy shit that’s a lot!

    Until you do the cube root of it and find that it is a cube of water with sides of 750 meters. Time to stop worrying about that one.

  24. Well, there’s only two of them left, so about 90kg.

    Aren’t beetles meant to be the most numerous animals on the planet?

    The answer is probably somewhere between >a lot more than humans and <still not very much.

    On the other hand we might be able to flog "beetlejuice" at Harrods for £500/kg

  25. magnusw “removed from the natural environment and stored in bodies”

    so bodies are not part of the natural environment?

  26. So Much For Subtlety

    Peter S. Shenkin – “If you find the Titanic in the bottle, you can redeem it for a prize.”

    A little Leonardo di Caprio-shaped worm at the bottom of every bottle.

    Although, in fairness, these days most worms are LdC-shaped.

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    magnusw – “I recall years ago having a debate with someone of a left wing persuasion about water use, and they rhetorically said “just think how much water has been removed from the natural environment and stored in bodies as the global population has exploded”.”

    Did you point out to him that on the plus side most of that water hasn’t been taken from the rivers or the seas or any environmentally sensitive wetlands? It is, after all, mostly taken from other organisms such as elephants, pandas, Brazilian rain forest and the like?

    No need to worry about an impending water shortage at all

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