Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Climate change is a battle for existence in the Maldives

Agence France-Presse: Among the many grim predictions of climate change experts, the future fate of The Maldives stands out as a genuine doomsday scenario with the island chain nation facing nothing short of extinction. A one-metre (3.3-foot) rise in sea level would almost totally submerge the country's 1,192 coral islands scattered off the southern tip of India. Experts predict a rise of at least 18 centimetres is likely by the end of the century.

So pressing has the danger become that the new Maldivian President Mohamed Anni Nasheed has said his government will begin saving now to buy a new homeland for his people to flee to in the future. "We are talking about taking insurance -- if the islands are sinking we must find high land some place close by. We should do that before we sink," Nasheed said following his recent election victory. "I don't want Maldivians to end up as environmental refugees in some camp," he said.

The new Maldivian government says it has already broached the subject of new land with a number of countries and found them to be "receptive". India and Sri Lanka are targets because they have similar cultures and climates, while Australia has also been mooted as an option. The fate of the pristine white beaches of the Maldives, South Asia's most expensive tourist destination, is set to be one of the features in discussions at a UN climate conference in the Polish city of Poznan from December 1-12….

Photo of a beach in the Maldives by Nevit Dilmen, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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