The Maldives: A tropical nation in the Indian Ocean which is composed of 26 atolls making up 1,192 tiny islands scattered 800km across the equator. A popular tourist hotspot, the island has been battling much turbulence in the recent years with government instability, but a more disturbing danger is also present, the very real scenario of the islands being swept under the sea.
Scientists are predicting the possibilities climate change will have on the earth, and one of the main concerns is rising sea levels. Islands are of course the most affected by these changes, and the Maldivan islands very much so due to the small mass of the islands and their low elevation; 80 percent of the islands are less than 1m above sea level. According to former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives are ranked the third most endangered nation due to flooding from climate change.
Although the current rise of sea level around the Maldives is only 1.7–1.8 millimetres per year, seasonal flooding is already common in the islands, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted the most extreme sea level rises would be 59 cm by 2100, which means that most of the Maldives 200 inhabited islands are in danger of being engulfed by the sea, and many may need abandoning. In 2009, Nasheed held a cabinet meeting underwater to raise awareness of the risk of rising sea levels, with his main fear being that Maldivians could become climate refugees.
Solutions to the crisis are unclear, and previous plans of buying land in India, Sri Lanka or Australia were abandoned upon the ousting of Nasheed. However, efforts are still being made to combat the crisis; with the country planning to eliminate or offset all carbon emissions by 2020.
But Maldives efforts alone are not enough to stop the rising tides; a global effort is needed. Nasheed was famous for his many appearances on American talk shows like David Letterman and The Daily Show discussing the need for global action on climate change. However, successive presidents inertia towards the issue has left some doubting the government’s willingness to tackle the problem globally.
This along with the recent mass cancellations of tourism due to political instability could reduce their funding for fighting against climate change, as tourism accounts for 28% of the country’s GDP.
Although efforts must be made to secure the islands, it seems that the methods to do so remains unclear, and unless the political system of the island stabilises, they may begin to lose the means to implement any meaningful change.