On a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean lies the Republic of Maldives. Once a colonial possession, this picturesque island chain has been a popular tourist destination since the 1970’s. Today, tourism makes up about one quarter of the economy and provides a lifeline to the country’s third-of-a-million people along with its agricultural activities. However, there is a big problem in the Maldives – it may soon be underwater.
You see, in the past century, sea levels have risen about 8 inches. This wouldn’t normally be a problem for most countries – but then again, most countries don’t have an elevation of four feet and eleven inches. This not only makes it the least-elevated country in the world, but it also means that rising sea levels could make the island nation uninhabitable by 2100. Many scientists dispute the facts surrounding the Maldives’ impending doom, but fail to back up any claims that sea levels were dropping, or even that they weren’t rising. Satellite imagery and sea level buoys have confirmed that there is indeed a danger to the island nation.
Unfortunately, this is not good news for the inhabitants of the island chain. Even if carbon emissions stopped today, it would take nearly a century for the climate change to reverse itself – and that is assuming that no part of the current global warming is due to our climate’s natural warming and cooling cycles, something that we know is almost certainly not true.
That being said, the Maldivians are not taking this lying down. The government has explored many possibilities including the purchasing of land in Sri Lanka, India, and Australia to prevent the citizens of his country from becoming complete climate refugees. They have also taken very public actions to bring attention to humanity’s part in global morning, including completely eliminating their own carbon emissions. The government even held a cabinet meeting underwater to raise awareness of the issue. So basically, if you were ever planning on going to the Maldives, I would definitely pencil something in for the next decade or so – not only will you get to enjoy a beautiful paradise, but some of the money you spend there will make its way into a fund to be used for purchasing a new country for the island republic.