The paradise paradox: Maldives, a sinking country?

The paradise paradox: Maldives, a sinking country?

Maldives is now the poster-child for the consequences of climate change. Global warming will almost certainly lead to the demise of these islands which are predicted to submerge in thirty years’ time. Disappearing into the rising sea, it will become the first country having to relocate all its population as refugees due to global climate change.

While Maldives is almost about to hit its tipping point, the 449,365 Maldivians will have no choice but to travel away and find new homes. The Government considered Australia, India and Sri Lanka as countries of relocation, back in 2008. However, since the Presidency changed, Maldives is determined to stay put and resist climate change. The people are now faced with an extremely challenging psychological reality – they come from an island on which their grandchildren will never live or know the roots of. Adding to this gloom, the tombs of their grandparents will soon be swallowed by the sea. This damage is enough to render the place as an unfulfilling and unsustainable place to live in. Currently, there is no real change in levels of emissions to save the islands from disappearing. Combining past emission levels, there will be a 3°C rise in the world’s temperature which is enough to sink the islands. Relocation of people due to climate change is not unprecedented. But, as said, this would be the first time that an entire country would relocate due to being built on land that will no longer exist…

Rising sea levels are an effect of top emitting nations, which release exorbitant amounts of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Both the atmosphere and the oceans are increasingly absorbing carbon. This process leads to ocean acidification, which is accompanied by a plethora of negative effects. The Maldives heavily depends on fishing as a main source of occupation. Due to climate change those dependent on that sector now have a low-quality life. Temperature change looms as a threat, making the area prone to natural disasters and physically dangerous to inhabit. The majority of its islands are less than  one or two meters above sea level. And similarly to many other South Asian and oceanic archipelagos, the island’s topography is being decomposed by high surface erosion and sea levels.  

Maldives is and will be the perfect example to illustrate the link between climate change, human rights and migration. Unless, policymakers understand migration as a climate change adaptation option and pay attention to related development issues every effort is destined to fail. Thus, it is essential to understand human choices of migration in this process as well, namely what migrating implies in such a scenario and with the limited resources available to adapt.

While some say that this issue is a hoax, a report in October, 2018 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has confirmed that Kiribati, the Maldives, Tuvalu and Marshall islands are about to sink. Thus, it is time to act and not speculate. The Maldives came up with a monitoring plan to unite all countries in presenting solutions at the UN Climate talks in December 2018. The Former President Mohamed Nasheed stated the urgent need to implement the Paris Agreement’s call for keeping global warming than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). The country’s appeal was – “We don’t think we are asking for much. We are just only saying: Please do not kill us.”

It should be every country’s resolution to come up with immediate actions in regards to the trauma that every Maldivian will be witnessing. An option could be requiring larger emitting nations to pool-in funds to support relocation to new places. Another plausible recommendation could be for these countries to accept refugees from Maldives into their nations, basing it on the amount of carbon they emit. Finally, both options can be combined together with serious commitment to lower emissions, otherwise a greater catastrophe loom above us all. The entire world is to be blamed and in this case the country itself does not have a significant contribution to the issue. For this reason, Maldivians should be granted a special refugee status. This is an environmental disaster accompanied by slander, apathy and human destruction. If we do not mend our apathetic ways, the Maldives will be the first in a series of human based ecological atrocities that will affect the entire world.

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8 Comments

  • Avatar
    Dr. Samir DasGupta
    25/03/2019, 4:42 pm

    UNO should convene a special meeting to consider Maldiv’s future. Both India and Pakistan should be involved .

    REPLY
  • Avatar
    Dee Neveaux
    10/06/2019, 3:51 pm

    In 1988 warning was given that the Maldives would be ‘sunk’ and non existent in 30 years time.
    30 years later warning is again being given that in 30 years time Maldives will have ‘sunk’ and be non existent.
    I believe in 30 years time the Maldives will still be exactly where they were 30 years ago and "climate change scientist/alarmists" will again be crying wolf!

    REPLY
    • Avatar
      Oleena Chaudhuri@Dee Neveaux
      19/06/2019, 2:04 pm

      Let us just hope what you say turns out to be correct! While the country is preparing itself to evade this crisis, we should not just sit and contemplate.

      REPLY
    • Avatar
      Mary Barrand@Dee Neveaux
      23/09/2019, 2:27 am

      I agree, we first there in 1988 because friends told us that we had better go sooner rather than later since the islands were slowly disappearing underwater due to rising sea levels and the coral would be dead. We visited the islands on a regular basis until the early 2000’s and in the 90’s the seas were warmer and the coral was being bleached but within the next few years it had all come back. We have proof of this since my husband films underwater on all his dives.

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    • Avatar
      Geoff Thomas@Dee Neveaux
      30/09/2019, 12:08 pm

      Excellent previous comment and oh so correct! The Maldives are spending millions on an upgraded airport and major hotel chains are also spending millions on new accommodation in the country. Does anyone doubt that perhaps the Maldives are not going to disappear beneath the waves? Man made global warming is a socialist plot designed to redistribute wealth from the rich countries to the so called poor countries

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  • Avatar
    Cris T
    01/10/2019, 11:25 pm

    In 2012, former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said, "If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be under water in seven years." He pledged to make the Maldives carbon-neutral by 2020. But… "[Nasheed’s] successors have been less proactive: last September [2016] the emissions target was watered down to a 10 per cent reduction by 2030." https://www.ft.com/content/7f9c6208-a1ae-11e6-891e-abe238dee8e2

    Despite this, seven years later… global carbon emissions continue to rise unabated, and the islands are still there. Millions are being spent on luxury housing, and hundreds of millions in Chinese and Middle East money is being spent on improving infrastructure (e.g. airports).

    Does anyone believe that foreign investors, banks, and governments would be pouring hundreds of millions of dollars on islands they believed were about to sink? Why would the Maldivian government dramatically water down its own carbon targets if it believed this truly was so pressing? It seems the Maldivian government concluded that the economic stagnation resulting from cutting carbon emissions (dramatically curtailing energy production/consumption) was a greater threat than rising sea levels. It’s telling when apparently, even one of the most threatened nations on Earth believes this…

    REPLY
  • Avatar
    Dennis B Williams
    11/10/2019, 6:59 am

    Oh dear, this opinion piece is total rubbish. Where is the empirical proof that the oceans have risen around the Maldives? Why are the Saudis investing a billion dollars in the Maldives. Why was there 8 new hotels open there in 2018? Why are Tuvalu and Kiribati Islands growing not sinking??

    REPLY

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