Climate change: Maldives seek new homeland

Issue 

According to a November 11 article in the British Guardian, the Maldives government is investigating the possibility of purchasing land in order to move its citizens to escape the disappearance of the Indian Ocean archipelago due to climate change.

The Guardian reported that the Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed had explained that his government "will begin to divert a portion of the country's billion-dollar annual tourist revenue into buying a new homeland ... as an insurance policy against climate change that threatens to turn the 300,000 islanders into environmental refugees".

The article stated that "the chain of 1200 islands and coral atolls dotted 800 kilometres from the tip of India is likely to disappear under the waves if the current pace of climate change continues to raise sea levels".

Most parts of the Maldives are only 1.5 metres above water, and Nasheed pointed out that a "small rise" in water levels — with the United Nations predicting a 59 centimetre rise by 2100 due to global warming — would inundate a large part the nation.

According to the Guardian, India or Sri Lanka were being considered for a new homeland due to similarities in culture and cuisine, while Australia was being looked at due to its large amount of unoccupied land.

Nasheed argued: "We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere ... We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades."

A Friends of the Earth International spokesperson, Tom Picken, told the Guardian that the Maldives' plan was "an unprecedented wake-up call".

"The Maldives is left to fend for itself. It is a victim of climate change caused by rich countries."

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