When the topic of climate change comes up, some specific countries are mentioned. Island nations like Tuvalu, Micronesia, Polynesia and Maldives are among them. I am writing to give my perspective on how climate change is affecting and will continue to affect my country, the Maldives.
The Maldives is a small archipelago of islands, in the Indian Ocean and right on the equator. We’re famous for our beautiful nature and tourism industry. But here are some cold hard facts The Maldives has an average ground-level elevation of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level Due to global warming, the Maldives is projected to experience sea level rise on the order of 1.5 feet (half a meter)—and to lose some 77 percent of its land area—by around the year 2100. If sea level were instead to rise by 3 feet (1 meter), the Maldives could be almost completely inundated by about 2085. The periodic flooding and freshwater shortages are expected to worsen.
Just a few days ago, on the 25th & 26th of November 2015, Addu City, in the southern part of the Maldives, experienced 228.4 mm of rainfall over 24 hrs (a new record); 200 houses were affected by the flooding But one of the biggest challenges of all is apathy. For most Maldivians (especially the older generation), the problems are out of sight and out of mind. Our current government has very little interest in the long-term, therefore I can’t say I’m optimistic about an internal solution or plan.
Please remember that this affects over 400,000 people. This number may seem insignificant but each one of these 400,000 all have hopes, dreams and aspirations to reach for. All of this could be extinguished by a natural occurrence that has been ignored for far too long. No constructive solution has been reached so far. That is why COP21 is vital.
Small countries like mine may not play a big role in the decision-making but that is exactly why the bigger, more developed countries should take the initiative. A great outcome from the conference may result in a wonderful, safe future, especially for the citizens of the island nations. So remind your leaders! What happens in Paris has the potential for a chain reaction, be it positive or negative.
On an individual level, what we can all do is to remind people that this issue, is global. Each and every action counts. So donate your time to NGOs. Recycle whatever you can. There are so many things you could do, with your imagination being the limit. Remember this quote: “Global warming should be seen not as an environmental crisis but as a human rights issue that risks the lives, livelihoods and homes of millions of people” – Mohamed Nasheed, former President of Maldives.
Shaim Mahir – UWC Red Cross Nordic