Island Nation on the Brink of Disaster
The Maldives are the most beautiful and remote island chains that almost look like tear drops embellishing Indian Ocean, north of the Equator. The constant threat & possibilities of Maldives atolls being swamped by rising sea levels would really bring tear drops for the nation’s 400,000 people. The Maldivians face the threat of being forced to evacuate their homeland. The Island nation’s highest point of land is poised two and a half meters above the beach, which may be reduced to a network of reefs within next century.
Maldives is highly dependent on its US $2.5 billion tourism sector, while the native population (almost 70 percent) is involved in fishing. However, the intense storms, abrupt weather shifts and change in fish migration patterns couple with dangerous rise in sea level has immensely affected the nation’s fisheries sector. Ecologists and Environmentalists states that Maldives’ less sustainable form of tourism isn’t helping to address the fate it faces. To maintain the luxurious tourist lifestyle, the island nation is said to have been managing 330 tons of waste daily.
The waste management is being done by turning out an atoll called ‘Thilafushi’ into a dumping island. The irony is that those scavenging in this island to burn the rubbishes are also foreigners – mainly Bangladesh immigrants. The Maldives government was absolutely right when it says that the ‘small states are not in position to change the course of events regarding climate change from CO2 emitter’s point of view’. But, this exploitation of land & workers to maintain an opulent lifestyle isn’t also helping the nation much. At least, Maldives’ former President Mr. Mohamed Nasheed made efforts to involve world leaders for fighting against climate change.
In 2009, he drew world’s attention by holding an under-water cabinet meeting to depict the plight of the Maldives’ future. He made the entire country to commit to carbon neutrality by 2020. The children of the nation were vastly educated about environmental science. But, later a coup and tortures had beaten down Nasheed’s desperate battle against Global Warming. Nasheed (called as ‘Mandela of the Maldives) was forced to resign on February 7, 2012 as coup by forces loyal to former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom threw out democracy. The current President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom is the half-brother of former dictator and now the regime is accused of increasing Islamist militancy.
The new regime’s high hopes to increase its profits on tourism sector have made it to develop new luxury resorts on remotest of the islands. Few months back, the country also opened another airport, which brings the total to 11 – four international and seven domestic – which is quite a lot. May be the regime is thinking about surging the tourism revenue to help the climate cause or it is building large number of airports to do a fast evacuation when the ocean submerges the island.
Climate change, of course, is a very complicated issue, which can’t be restrained by just creating awareness. However, awareness is the only way to kindle a fight that might terminate the corrupted bureaucratic mindset, which is only delirious about money or economy. The events in Maldives must be regarded with vitality because the island nation is a microcosm of the environmental disasters waiting to infest the modern world’s population.