350 eARTh Maldives – ECOCARE Maldives 2010


Summary

On Friday, 26th November 2010; ECOCARE Maldives, planed and organized the 350 eARTh Maldives event where over 120 School students, locals and spectators will form a giant ‘Fahtarubai’; traditional necklace; off the island of Thulusdhoo as a symbol of the culture they wish to preserve amidst fears that the chain of island they call home could fully submerge under the rising seas.

However, due to harsh weather conditions and heavy rains the project did not go according to the plan. Even so ECOCARE managed to conduct an awareness gathering with the school students of Thulusdhoo Island, and made a smaller version of the “fahtarubai”. ECOCARE believes this project was a success since Climate Chang awareness and message was delivered to the students of this school, also students were able to understand how important a number “350” really is.

Project Introduction

Maldives in among those small Island states that are very vulnerable to Climate Change and rising sea levels. 26 Geographical Atolls with over 1190 Islands, Maldives is situated in the Indian Ocean, at the heart of the Equator. These islands famous for its tourism are indeed in peril. Vulnerable to the huge waves, the low lying state is barely above mean sea level facing threatening consequences for its very existence. The average elevation of the country is just 1.5 meters above sea level, and no natural ground in the country exceeds 2.3 meters above sea level.

Small island nations like the Maldives are least responsible for – yet bare the greatest burden – of climate change. Not only does sea level rise threaten to literally obliterate entire countries, but warming temperatures and ocean acidification threaten to dismantle and dissolve the coral reefs. These reefs serve as a food source for the inhabitants of these small islands as well, while also protecting snowlines and providing amounts of GDP from the tourism industry.

On Friday, 26th November 2010 ; ECOCARE Maldives, (an independent non-profit-making non-governmental organization based in the Maldives, which works for the protection and sustainable development of the environment) will organize the 350 eARTh Maldives event where over 120 School students, locals and spectators will form a giant ‘Fahtarubai’; traditional necklace; off the island of Thulusdhoo as a symbol of the culture they wish to preserve amidst fears that the chain of island they call home could fully submerge under the rising seas. Projected sea level rise for the coming decades could have devastating impacts on Maldives. So much so that the government has initiated a program setting aside funds for the re-location of the country, should the need arise. No Maldivian would want this to be the final play in the game.


Beyond the necklace formation are the precious Maldivian corals, the Natural beauty of the country that has won hearts around the world, which are also endangered by climate change. Even the slightest variation in the temperature increase of just 1-2 degrees Celsius can cause coral bleaching, often leading to their death. Corals are a basic element of the atoll formation process and a vital component of the diverse marine ecosystem around the islands, which also sustain the fisheries so central to Maldivian culture and economy. Yet coral bleaching is one of the impacts of warming climates already taking its toll. Upwards of 90% of corals in the Maldives were bleached in 1998. After the gradual recovery over the last decade, this year saw another significant stretch of bleaching before monsoon rains cooled the waters to more normal temperatures.

“Fahtarubai”

Ibn Battuta, the famous voyager who settled in Maldives for sometime during the 1350s wrote in his journal that Maldivian royal ladies (those who lived within the palace) use to wear this ‘Fahtarubai’ as a symbol of royalty while French voyager Piraad who also stayed in the Maldives but during 1580s describes that the middle class Maldivian lady use to wear this ‘Fahtarubai’ which was made (probably) from gold coins brought from different parts of the Arab region, as jewelry and as ornaments.

‘Fahtarubai’ is basically a traditional Maldivian necklace consisting of gold coins and gold chains, commonly used to accessorize the traditional Maldivian women dress locally known as the ‘Libaas’.

350 eARTh Maldives ‘big picture’ will be a ‘Fahtarubai’ which can be viewed aerially in the Beach of Thulusdhoo Island, to represent one of the country’s oldest traditional wear. Maldives has been described as a beautiful necklace. The traditional ‘Fahtarubai’ that symbolizes the unity among the islands and the islanders who stand together in the battle against climate change! 350 is the most important number in the world—it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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References;
• Will Bates (350.org)
• “The Maldives and Rising Sea Levels” – http://www1.american.edu/ted/ice/maldives.htm
• “Maldive Islanders to Save for a New Home” – http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/maldive-islanders-to-save-for-a-new-home/
• “The last days of paradise” – http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/11/climatechange-endangered-habitats-maldives
• Section 6.4.1.5. “Coral reefs.” IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Pg 330: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg2.htm
• “Beach Erosion a vulnerable scenario in Maldives” – http://maeedsblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/beach-erosion-vulnerable-scenario-in.html
• “Thaareehah taka Dhivehi hedhun” – Ismail Waheed
• Ocean Fact Sheet for EARTH, a program of 350.org: Prepared by Marah Hardt, OceanInk