A school of fish swims past heat-damaged coral in Maldives. When stressed by temperatures changes, pollution, and other factors, coral will evict the algae that gives them their spectacular colors. This process is called bleaching. Photo: NationalGeographic

The Maldives contributes less than 0.01% of the global Green House Gas emissions; even so the country is one of those that will be affected the most due to the Global Climate Change.

Land loss and Beach erosion; Over 80% of the land area is less than 1 m above mean sea-level. 50% of all inhabited islands and 45% of tourist resorts face varying degrees of beach erosion. Note that even a rise of 1 m of average sea-level will submerge this country.

Infrastructural damage; all infrastructural activities, industries and settlements lie close to the shoreline. Sea-level rise poses a great threat to the existence of these structures. The Male’ International Airport for example which is located in the Hulhule’ Island, has a runway which is only 1.2 m above mean sea-level.

Damage to coral reef; The Maldives is basically surrounded by coral reefs. It not only provides protection to the islands but also is very much a part of the economic activities in the country. These coral reefs attract a lot of divers to come and explore the Maldives while fishing, a major livelihood source for the locals in Maldives is associated with these reefs. Corals are sensitive to changes in sea surface temperatures. Unusual high temperatures in 1998 caused mass coral bleaching in the central regions of the Maldives and it still remains a threat that such unusual temperatures may lead to the bleaching of more corals.

Water resources; Most of the Maldivian population depends on the ground water and rain water as source of fresh water. Both are highly at the risk of Climate Change. As Maldivian Islands are low lying, the rise in sea-levels would force salt water intrusions into fresh water lens.

Human health; It should be noted that although Malaria has been eradicated from the Maldives, with climate change there might be a threat for malaria outbreaks occurring in the country. Other waterborne diseases such as Diarrhea are also feared as some islands have poor sanitation management. IPCC regional climate scenarios estimated that the air temperatures in the region may rise by 2-3.8 degree Celsius. By year 2100, this will lead to heat stresses and poor urban air quality in the future. Also this increases threat of skin cancer.

Maldives is of course a very unique country. We have our own language, called Dhivehi. We have our own script, called Thaana. Our language is spoken and written only in the Maldives by Maldivians. We have our own unique cultures and traditions and we have a very interesting and long history.

If Climate change and sea-level rise cause our islands to be washed off the surface of the world, then it’s not only a country that will die. It’s an entire nation, a language, a culture, a tradition and a history that will be washed off the surface of this planet. It will all be destroyed and lost.

To reduce impacts of global warming and for the Maldives to survive as a nation we need everyone to become united and work for a cleaner solution, a greener and a more sustainable solution. World leaders and politicians need to give into the demands of the earth. Economics and business should not be the first priority when it comes to Mother Nature and planet earth. Earth should come first!

If there is a will there is always a way. We need more world leaders to become committed to the climate cause. We need to reduce the amount of green house gases we produce. We need to limit the amount of energy we consume. We need to learn to reuse, recycle and reduce.

Large economies of the world, those who also have the means and capability to play a major role in reducing the amounts of Green House Gases, should cut down their emission rates. These developed economies need to help countries like Maldives in adaptation measures as well as provide us, the developing countries means and resources for a more sustainable development.

It should be remembered that today it may be the Maldives, Kiribati or some other low lying island state that is in the frontline of climate change and the raising seas. But remember that others are to follow sooner if solid and concrete action is not taken. We need the world to take protective action now.

Every single little act of conservation; every time you switch off an unwanted electric appliance, every time you use a recycled material, every time you walk instead of taking the car, you are contributing as an individual to limit your ‘carbon foot print’ on this planet. By doing so you are helping to keep our very vulnerable earth safe. Play your part and make other more aware. Together stand united to combat this war against climate change.

 

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