How the Maldives are Addressing the Rising Seas
The Maldives sit at the frontline of the climate crisis, with rising sea levels threatening to submerge the country. "Outsiders may know the islands for two things: beach holidays and the likelihood the Maldives may become the first country on Earth to disappear beneath rising seas," said Tristan Mcconnell from the National Geographic. The country is an archipelago, made up of 115 square miles, across all of the islands. The majority of the islands sit only 3.5 feet above sea level.
"The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees (Celsius) is a death sentence for the Maldives," stated Aminath Shauna, the Maldives' Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology at COP26.
Sky News: Time is running out for the Maldives, November 1, 2021.
Why this Matters
Most of the islands within the Maldives are predicted to be flooded or submerged by the end of the century. This will lead to the loss of housing, community, natural habitats, and an entire culture. While the man-made island rescue platform Hulhumalé, sitting at 6.5 feet above sea level (3 feet higher than most of the islands), is an architectural achievement, the fact people are forced to move there has lessened its sense of community.
Sea level rise will affect many parts of the world and is one of the most devastating consequences of increased emissions levels. The Maldives, Guna Yala, Tuvalu, and a number of lower-income countries located in or along the ocean are disproportionately affected by carbon emissions produced by richer countries.
AP: Maldives - Failure to limit warming a death sentence, October 24, 2021.
The City of Hope
As a current solution, The Maldives are placing hope in environmental construction -- specifically the creation of artificial islands that could provide housing for more of the population. Hulhumalé -- the city of hope -- is one of these islands, containing parks, housing, mosques, and shops. The city was created by building artificial lagoons within the ocean and piling them high with millions of tons of sand. Still, man-made cities are only created and occupied out of pure necessity. Aisah Moosa, a resident of a new Hulhumalé apartment building says, "We are living in these towers because we don’t have a choice," Moosa said. "We would love to live in the islands, but there's no education, no hospitals."
WW0 COP26 Talks: Surangel Whipps, President of the Republic of Palau, November 3, 2021.
The Guardian: One of the greatest injustices': Pacific islands on the frontline of the climate crisis, Oct 25, 2021.