Holidays To The Maldives Are Under Threat From The Sea
The group of islands that form the Maldives number roughly 1200 and cover a region of about 800 kilometers in length in the Indian Ocean. They are renowned the world over for their outstanding natural beauty. Because most of them are only a couple of meters above sea level however, they are at great risk from sea level rise.
Even a small increase in sea levels, eg. half a metre would relinquish many of the islands back to the Indian Ocean, and make pretty much all of them virtually uninhabitable. Maldives islands such Bandos island, Baros island, Filitheyo island and Kuredu island which are popular destinations for thousands of visitors each years may be lost to the sea within a matter of decades.
Sea-level change isnt the only threat to these islands however, they are also under a real threat from an increase in sea temperatures. Increases in ocean water temperature can destroy coral reefs which are sensitive to change, and these play a large part in protecting islands such as the Maldives from waves.
Whilst global warming has tended to be a point of conjecture among environmentalists, the unprecedented event of the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice in 2007 has caused many environmentalists to agree that warming is not only inevitable, but is happening more rapidly than was originally suspected.
James Hansen, a leading climatologist, published a research paper in 2008 which demonstrated that the safe atmospheric limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 350 parts per million, anything higher bringing about a negative envrionmental impacts. The level of CO2 is already at a concentration of 390 ppm and rising.
It isnt only the Maldives who are rightfully on the verge of panic, countries like Bangladesh are already suffering saltwater flooding as sea levels rise and engulf low-lying land; Australia is experiencing severe droughts year after year as its climate changes, and forests across western North America and suffering from to pest insects that are multiplying in the warmer climate.
Since it has become clear that globe is already suffering the effects of warming is probably the main reason why no one is overly content with the recent pledge of the G8 nations to take measures to try and restrict temperature increase to only 2 degrees and atmospheric concentration of Carbon Dioxide to 450 parts per million – a figure that many feel is too high. A few years ago, those might have been realistic goals, but our current evidence suggests they are out of date.
Later this month, over 100 world leaders will meet at New York for the United Nations Climate Change Summit. On 24th October 2009, the Maldives will hold the largest underwater political demonstration in history with snorkelers and divers taking banners down to the coral reefs as a reminder to everyone of what is at stake. We cannot be really how long it will be but it seems inevitable that holidays to the Maldives may be over in the future.