You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

Maldives Prepares To Abandon Ship

While the leaders of low-lying Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations have long warned that their citizens would be the first to bear the full brunt of the rising sea-levels that come with a warming planet, the new president-elect of Maldives is among the first to actually start preparing for the apocalypse: According to a report in The New York Times yesterday, Mr. Mohamed Nasheed plans to open a sovereign wealth fund to buy up higher-elevation land in India and Sri Lanka (and possibly even in Australia) where Maldivian citizens can be moved if and when the atoll-nation, whose highest point is an unnamed 2.4-meter elevation on Wilingili Island, begins to drown into the Indian Ocean.

Apparently, this is a less expensive solution than building sea-walls on all of the nation's 193 populated islands (which would cost an estimated $6 billion), and looks more feasible than bringing larger polluting nations to court, as Tuvalu—another island nation threatened with watery extinction—attempted to do against Australia in 2002. One twist: The funds that would be used to buy these extra-territorial safe havens come from tourism revenues—an industry dependent on long-haul commercial flights that are one major contributors to rising temperatures and sea-levels in the first place.

--James Martin