The UN predicts that by 2100, climate change could cause sea levels to rise by as much as 59 centimeters. For the Maldives, an island nation whose highest point sits roughly two meters above sea level, such a drastic change would put most of the country underwater. Fearing a Waterworld scenario, the new Maldivian president has announced that the Maldives is in the market for a new country so the entire population can someday relocate to higher ground.Human rights activist Mohamed Nasheed was sworn in this week as president of the Republic of Maldives, a collection of atolls off the coast of India. Nasheed announced a new tourism initiative to bring visitors to the islands, saying that the government will set aside a portion of the proceeds toward the purchase of a possible backup homeland:
"We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome. After all, the Israelis [began by buying] land in Palestine," said Nasheed, also known as Anni.
It may sound like an outrageous doomsday scenario, but most of the Maldives is a mere 1.5 meters above sea level, and the highest point, on the island of Villingili, is 2.4 meters above sea level. Ensuring that its citizenry has a place to call home in the next hundred years might be its most prudent option:
Environmentalists say the issue raises the question of what rights citizens have if their homeland no longer exists. "It's an unprecedented wake-up call," said Tom Picken, head of international climate change at Friends of the Earth. "The Maldives is left to fend for itself. It is a victim of climate change caused by rich countries."