Will the Maldives Become the New Atlantis?
By B. McPherson
How would you feel if your country were to sink beneath the waves like a modern day Atlantis? Would you simply despair and sink into apathy or would you bravely seek out new land to settle in? In today’s modern world what already settled land would let you in?
The president of the Maldive Islands has some harsh words for the developed nations. Mr. Mohamed Nasheed has told the Sidney MorningHerald in Australia:
''But I think it's really quite necessary for Australians and for every rich country to understand that this is unlike any other thing that's happened before.'' Pres. Mohamed Nasheed
He has warned that the residents of the Maldive Islands which are low lying atolls in the Indian Ocean will be forced to move as the sea levels continue to rise. Already, 14 islands have been abandoned to the rising waters. His small country has established a fund to allow the population to buy land and move en masse to a target country. He named Australia, India and Sri Lanka as possible destinations for the 350 000 people living in danger of inundation.
Pacific Island nations are also facing the drowning of their countries. The tiny country of Tuvalu has requested resettlement aid for its population. At times of the year, tides called King Tides sweep over the atoll nation, flooding houses and fouling fresh water sources.
Wealthy countries are facing major infrastructure costs as the ocean levels creep up. The melting of the Arctic, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contribute to the ocean volumes, but also the warming waters expand and take up more room than cold. Another little recognized factor in ocean levels increasing is the massive amounts of fresh water mined from ancient aquifers that industrialized nations use and discharge into the coastal waters.
It is generally accepted that the industrial activities of the past few hundred years have contributed to a continuing rise in greenhouse gases. While climate fluctuations are normal, the added carbon dioxide produced when fossil fuels are burned seems to be accelerating climate warming.
If ocean levels continue to rise, and it seems likely, many more people will be forced to leave their homes and seek refuge with those who have higher ground. How the developed nations deal with the millions of displaced people will be a measure of their humanity.