Environment

'Our fate tomorrow,' Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has repeatedly warned the world, 'will be your fate the day after.' Hardly bestriding the international stage like a Colossus, the diminutive Maldivian leader has nevertheless done much to promote awareness of global warming and rising sea levels, the net results of which are likely to submerge this low-lying island nation almost completely by the end of the century. Kofi Annan has called him 'the godfather of environmental awareness' and the country's record at speaking up about and bringing attention to the grave realities of global warming make it one of the most ecologically aware in the world.

Along with Tuvalu, Bangladesh and parts of Holland, the Maldives has the misfortune to be one of the lowest lying countries in the world at a time in history when sea levels are rising. Its highest natural point - 2m - is the lowest in any country in the world. Realising that the political will to do anything about the upcoming disaster is extremely weak throughout both the developed and developing worlds, the Maldives are at least making a contingency plan by constructing an island near to Male' that's 2m above sea level, and will eventually be home to some 150,000 people, or about a half of the country's population. Several thousand people have already moved there in the first phase of development, and it's a compelling, if rather bleak look at the country's future to spend a few hours wandering around on a trip from Male'.

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