The sea level is rising significantly in the Maldive Islands

The sea is rising. How will the low-lying Maldives Islands will survive?

Unable so far to persuade nations to slow carbon emissions (which are increasing world temperatures and ocean levels), the travel-friendly Maldives is working on a drastic Plan B. It is creating an artificial island, set three feet higher than many of its other islands, with vertical housing for half of its people.

That’s not all. The island nation is also planning 5,000 homes floating on pontoons, able to rise with the waters. There’s not much time, so these audacious ideas are being watched by other nations beset by climate change, Tristan McConnell writes. (Pictured above, a couple navigating around a home abandoned when the sea eroded its foundations.)

The new island and the high-rises may help the nation buy time, but it is a hard transition for people who are moving in from the threatened islands. It will exacerbate issues of livelihoods, culture, and even waste management. Some residents are unsettled by living at such a high altitude (pictured above, a neighborhood of 16 high-rises on the artificial island.)

Supporters of this Plan B say it’s better than an idea floated a decade ago: Move the entire populace of 550,000 to Australia.

Yet, as McConnell writes, this new island “also carries a warning worth heeding as climate change wreaks increasing havoc on every continent: We may lose who we are even before we lose where we are.”

Pictured above, a marine biologist works a coral nursery off the Maldives. Corals, as well as people, are under strain as the oceans warm.


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