- Text by Jamie Brisick
I googled ‘Climate change and the Maldives’. There was plenty to read, but the most interesting piece was this one, on climatehotmap.org —
After looking closely at the volume of water that could come from glacial and ice sheet melt by the year 2100, scientists estimate that sea level could rise 2.6 feet (80 centimetres) — and that as much as 6.6 feet (2 meters) is possible, depending on the pace at which heat-trapping emissions are released.
Given mid–level scenarios for those emissions, the Maldives is projected to experience sea–level rise on the order of 1.5 feet (50 centimeters) by around 2100. The country would lose 77 percent of its land area by the end of the century. If sea level were to rise by 3.3 feet (1 meter) and the Maldives did not pursue further coastal protection measures, it would be nearly completely inundated by about 2085.
The Maldivian Ministry of Home Affairs, Housing and Environment has identified potential measures to help the country adapt to rising seas. These include protecting groundwater and increasing rainwater harvesting, as well as increasing the elevation of critical infrastructure.
Migration is also a potential solution for Maldivians. In November 2008, the president announced the country’s interest in buying a new homeland, though this approach would come at a high price, both financially and culturally.
On my final day in the Maldives I went to the bar at sunset and ordered a wasabi martini. It had serious kick, in both the nose-burning and vodka departments. I looked out over the azure infinity pool, the turquoise reef, the blinding band of white water, and the sapphire and cobalt blues that stretched to the horizon line. The Brazilians have an expression: ‘Tudo azul’ (everything blue), which loosely translates to, ‘All good.’ Tudo azul takes on new meaning here in the Maldives. Everywhere you look there is euphoria-inducing blue. It comes in hundreds of different shades. It has a way of washing away anxiety.
For dinner I ate a scrumptious Indian meal of malabar jhinga, biryani lamb, paneer lababdar, and foie gras naan (naan stuffed with foie gras) accompanied by a couple glasses of really good red wine. I sat on the torch-lit deck overlooking the now inky-black sea. I got to thinking about the Maldives, the notion that they’re not far away from being underwater. Earlier in the night I’d been looking at my GoPro footage, in particular the clip where I fail to properly mount my camera, the lip swats if off, and down it goes, a metre or two beneath the sea. Glowing in my mildly drunken state, I made one of those connections that feel revelatory at the time but later far-fetched and heavy-handed, as if trying to bully the truth. I got onto the idea that my GoPro mishap was a kind of metaphor/allegory for climate change: mankind moves flippantly, irresponsibly, and in comes the ocean to show ‘em who’s boss. A long shot, I know, but a clean segue to this shortened version of the clip.