MNN Galleries

14 islands threatened by climate change

By: Katherine Butler on Jan. 10, 2018, 11:44 a.m.
The One & Only Resort Reethi Rah, Maldives

Photo: Sarah_Ackerman/flickr

3 of 16

Republic of Maldives

The Maldives are a picturesque chain comprising more than 1,100 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean. However, this paradise may soon be lost to rising sea levels. The highest parts of the Maldives rise to no more than 8 feet. This leaves nearly 400,000 residents at great risk of storm surges and rising seas. The island received considerable damage in the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which decimated fresh water supplies and damaged homes. Further, extreme mining of the protective sand and coral around the islands has made them even more vulnerable to rising waters. In 2009, then-President Mohamed Nasheed emerged during the Copenhagen Summit as the face of this issue on a planetary scale. As Salon noted, "if his country cannot be saved from rising sea levels, then there may be no saving Tokyo or Mumbai or New Orleans or New York."

The current administration in the Maldives, headed by President Abdulla Yameen, has followed in the footsteps of Kiribati by turning to domestic efforts to keep the country from being swallowed by the ocean. Geoengineering projects are underway, including building new islands.