Island Paradise Seeks New Home

Low-lying islands divert tourist funds to buy land
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 10, 2008 11:02 AM CST
Maldives President-elect Mohamed Nasheed, center, shakes hands with his supporters in a ceremony to celebrate his victory in Male, Maldives, late Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom...   (AP Photo/Ali Nishan)
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(Newser) – Under serious threat from rising sea levels, the government of the Maldives is saving funds from the islands' biggest industry—tourism—to finance the purchase of a new national home, the Guardian reports. Much of the country, near India, rises less than 5 feet above the water, and the UN predicts that global warming will raise sea level by up to nearly 2 feet by 2100.

“We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere,” says the country’s new president, who has discussed the plan with “receptive” countries. "It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome." With their similar cultures, Sri Lanka or India could make a new home for the 300,000 islanders. The threat of a lost homeland is “an unprecedented wake-up call,” says an environmentalist.
(Read more Maldives stories.)