Island Paradise Seeks New Home

Low-lying islands divert tourist funds to buy land

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 10, 2008 11:02 AM CST

(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.

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 promised to ensure a smooth transition from his three decade rule after Nasheed vanquished him in the Maldives' first democratic election.
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)
Supporters cheer as Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, unseen, arrives to speak at a thanks giving ceremony in Male, Maldives, late Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. Gayoom promised to ensure a smooth transition from his three decade rule after a bitter political rival vanquished him in the Maldives' first democratic election.
Supporters cheer as Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, unseen, arrives to speak at a thanks giving ceremony in Male, Maldives, late Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. Gayoom promised to ensure a smooth transition...   (AP Photo/Sinan Hussain)
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