Why should I go to the Maldives

Maldives

A president on diving station

The Maldives is the lowest country on earth: its highest point measures just 2.4 meters. The low altitude above sea level is also their biggest problem: If the sea level continues to rise due to global warming, most of the archipelago will be flooded by the year 2100.

This is not only feared by scientists, but also by the former president of the island state, Mohamed Nasheed. He and his ministers went to a diving station in October 2009 and held a climate conference on the ocean floor. With this action, Nasheed succeeded in making the world aware of the threatening situation in the Maldives.

Paradise before doom?

Scientists such as the biologist and coral reef researcher Helmut Schuhmacher confirm that climate change poses a serious threat to the islands. In his opinion, sea levels will rise even faster in the future than they are now.

Due to the climate-related increase in storms and storm surges, the islands are in constant danger of being flooded. In addition, when the sea level rises, the freshwater lenses (underground freshwater deposits) on the islands become too salty. And if the supply of drinking water breaks down, the islands will no longer be habitable.

Importance of the reefs

What the islands could save are their coral reefs. The reefs act as breakwaters and could even grow with only a slight rise in sea level. The devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami was lowest where intact coral reefs and mangrove belts formed a protective wall against the floods.

However, the protective coral reefs are themselves threatened by climate change and, for the most part, have already been severely damaged. Coral bleaching in particular contributed to this. This is a serious coral disease resulting from ocean warming. Because of its widespread occurrence, this disease is considered a global reef threat.

Tourism - Hope or Risk?

Tourism is the island nation's main source of income, but it brings with it many problems: A growing number of holiday flights are increasing environmentally harmful CO2 emissions. The numerous hotel chains produce vast amounts of garbage that have to be disposed of somewhere.

Some hotel operators are restructuring entire islands in order to meet the high demands of tourists. "Landscaping" is the name of the procedure in which tons of sand are shifted across the islands - an enormous interference with the natural balance. And divers who move carelessly in the reefs also put a strain on the islands' sensitive ecosystem.

Rescue in sight?

What could save the Maldives from extinction? First and foremost, global warming should be stopped and CO2 emissions slowed. In order to achieve this, it is primarily the industrialized nations that are in demand.

In connection with this, everything should be done to save the coral reefs. Because only intact reefs are able to protect the Maldives from the floods. And finally, it is precisely these that make up the essence and incomparable beauty of the island kingdom.