With its turquoise waters and palm-fringed beaches, the Maldives may look like the epitome of a “paradise” destination, but rising seas are forcing the islands and the tourism industry on which its future depends to find sustainable solutions
Estimates from the United Nations (UN) predict that sea levels will rise by 28cm-58cm by the end of the century (based on 1989-1998 levels) as a result of rising temperatures. Scientists believe the major reason is increasing levels of carbon emissions, largely from the burning of fossil fuels, which are causing the melting of ice sheets, glaciers and ice caps—and thermal expansion as the temperature of the sea itself rises. It warns that: “Larger sea level increases of up to one metre by 2100 cannot be ruled out if ice sheets continue to melt as the temperature rises.”
The effect is likely to be greater on island nations, which are “particularly vulnerable to climate change. Their limited size makes them more prone to natural hazards and external shocks, in particular to rises in sea level and threats to their freshwater resources”, the UN says.
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