In less than a decade, climate change-induced sea level rise could force thousands of people to migrate from some small island developing states (SIDS), according to the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.
The world’s 52 small island developing states (SIDS) increasingly share sea level rise and other escalating environmental threats that are further aggravated by economic insecurities, Achim Steiner added.
“What makes this situation even more grievous is that the climate change threats facing many SIDS are by-and-large not of their own making,” Steiner wrote in The Guardian. “Their total combined annual carbon dioxide output, although rising, accounts for less than 1% of global emissions.”
Mohamed “Anni” Nasheed caught widespread attention when he held a cabinet meeting underneath the sea in the months leading up to the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. He continued to captivate negotiators, governments, and climate advocates with his frank and outspoken demeanor, sometimes for better or for worse. As the President of the Maldives, one of the lowest lying nations in the world, Nasheed's major objective has been to stop his country from sinking into the rising seas.
A new documentary, The Island President, gives audiences a rare look into the behind-the-scenes political struggles President Nasheed faced in the year leading up to the climate summit. The filmmakers capture Nasheed's monumental task of wrestling major world leaders to agree to reduce their emissions for the sake of saving vulnerable nations from the onslaught of climate change.
Those who attended the summit will quickly remember the frustrating tension felt as the two-weeks rolled further and further into disappointment, eventually leading to Obama's strong-arming on the last day of the conference. However, the film paints the outcome of Copenhagen in a positive light, focusing on the fact that countries came together to talk about the issue of climate change at all, instead of the massive failure that many remember it as.
“No, it was not the dramatic success that some had hoped it would be,” recalled director Jon Shenk, in an interview, “but there was something unprecedented that had happened, which was that this agreement got signed by all the countries stating that there is problem and we need to do something about it. From Nasheed's point of view, it's a start.”
Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who once famously held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to climate change, is installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on his official residence this week.
Donated by Sungevity, an Oakland, California based solar company, the Maldives’ PV system is grid-connected and will generate about 15,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per annum, providing half of the residence’s power needs, according to Sungevity founder Danny Kennedy, whose company donated and designed the installation for the Maldives’ presidential palace. South Korean company LG donated the PV modules, while the three inverters were provided by Germany manufacturer Kaco, and the mounting hardware by Ironridge.
Sungevity estimates the system will save the Maldives $300,000 over its 25-year expected lifespan. The system will go online tomorrow.
Kennedy’s company has made a similar bid to put solar on the U.S. White House for free, and started the Globama petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures. The petition and offer were hand-delivered to President Obama last month by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who traveled to Washington with a group of students from Maine’s Unity College in an attempt to return one of former President Jimmy Carter’s solar panels to the White House roof. They were rebuked at that time, although yesterday the White House did finally announce plans to put solar back on the roof at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the near future.
Maldives President Nasheed says his country could not afford to delay another minute, with climate disruptions already impacting the tiny island nation 200 miles south southwest of the Southern tip of India. Its highest point is only 2.4 meters above sea-level, leaving residents at extreme risk from rising sea levels caused by global climate change.
Copenhagen is home to The Little Mermaid statue, a Danish landmark honoring Hans Christian Andersen’s famous fairy tale character. In Andersen’s tale, the Little Mermaid saves the life of a shipwrecked prince and then risks her voice and tail to win his love. If the prince chooses another bride, she is destined to turn into sea foam and disappear forever.
The Angry Mermaid Award is designed to shine a spotlight on the worst industry lobbyists whose actions have done the most to cripple international action on climate change, a delay which now risks unleashing climate chaos. In this real life story, it won’t be a fictional mermaid who disappears beneath the sea forever - it will be low-lying island nations like the Maldives.
Lobbyists for polluting industries have worked tirelessly to block effective action, while also seeking every possible way for their corporate clients to benefit from any agreement the nations of the world manage to reach eventually.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.