Saturday, September 29, 2007

Could Paradise Be Lost?

It's the honeymoon destination of choice for thousands of people every year, writes Sky News Environment Correspondent Robert Nisbet.

But the 1200 palm-fringed islands which make up the Maldives could become a paradise lost if the direst predictions of the United Nations' panel of climatologists are realised.

In The Maldives, the Christmas period usually ushers in dry, hot weather and thousands of tourists, chasing the sun.

But when we arrived, the capital Male was awash with torrential rain.

We spoke to fishermen on the waterfront who told us the weather had become increasingly unpredictable, which fed into a wider concern about the consequences of climate change on the low lying coral atolls, where the 360,000 inhabitants are dotted.

Their fears were echoed by the scientists who make up the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In a report in 2001 they projected that global warming could prompt sea levels around the world to rise by between 3.5 and 35 inches by 2100.

"If the higher end of the scale is reached, the sea could overflow the heavily populated coastlines of such countries as Bangladesh (and) cause the disappearance of some nations entirely such as the island state of the Maldives," they suggested.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has also put his concerns in writing, in the preface to a new book called Global Warning.

He said: "The Maldives is one of the lowest lying nations of the world. [Read More on Sky News]

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