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Maldives: Jamming to save the islands from submerging

In Greek mythology singing of the Sirens were so sweet and melodic that sailors were lured into the sea and met fateful deaths. On July 07, or the date known better as 07.07.07, music and melodies were used by Maldivians as they pondered about the fate that sea level rise and climate change would bring to them.

As a very low lying island nation the Maldives is among the most vulnerable countries if global warming causes the sea level to rise up to the levels being forecast by world scientists.

Jamming for the Islands, a music show organized as a Friends of Live Earth event, aimed to create awareness among the people on various issues related to climate change. The show also showed solidarity with other people across the globe who organized Live Earth events.

The Maldives was hit hard by the tsunami of December 2004 and there are Internally Displaced Persons still living in camps. The tsunami was an early warning of how things could turn if Maldivians have to become environmental refugees.

There were mixed reactions from bloggers on the music show held in a location less than a hundred meters from the sea, and on the Live Earth concerts held across the globe.

A blogger expressed his desire to visit all venues where Live Earth shows were held.

I wanna be at the Wembley Stadium to see RHCP, the Foo Fighters, Metallica, Damien Rice and Duran Duran.. I wanna be in New Jersey to see Roger Waters, The Smashing Pumpkins and DMB.. I wanna be in Sydney to see Wolfmother and Jack Johnson.. I wanna see Lenny Kravitz in Rio de Janeiro.. I wanna be in Hamburg to see Chris Cornell and Katie Melua.. I'll take a pass on Tokyo and Shanghai.. And Johannesburg too..

I also want a Gulfstream 400..

but…

well, hopefully they'll have a DVD out..

Maldives Today says the show was not effective in delivering ‘key environmental messages’ to the public. The blog also criticizes the government for failing to address environmental issues at home.

Almost all inhabited islands in the Maldives are facing the problem of contaminated groundwater because untreated sewage seeps into the aquifer. Only few islands such as the capital Male’ has a sewerage system in place. The population is also unable to solve the problem of garbage accumulation. Undesirable methods of garbage disposal such as burning and throwing them on beaches create further environmental problems. Increased consumerism means the people of the Maldives produce more garbage, most of which is non-biodegradable. Reefs in the country are under threat from marine pollution while certain marine species are on the verge of depletion because of overexploitation. The mangrove ecosystems in the Maldives are under threat while beaches in the Maldives are eroding due to human-made modifications to the coastline.

While the Maldives needs the support and cooperation of the international community to address the problems caused by global phenomena, several people in the country are dismayed by the lack of commitment by the government to address local environmental issues. The government is keen to highlight the vulnerable position of the Maldives in international conferences and IPCC meetings but when it comes to solving the environmental problems in its own backyard, it remains tightlipped.

The blog Idhikeeli also raises questions about the inefficiency of the government in dealing with domestic environmental issues.

None of the political parties in the Maldives seems to be concerned much about the deteriorating environmental conditions in the country. Islands are being reclaimed and harbours are being dredged without proper Environmental Impact Assessments. The greed of the corporate sector takes dominance over environment as resorts expand their land to build more rooms, altering the natural island dynamics. Poor islanders are left with no choice but mine sand from beaches for construction because river sand and aggregate are too expensive for them. The lack of a good transportation network pushes up the price of any material taken to the islands. Our islands are faced with threat of tidal waves and flooding. To what extent do our parliamentarians raise these issues in the parliament? Shouldn't the government reduce import duties from river sand? Shouldn't the government set up warehouse facilities in islands for river sand? Or should the government just turn a blind eye to sand mining from beaches and blame all beach erosion on global warming and sea level rise? Why did the fine imposed for destroying Vilivaru island reduced so drastically? Who does what at the environment ministry?

It is not just enough to jam for the islands and think that the music show will solve everything.

1 comment

  • anonymous

    but what are we to do help the displaced people

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