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Climate-threatened Maldives go underwater … politically

MaldivesThe Maldives, an nation of islands and atolls that stretches across the Indian Ocean, is also the lowest-lying country in the world with an average elevation of just 1.5 metres above sea level. That means its people are taking the threat of climate change and rising sea levels personally.

So on Oct. 24 — scheduled as a global day of action by the 350.org campaign against climate change — Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet will don scuba gear and hold an underwater meeting to call the world’s attention to the threat. The officials plan to vote on a statement to be sent on behalf of the Maldives’ citizens to international negotiators meeting in Copenhagen this December to hammer out a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

On the same day, residents of the Maldives will also head underwater for what Nasheed calls “largest underwater political demonstration in history — divers and snorkelers down on the reef with banners and signs, reminding people what’s at stake.”

“(N)o one in the Maldives is applauding the recent pledge of the G-8 nations to try and hold temperature increases to 2 degrees and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 to 450 parts per million,” Nasheed writes on the 350.org website. “A few years ago, those might have been laudable goals, but new science makes clear they’re out of date.”

The 350.org campaign, founded by environmentalist Bill McKibben, is rallying for an international effort to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations back down to 350 parts per million, a level that’s believed to be low enough to stave off catastrophic climate change. As of earlier this year, carbon dioxide levels had reached 387 parts per million, compared to 280 parts per million before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

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