When Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives held a cabinet meeting underwater in full scuba gear — hoping to cast a spotlight on the island country’s plight in the face of global warming — many dismissed it as a publicity stunt. But as the 90-minute documentary The Island President shows, Nasheed, who was forced to step down as president in February 2012, was on a mission to save his beloved, low-lying country. The archipelago’s highest point rises less than 8 feet above sea level, and more than 80 percent of the country is less than 4 feet above the ocean, making it extraordinarily vulnerable to rising sea-level threats. A 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that sea levels could rise 23 inches by the year 2100, inundating many of the Maldives’ 200 inhabited islands.
The film chronicles Nasheed’s first year in office and his trip to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit, where he tried to negotiate a deal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. “If we do not act now, my island nation will be submerged by the sea,” Nasheed says in the film. “We want to survive.”
The Island President is now available from iTunes.
➜ To contribute: theislandpresident.com/save-the-maldives
At A Glance: The Maldives
+ The Maldives is a chain of nearly 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, clustered in 26 major coral atolls.
+ On average, the islands are 4 feet, 11 inches above sea level, making it one of the world’s flattest
countries; some scientists say the country could be underwater by 2050 due to global warming.
+ Six islands in the Maldives were destroyed by the 2004 Indonesian-Indian Ocean tsunami.
+ Tourism is the country’s largest industry.