This Saturday, the president of Maldives “is set to chair an underwater Cabinet meeting” in order to “highlight the threat global warming and rising sea levels pose to his low-lying nation.” The governments of the world are now negotiating a successor to the global-warming reduction treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and his 14-member cabinet “will don scuba gear and descend to a table 20 feet (6 meters) underwater”:
To prepare, the ministers have been learning the basics of scuba diving on the weekends. Nasheed already is a certified diver. At the meeting, Cabinet members will communicate using hand gestures. The president will ratify a pledge calling on other countries to slash greenhouse emissions ahead of a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.
The Maldives, a nation of 1,200 coral islands southwest of India, “lies just 4.9 feet (1.5 meters) above sea level.” Sea levels have already risen by 0.2 meters (8 inches) in the past century due to thermal expansion and ice melt caused by global warming. In 2008, scientists warned that the best estimate for sea level rise by 2100 “lies between 0.8 and 2.0 meters” (2.5 to 6.6 feet).