Last month, in an effort to draw attention to the likelihood of being submerged by global warming’s rising seas, government ministers of the Maldives—an island nation that sits mere feet above sea level—convened a meeting underwater.
Officials strapped on scuba gear and dove 15 feet to the ocean floor to sign a document that called for sharp reductions in global carbon pollution. Their action speaks to a dire future for Maldivians—who are very much on the front lines of the fight against global warming—and is an urgent call to world leaders preparing for international negotiations at Copenhagen.
Now, the Nepali cabinet is joining the Maldives in their plea for global action. Cabinet members are planning to meet at the Mt. Everest base camp later this month to draw attention to the impact of melting glaciers in the Himalayas. These glaciers fill such major rivers in Asia as the Ganges and the Yangtze, which in turn support most of the continent’s inhabitants.
The prospect of severe flooding and depleted drinking water supplies as the Himalayan glaciers melt brings into focus a troubling future in which global warming creates millions of climate refugees, forced to migrate as their familial homes become uninhabitable. The United States will likely face significant changes in many regions, too, though I don’t expect to see the U.S. Congress convene in the increasingly parched Southwest or the rapidly changing Arctic anytime soon.