Endangered island nations call for global action on climate change

On Wednesday, recently-ousted Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed appeared on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” to promote his film, “The Island President,” and to send an important message to Americans.

“If carbon emissions were to stop today, the planet would not see a difference for 60 to 70 years,” Nasheed said. “If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be underwater in seven years.”

Nasheed is an outspoken advocate in combating global warming and was the first democratically-elected president of Maldives. On the Late Show, Nasheed told Letterman that because his nation, located in the Indian Ocean, is a mere six and a half feet above sea level, speculative talks are underway to move the residents out of harm’s way.”

“The science is very sorted. If we are unable to do something during the next seven years, we will be in serious trouble,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed’s appearance on the late night show came on the heels of the BBC’s report that temperatures could rise up to 3 C/5.4 F by 2050.

According to the BBC, a study of 10,000 climate simulations projected the rise in planet temperatures.

The Climateprediction.net study, part of the BBC’s Climate Change Experiment, used a complex atmosphere-ocean model to run simulations. The projected rise in the planet temperature is significantly higher than those from other models.

To reflect uncertainties about the climate system, physical parameters were varied between runs of the model, with the forecast range coming from models “that accurately reproduced observed temperature changes over the last 50 years,” the BBC said.

The University of Oxford’s School of Geography and Environment and Department of Physics Professor and Climateprediction.net’s chief investigator Myles Allen said that the study was needed because other climate modeling studies did not explore the full range of uncertainty.

Other climate researchers weighed in saying the results were very promising.

“Better constrained climate projections are needed to help plan a wide range of adaptation measures, from sea defenses to water storage capacity and biodiversity conservation areas,” said Professor Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

“I have reservations about relying on a model that combines land temperatures — which are clearly rising — with sea temperatures which can be subject to big decadal fluctuations,” said Julian Hunt, emeritus professor of climate modeling at University College London.

According to the BBC, Hunt did agree that the higher end of the temperature predictions looked increasingly likely, though he cited different specific causes. The causes he pointed to specified methane released from the seabed and land, “massive changes” in reflection of light at some places on the Earth’s surface, and reduced air pollution in Asia that will reflect less solar energy back into space.

But what can people do to save the planet?  There are many groups dedicated to bringing people together in this fight to protect the environment.

“This year Earth Hour has launched ‘I Will If You Will’ on YouTube to showcase how everyone has the power to change the world we live in, bringing together the world’s biggest social video platform with the ‘world’s largest action for the environment,’” said  World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour on its website.  “The task is simple, head to YouTube to tell us what you are willing to do to save the planet or accept one of the challenges we’ve already received from our supporters.”

In other climate change initiatives, the Telegraph recently reported that Anote Tong, President of the Republic of Kiribati, was in negotiations to buy land in Fiji for Kiribati’s 113,000 inhabitants. Kiribati — located in the South Pacific — is also expected to soon be submerged in water as a result of climate change.

“We don’t want 100,000 people from Kiribati coming to Fiji in one go,” he told the state-run Fiji One television channel.

“They need to find employment, not as refugees but as immigrant people with skills to offer, people who have a place in the community, people who will not be seen as second-class citizens.

“What we need is the international community to come up with an urgent funding package to deal with that ambition, and the needs of countries like Kiribati,” said Tong.

Mohammad Nasheed concluded his appearance on Letterman with a cautionary remark to Americans.

“What happens to the Maldives today is going to happen to everyone else tomorrow,” he said. “Manhattan is an island and I don’t think that island is much different.”

“I’m afraid the American people are not telling their leaders enough on what to do with climate change,” Nasheed added.