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March 31 2012


As The Maldives Slowly Erode Away: A Review Of "The Island President" Documentary

Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed caught widespread attention when he held a cabinet meeting underneath the sea in the months leading up to the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009. He continued to captivate negotiators, governments, and climate advocates with his frank and outspoken demeanor, sometimes for better or for worse. As the President of the Maldives, one of the lowest lying nations in the world, Nasheed's major objective has been to stop his country from sinking into the rising seas.

A new documentary, The Island President, gives audiences a rare look into the behind-the-scenes political struggles President Nasheed faced in the year leading up to the climate summit. The filmmakers capture Nasheed's monumental task of wrestling major world leaders to agree to reduce their emissions for the sake of saving vulnerable nations from the onslaught of climate change.

Those who attended the summit will quickly remember the frustrating tension felt as the two-weeks rolled further and further into disappointment, eventually leading to Obama's strong-arming on the last day of the conference. However, the film paints the outcome of Copenhagen in a positive light, focusing on the fact that countries came together to talk about the issue of climate change at all, instead of the massive failure that many remember it as.

"No, it was not the dramatic success that some had hoped it would be," recalled director Jon Shenk, in an interview, "but there was something unprecedented that had happened, which was that this agreement got signed by all the countries stating that there is problem and we need to do something about it. From Nasheed's point of view, it's a start."

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March 28 2012


On Our Radar: The Maldives Movie

In a sense, "The Island President" is the biggest media event that the deposed leader of the Maldives could have hoped for. But the attention he needs has more to do with his country's political turmoil then the film's theme, climate change.
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May 03 2011


Putting a Price on Sharks

In Palau, the Maldives, the Bahamas and some other scuba-diving destinations, tourism operators have gotten across the message to governments that there are economically rational reasons to protect the fish.

October 07 2010


Maldives Leader Gets a Solar Roof

"We don't have the luxury of time to sit and wait for the rest of the world to act," the leader says.

October 06 2010


Maldives President Nasheed Installs Solar on Official Residence, Knocks Ignorance of Climate Deniers

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, who once famously held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to climate change, is installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on his official residence this week.

Donated by Sungevity, an Oakland, California based solar company, the Maldives’ PV system is grid-connected and will generate about 15,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per annum, providing half of the residence's power needs, according to Sungevity founder Danny Kennedy, whose company donated and designed the installation for the Maldives’ presidential palace. South Korean company LG donated the PV modules, while the three inverters were provided by Germany manufacturer Kaco, and the mounting hardware by Ironridge

Sungevity estimates the system will save the Maldives $300,000 over its 25-year expected lifespan.  The system will go online tomorrow.

Kennedy’s company has made a similar bid to put solar on the U.S. White House for free, and started the Globama petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures.  The petition and offer were hand-delivered to President Obama last month by 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who traveled to Washington with a group of students from Maine's Unity College in an attempt to return one of former President Jimmy Carter’s solar panels to the White House roof.  They were rebuked at that time, although yesterday the White House did finally announce plans to put solar back on the roof at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the near future.   

Maldives President Nasheed says his country could not afford to delay another minute, with climate disruptions already impacting the tiny island nation 200 miles south southwest of the Southern tip of India.  Its highest point is only 2.4 meters above sea-level, leaving residents at extreme risk from rising sea levels caused by global climate change.<!--break-->

“For the Maldives, climate change is a real challenge. It is not a problem in the future, it is a problem that we are facing every day. We have more than 16 islands that are facing serious erosion problems. We are having to relocate people from one island to another. We also have serious water contamination issues due to saltwater intrusion, which lead to food security issues as well,” President Nasheed said today on a call with media. 

“For us it is an issue of life or death,” Mr. Nasheed said.

I asked President Nasheed what he thought about the criticism lodged by those who deny the science of climate change who often argue that renewable energy sources like solar are too expensive to warrant investment.

Drawing an anology to his grandfather, whom he said didn’t believe that man had landed on the moon, Nasheed said:

“There is very little we can do for that kind of ignorance, other than consistently trying to tell them that there is no doubt about the science about it.”

“You really have to be more intelligent about it.  And it’s very difficult for me to be telling the people of the United States, ‘try to have a better grip on knowledge,’” Nasheed said with a chuckle.

“To be going on with the obsolete technology is, in my mind, madness,” Nasheed said.

Sungevity founder Kennedy described President Nasheed as “a climate justice champion” who is “willing to roll up his sleeves and get involved, installing a money-saving solution to climate change.”


“The [350.org] Global Work Party begins with this installation,” Kennedy said of the Maldives project.  

350.org has tallied over 6,000 events in 184 countries happening this weekend as part of the group's 10.10.10 Global Work Party to demonstrate commitment to global climate action.

December 30 2009


Maldives Invites Other Threatened Nations to Participate In Survival Pact

As the threat to the existence of The Maldives and other low-lying nations grows by the day, President Mohamed Nasheed’s submerged cabinet meeting has become a mere beginning to a global campaign to stave off an humanitarian disaster. It has become clear even to the most staunch skeptics of global warming that the head of state of The Maldives is determined not to be flooded out of office. Good for him!

Speaking at the Climate Vulnerable Forum last month, Nasheed issued a call for all nations threatened by rising seas to join him in a survival pact through a carbon neutral future. The good people at 350.org are assisting and I cannot think of a better message as we close out one of the most chaotic years of weather on record.

Given the growing risk to many nations from rising seas, I invite you to visit the special page on 350.org to add your name as a demonstration of support for the survival pact. The URL is


Photo Credit: Chiara Goia for Time Magazine

November 06 2009


Climate change commitments of different countries

The US has said it will not sign up to a climate change deal unless developing nations also cut pollution. But what have rich and poor nations signed up to so far?
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