Monday, March 16, 2009

Tiny Maldives Sets an Example for Bigger SAARC Countries in Working to go Carbon-Neutral

In one of the most crowded parts of the world which has the sad characteristic of being horribly polluted, South Asia crowds millions into a once beautiful region that is now dirty, which has disease, malnutrition and whose hard-working people find their governments sending much of their money away to the Middle East to buy expensive fuels. It iss here that the Maldives, a tiny island nation, has now decided to set an example by working to go carbon neutral within a decade as this post on Earth2Tech explains:

While I worked briefly at the Vijaya Hospital in Chennai some years ago, I got to know a number of Maldivian people including some of the seniormost politicians in the country. The one thing that you could rest assured about when you met any of them, was that they would be extremely polite and soft-spoken. Many of them also had strong views about the development of their island paradise. That is why, their recent fears about their beautiful country getting submerged if Global Warming continued have, most probably, prompted their efforts in setting an example to the rest of the world.

Let me not sugar-coat what happens in the Maldives, though - about ten years ago, the air in tiny Male was very badly polluted because of the large number of vehicles there. But, the Maldivians had some respect for the environment that I did not see anywhere else in the region. For example, dropping any trash - even a cigarette butt - in the sea could get you prosecuted as some Indians found out when they got slapped with heavy fines. The intention to do something positive was there. And that is what, I think, is pushing the Maldivians to make the changes that they seem set on making.

I am prepared to wager a bottle of fine wine that the Maldivians will achieve what they are setting out to do with time to spare. Their government and people do work together, after all, and do not suffer from the imperious politician-citizen disconnect that you find in other parts of South Asia. My only hope is that this new approach would find favor and imitators among the politicians and people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the three large nations in the region and the worst polluted ones as well.

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