June 26, 2012 – Lexington MA
When my teammate, Murtaza Nek, excitedly told me we were being honored with the opportunity to view a screening of “The Island President” at the Kendall Square Cinema, I responded with a puzzled face. I had never heard of Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives, which is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean. As the movie played, I quickly became utterly entranced, astounded by this Mohamed Nasheed’s awe-inspiring story.
After surviving thirty years of despotic rule as a political activist, during which he was repeatedly arrested and tortured, Nasheed succeeded in establishing a democracy in the Maldives and was elected it’s first president. Upon taking office he quickly realized that his country faced the single largest threat any nation has ever encountered, its complete annihilation by the rising sea. If serious action is not taken to combat climate change and limit our CO2 emissions, as one of the lowest lying landmasses in the world, the ocean will literally swallow the Maldives. In a matter of mere decades, this beautiful tropical paradise will simply cease to exist. Leaving behind three hundred thousand people doomed to become some of the world’s first climate refugees. They will lose not only their homes, but also their entire cultural identity. Upon becoming aware of this terrifying reality, President Nasheed faced the problem head on, something no other world leader has dared to do.
As I watched, perched on the edge of my seat, I felt slightly ashamed and a little silly that I had not been familiar with Mohamed Nasheed previous to this night. Following his first year in office, the movie chronicled his efforts to acquire binding world legislation to reduce carbon emissions. It climaxed with his journey to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit where he delivered an impassioned plea to the worlds largest, most polluting nations: China, India and the United States. To no surprise, he met with much opposition and only managed to secure a fraction of the agreement he originally proposed (to reduce carbon emissions to 350ppm and limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees). My heart swelled with sorrow as he stood behind the pulpit and said, “We continue to shout even though we know that, you’re not really listening!”
Blog continues on "The Island President" Part Two