Sinking Maldives Warns of Global Warming Dangers

"President Obama's administration has been quite an encouragement to people down here and to people in island nations," said Ali Rilwal, a local environmentalist. "There's a lot of inspiration for us; we hope the U.S. is going to take a stand this time."

In September, President Nasheed told a high-level meeting at the U.N. that any action in Copenhagen short of a global treaty on greenhouse gas reductions would be "signing a death warrant" for the people of the Maldives. More specifically, President Nasheed wants world powers to make an arrangement for small island countries such as the Maldives, including financial aid to support adaptation to changing climate conditions.

"This for us is survival -- as a nation, as a country, as a culture," Rilwal. said. "If emissions are not reduced, we might be submerged, and in a hundred years we'll have to hold our cabinet meetings underwater."

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