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Maldives: Paradise threatened?

Endangered because of climate change, it works to be friendlier to the environment.

January 10, 2010|By Amanda Jones

It would be remiss to visit the Maldives and not scuba dive. The country is known for its impressive sea life. The Beach House, with its untrammeled waters, has some of the best reefs. Although warming waters have bleached the reefs, the spectacle of pelagic and tropical fish was mind-blowing.

The Beach House was about to be taken over by the Hilton World of Astoria Hotels, which has a good record for sustainable practices. Right now the resort is spotlessly luxurious and downright fun, but it seems not to have taken to heart the need to reduce its footprint.

With a capacity for 160 guests, the garbage generated and the boat usage are large, and everything runs on generators. Although no one seemed to be able to tell me about any solid plans because of the management transition, there is hope that Hilton will commit to Nasheed's carbon-neutral campaign.

But, in reality, what difference will the Maldives' efforts make to halt global warming? Not much. The planet doesn't care where people are burning fossil fuels, only how many of them are doing so. About 490,000 Maldivians, most of whom don't drive, use wind-powered sailboats and grow their own food, will not halt climate change. But their efforts are symbolic. They have a lot to lose.

As do all of us. The thought of a place so rare and spectacular as the Maldives disappearing ought to be enough to fuel a radical effort to change our ways. And we don't need a guru to tell us how important places of extraordinary beauty are in keeping our inner turmoil at bay.

travel@latimes.com

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