COP26: Welcome to ‘the trash island’ – the garbage infested focus of the Maldives is now crucial to its fight against the climate | Climate News

The Malé fish market is bustling with activity.

The harvest from the Indian Ocean is abundant.

Wholesalers haggle hard, fighting to get the best price for the outlet.

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Male fish market is buzzing

The cacophony is matched only by the riot of color provided by the glassy-eyed fish.

There is always plenty to support the islanders and support a thriving export industry.

Next door is the capital’s fruit and vegetable market. Small yellow bananas hang from their stems above stalls filled with green mangoes, small red chili peppers and plump cabbages.

But in the Maldives, the land for growing fruits and vegetables is limited.

This is why cultures like these are precious and appreciated.

The changing seasons make it more difficult to grow cash crops.

Land to cultivate fruit and vegetables in limited in the Maldives
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Limited land to cultivate fruit and vegetables in the Maldives

The severe storms that hit the northern islands wiped out an entire growing season.

Mohamed Adam struggled.

He owns a small farm in Dhigurah, a small island south of Male.

mohamed adam
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Mohamed Adam owns a small farm in Dhigurah

His farm is close to the shore and that carries risks. Storm surges are more frequent.

They soak his crops in salt water, damaging and sometimes killing his crops, including his beloved banana trees.

Mr. Adam tells me, “Bad weather lasts much longer and the frequency of thunderstorms is much higher now.

“With calm periods being much shorter, crops have no chance to recover and grow back before another storm hits.”

The extreme weather conditions described by Mr. Adam are motivated by climate change, and it threatens to destroy the Maldives, killing its coral reefs and submerging the islands.

The Maldivians – alone – are powerless to stop this.

But they are doing what they can to protect their country.

thilafushi island in the maldives
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Up to 700 tonnes of household waste was dumped there every day

Thilafushi is better known as Trash Island. It is a mountain of festering waste that rises from the pristine emerald water.

HeyGiant dump trucks blow sandstorms as they haul their trash up the steep rubbish hill.

Up to 700 tonnes of household waste was dumped there every day and burned in the open air, releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

garbage island maldives
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Household waste is burned in the open, spewing toxic fumes into the atmosphere

Local islanders nearby complained of being constantly shrouded in smoke.

After 30 years, the fire is finally extinguished.

A modern waste plant with a closed incinerator producing green energy will be built here instead.

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The Maldives are fighting for their survival

Imjad Jaleel, a waste-to-energy project consultant for the new site, says the government of the Maldives is committed to minimizing the environmental impact on the islands.

He said: “I think what we are doing is what needs to be done as a responsible nation, as a responsible government, as a responsible country with citizens dying to breathe fresh air. .

“Personally, I could not have imagined that I would be in the middle of this volcanic dump and still breathe clean air.”

Imjad Jaleel, a waste-to-energy project consultant for the new site, says the government of the Maldives is committed to minimizing the environmental impact on the islands.  (Check)
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Imjad Jaleel says government of Maldives is committed to minimizing environmental impact on islands

Maldivians understand the climate threat to their country.

For years, they have been asking the world for help. But the iconic coral-fringed islands don’t seem to face an existential threat.

Calm turquoise waters and golden palm-fringed beaches are all too easily associated with the islands’ five-star resorts.

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It’s easy to forget the 400,000 people who have lived on these islands for generations. This is their home.

There is already talk of rehousing vulnerable coastal communities.

If this happens, more than lives and livelihoods will be lost.

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