The Maldives, a string of islands in the Indian Ocean, and Greenland's biggest glacier, Ilulissat, are polar opposites in terms of location and terrain, but the two places do share some common ground: Both locales are among the hardest hit by global warming, CBS correspondent Mark Phillips reported.
The Maldives are a big tourist spot, but their greatest attractions -- coral sand beaches-- are also their biggest liability.
"No place here is higher than seven feet, ten inches above sea level," Phillips said. "80 percent of the land is three feet or less above the encroaching waves. And the waves are encroaching."
The Maldives' President Mohamed Nasheed has taken extreme measures to emphasize the urgency of the situation, like holding a cabinet meeting under water. This is what the Maldives will look like if no deal is reached to reduce the greenhouse gases, Nasheed emphasized.
The problem originates with the melting glaciers of the world's ice caps, which brings us to Ilulissat. Greenland's glacier is now sending mountain-sized icebergs out to sea at double the rate it was ten years ago, Phillips said. How quickly this continues to happen will determine how quickly sea levels rise in places like the Maldives.
Unlike the Maldives, Greenland's economy is getting a boost from climate change. Mining companies are developing newly exposed resources, and oil reserves are now accessible offshore.
Many Greenlanders, like Johannes Mathaussen, are also adapting to the new conditions, Phillips said. Mathaussen typically makes a living by fishing and hunting seals, but nowadays, he takes tourists on dog sled excursions.
"Extreme Greenland!" Mathaussen shouted as he sledded down a slope.
WATCH Phillip's report here:
SEE photos of Nasheed's underwater meeting:
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