How this island oasis is using innovation to respond to climate change
Ric Edelman: It's Monday, October 23rd. The Maldives are a true island nation, 2000 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean. The country is more than 2500 years old. More than half a million people live there. It's often called Paradise on Earth. Temperatures range from 75 to 91 year round, with constant sea breezes producing a perfect climate. They're home to more than 1,000 coral reefs, with one of the most diverse marine environments in the world - 187 species of coral, 1,100 species of fish, five species of sea turtle, 21 species of whale and dolphin, 400 species of mollusk, 145 species of crab and 48 species of shrimp. The Maldives have beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, blue sky and, as you can guess, a popular tourist destination.
But the country is also extremely vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels. 80% of its land is less than three feet above sea level. By 2100, the entire country will be underwater. So they're building a floating city. It'll be able to rise with the sea. 5,000 modular units of housing, restaurants, hospitals and schools. 20,000 people will live there. Residents start moving in early next year. The city will be finished by 2027. Residents will use boats, bicycles and electric scooters to get around. Cars not allowed. The houses will cost $150,000 to $250,000. The units are modular, built at a local shipyard, and they're towed to the floating city. Once there, they're attached to a concrete hull that is screwed to the seabed so it can gently float with the waves. Coral reefs provide a natural wave breaker, stabilizing the city and preventing anybody from getting seasick. Solar power will provide the electricity. Sewage will be repurposed as manure.
Last year, flooding cost the global economy $82 billion. By 2030, the end of this decade, cities will incur $700 billion in losses from coastal and river flooding. The Maldivians are going from climate refugees to climate innovators. And this isn't the only project like this.
Creating buildings with innovative designs and construction techniques, this is all becoming more common. It's a big deal because the construction industry generates about 40% of the world's carbon emissions. New laws around the world are requiring the construction industry to change how they design, construct and maintain buildings.
The benefits are obvious: reduced carbon emissions, less use of water, using safer materials, reducing exposure to toxins. Green buildings are also more energy efficient and they're cheaper to operate. Green building materials include stone, bamboo, recycled steel, reclaimed wood, and something called cob, that's a mixture of mud made from soil, sand, straw and lime. Homes that are constructed with cob. They tend to look like hobbit homes, you know, from the Lord of the Rings.
The market for green building materials is growing really fast, and that's why I'm invested in the Global X Green Building ETF. The ticker is GRNR, “greener”. It invests in companies that ought to benefit from increased demand from buildings that are either improving the environment or reducing negative impact. We're talking about companies involved in green building, development and management, and technologies that are used to increase energy efficiency. The fund is passively managed, tracks the Solactive Green Building Index; the Global X Green Building ETF, ticker GRNR. You can learn more about it at Global X ETFs.com. If you're an investor, ask your financial advisor about it.
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