Sports Illustrated Shoots 2010 Swimsuit Issue in Vanishing Maldives, Ignores Climate Crisis? (Video)


Photo via Telegraph UK

This year, part of the shoot for Sports Illustrated's infamous swimsuit issue took place on the Maldives Islands. The promo video features the usual - bikini clad women talking about how much fun it was to roll around on the beach and how lovely the islands are. Climate Progress is up in arms that the models--and the evident message of the video--is so ignorant of the Maldives' plight. Should SI have an obligation to mention the fact that rising sea levels caused by climate change is likely going to render the Maldives uninhabitable by the end of the century?Here's the video:

And here's Joe Romm:

the Maldives have an average elevation of four feet, which means it is exceedingly difficult to see how they can possibly survive the century, given humanity's myopic refusal to dramatically reverse emissions trends ... And that's why their President said he would "try to find a new homeland for Maldivians somewhere else in the world, on higher ground"...

Of course, there's nothing wrong with doing a photo-shoot for the Swimsuit Edition on the Maldivies. But what's terribly wrong here is for Sports Illustrated to put on the web a video that makes clear its featured supermodels are blissfully unaware of what's coming, like modern-day Marie Antoinettes and Madame de Pompadours.

He goes on to list some of the more egregious quotes you just saw in the video, including:
  1. "We're kind of channeling, like I said, that old '70s, '80s sort of really happy, sunny feeling."

  2. "Everything is just beautiful. Everything is taking its time here. And it's gorgeous."
The Maldives is arguably the most proactive country in the world when it comes to climate issues, very much because the island nation is getting swallowed by rising sea levels. While we bicker over irrelevant hacked emails, their nation is facing a very real crisis--one that will probably leave them with no nation to speak of.

Which is why the girls' quotes do seem rather grating--but how great an offense is this? By selecting the Maldives as a local for a photo shoot, should SI then be responsible for telling the whole story: beautiful, wonderful--but disappearing?

Then again, does Sports Illustrated really have any obligation to report on climate issues--the obvious answer seems to be no. It's a sports and entertainment magazine that in showing off the beauty of a place may encourage other acquainted with the problem to help preserve it. On the other hand, hearing someone say "everything is taking its time here" about a place that is deeply unsettled about its current situation seems misleading and a bit unfortunate.

If the models posed in front of a tropical rain forest that was slated to be clear cut, without mentioning deforestation, would that be inappropriate? I want to note here that I'm not arguing in favor of one position over another--while I think it'd be nice if SI mentioned Maldives' plight, it is by no means their responsibility to do so. I just think the whole thing raises interesting questions on the moral issues involved in coping with a changing climate.

(Note: I haven't seen the print issue, and this commentary is based on the lack of mention of climate change in the promo video only)

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