Ten years ago, it was unthinkable. Nowadays,environmental writers feel compelled to point out the necessity of visiting some of the most beautiful and unique places on earth before they are gone (or not visiting them in the hope that they remain pristine).
These places, from Alaska to Tanzania, are in danger of losing their beauty, or sinking under the oceans whole, as a result of climate change (global warming), a growing global population that forces urban expansion, and tourism itself, which introduces pollution and degradation
A case in point is Everglades National Park (Florida), where the Army Corps of Engineers (a separate, boots-on-the-ground agency in the U.S. government) has been diverting water since WWII, most of it for agriculture.
Even without the Corps, the Everglades have suffered greatly from an increasing number of deadly hurricanes, like Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina (2005), the latter leaving the historic city of New Orleans in such chaos that it has never been completely rebuilt.
What other places might become off limits to tourism as the globe warms and population spreads?
- The Maldives, which is sinking into the ocean
- The Tower of London (and Westminster), which is threatened by the rising waters of the Thames River
- Australia, the Great Barrier Reef
- Nepal, the Kathmandu Valley, only recently delisted by UNESCO thanks to improved conservation techniques
- Athens, Greece (and Rome, and Egypt), where rising temperatures and water shortages make touring uncomfortable or downright difficult
- Sarangani Bay, in the Philippines, where a coal ship ran aground in May of this year, taking out a big segment of a coral reef
- Spain, where rising temperatures provide prime habitat for the malarial mosquito – a condition noted as far back as 1999
To read about more endangered places, visit UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites report, “Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage.”
The UK Guardian recently announced a book, “100 Places to Go Before They Disappear,” written by Patrick Drew (with a forward by Ranjedra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, and an essay by contributions by Desmond Tutu, a social justice activist). The read is entertaining but profoundly disturbing.
Even more stunning is the Newsweek spread, with fantastic pictures, called Our Endangered Planet, by FareedZakaria. Read it and weep for what once was and soon will be no more, unless we – custodians of Earth – are able to halt carbon dioxide emissions and keep the magic warming number below 2 degrees C
Image Credit: Sarangani Ronald de Jong / Aliawan Travel Images
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