These stunning destinations may soon be gone forever
In 2017, yet another study published in Nature determined that climate change has accelerated the rate at which the sea levels are rising. So it stands to reason that the destination most at risk is the lowest-lying country in the world, an island nation comprised of a series of atolls formed from coral in the Indian Ocean. Go now, while the Maldives are still a tropical paradise with year-round temperatures in the low 80s, crystalline waters, and beaches that glow in the dark.
Everglades National Park, USA
The beautiful and unique wetland wilderness at the southern tip of Florida contains the Western Hemisphere’s largest mangrove ecosystem and largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie. It is home to an exceptional variety of wading birds, reptiles and numerous threatened species, such as the Florida panther and manatee. Urban development, industry and agriculture pressures have destroyed more than half of the original Everglades and what remains has been on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger since 2010.
If your bucket list features a romantic gondola ride on picturesque canals, there’s no time like the present to book a trip to Venice. Due to rising sea levels and natural tectonic processes, the stunning “Floating City” is sinking at a rate of one to two millimetres per year, according to a study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography. That translates to around 8cm over the next two decades.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The world’s largest and most breathtaking coral reef is dying at the hands of humans. Climate change and pollution have led to acidification, extreme weather and starfish outbreaks. Spikes in water temperature have caused large-scale coral bleaching episodes, in which vast swathes of colourful corals turn a sickly white. More than half of the reef’s coral cover has disappeared since the 1980s, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and experts say the rest could be lost within two decades.
Ready for your next big adventure? During summer in the southern hemisphere, the sea ice shrinks, allowing cruise ships access to a vast white wilderness larger than Europe and home to a wonderful assortment of species, including penguins, leopard seals and orcas. In 2017, a study published in Nature predicted that the world’s permanent ice caps are on track to shrink by nearly 25 percent by the end of the century and most of this will occur in the Antarctic Peninsula. This will irreversibly change the continent’s fragile ecosystem.
Great Wall of China
China’s most famous monument stretches more than 20,000 kilometres in its entirety, but according to Smithsonian Magazine, less than nine percent of the Great Wall remains in good condition. Much of the Ming Dynasty portion of the wall had disappeared at the hands of erosion and human damage from tourists who walk on it, locals who pilfer bricks for their own use, and graffiti artists who use it as a canvas. While some restoration of the Great Wall is happening, a lack of substantial government funding to protect the landmark means its future will continue to be threatened.
From rococo palaces and Baroque castles to famed coffeehouses, world-class museums, and labyrinthine-like alleyways, Vienna’s appeal has endured for millennia. But last year, UNESCO added the beautiful historic centre of the Austrian capital to the List of World Heritage in Danger due to a boom of high-rise projects that will change the city’s skyline forever.
When a hunk of land split off from the African continent 160 million years ago, the result was Madagascar – an island with distinct ecosystems and an extraordinarily diverse collection of plant life and wildlife. An astounding number of Madagascar’s reptiles and mammals exist nowhere else on Earth. Sadly, most of Madagascar’s forests have been destroyed by deforestation, which remains the biggest single threat to the island’s wildlife. A 2017 study found that Madagascar’s remaining forests are being destroyed at the rate of about one percent each year.
Just like in Antarctica, the Patagonian Ice Fields in the Southern Andes range that straddles Argentina and Chile are shrinking at a shockingly fast rate due to global warming – so adventure seekers should visit before they disappear. In a 2015 study, scientists from UC Irvine found that Patagonia glaciers are receding at rates of up to 10 kilometres per year.
A 2011 report by the United Nations predicted devastating effects of rising sea levels on the Caribbean islands by the end of this century, detailing a grim vision with more than 300 tourist resorts wiped out along with the airports, power plants, roads and agricultural lands at many popular destinations. What’s the timeline? The Third National Climate Assessment, released in 2014, projected a sea level rise of 30-120cm by 2100.
Can Game of Thrones be too much of a good thing? The HBO mega hit has made the ancient Croatian city so popular that it is literally turning tourists away. Dubrovnik is blessed with idyllic weather and a stunning coastline on the Adriatic Sea. But its starring role as the mythical King’s Landing has led to a sustained influx of tourists that threatens the World Heritage Site’s character, particular in the pedestrians-only Old Town. Last year the city’s mayor, Mato Franković, capped the number of visitors at 4,000 per day – half the limit allowed by UNESCO – and told The Telegraph he also planned to curtail the number of cruise ships stopping in port.
Bordeaux Wine Country, France
Dreaming of touring one of France’s most beloved wine-growing regions? It might be smart to do it sooner rather than later. Bordeaux is facing a two-thirds fall in production over the next 40 years due to climate shifts that affect rainfall, temperature and hours of sunshine. According to Wine Spectator, at the Vinexpo conference in Bordeaux in 2017, Harvard professor John Holdren predicted that the land suitable for grape-growing will potentially shrink by 23 percent by 2050.
Glacier National Park, USA
More than three million people visited Montana’s Glacier National Park in 2017, making it the busiest year in park history. The record-setting attendance was all the more notable given that this pristine park is rapidly losing its eponymous glaciers. A report released by the U.S. Geological Survey found that over the past 50 years global warming has caused the shrinking of the 26 remaining glaciers in the park – a number down from 150 in 1850. At this rate, scientists predict there will be no ice left by the end of the century.