Many of us have been lucky enough to travel the world and experience a range of amazing places. Sail the Pacific Ocean to stunning islands; drive through Jordan and spot the ancient sandstone city of Petra through a crack in the rock; climb the Leaning Tower of Pisa or swim and snorkel in crystal clear waters over a coral reef. The experience of witnessing Alaska and all its wild beauty; visiting unique Venice with all its history, winding through canals and stepping over countless bridges; climbing snow- capped mountain ranges and treading carefully around what was once the ancient Olympic Games city of Olympia on the Greek mainland.
So many memories with many more to come, but for how long? Will our children, grandchildren and future generations get to see what we have seen? The experts are telling us that some of the exceptional places of our world may not be around as early as the next couple of decades.
The Maldives Islands have long been a favourite for visitors wishing to get some R&R on stunning beachside locations and offshore coral reefs teeming with sea creatures. These islands are the world’s lowest lying country and the UN Environmental Programme fears this will be the first nation to be lost to the ocean.
Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
Take a hike in Montana’s Glacier National Park and you will have indulged yourself in its spectacular beauty. This area boasted 150 glaciers 100 years ago, now only 25 remain. If our planet continues to warm as it is today, scientists believe it may be just 15 years until they are no more!
The Dead Sea
Ironically, as the name suggests, this sea is actually dying! Visitors have floated on this unusual phenomenon for decades due to its very high salt levels and healing properties, but this expanse of water is disappearing at a rate of a metre a year. Partly a victim of its own success, but also due to geological factors, this lake will eventually disappear.
The unique city of Venice is sinking fast beneath its wooden foundations. Rising sea levels are a massive issue, and although there has long been a plan to install flood gates, this may come too late to save iconic Venice.
Pacific Island Nations
The Pacific Island Nations are under threat from not only rising sea levels, where they are rising faster than anywhere else on earth, but from the basic human requirement that is fresh drinking water. Fresh water is already in short supply but if contaminated by absorbed seawater in the ground – making it undrinkable – these islands will begin to be uninhabitable as early as the next decade! Not only will tourists no longer be able to visit this paradise in the Pacific Ocean, but how devastating will it be for the inhabitants of this archipelago.
The glaciers of this vast mountain range towering Europe started melting around 150 years ago and continue to do so at an alarming rate. Experts say that two thirds of the ice will have melted by the end of the century. Within 3 decades half of today’s existing ice will disappear, regardless of future effects of climate change due to carbon emissions.
Olympia, Greece: Hot dry summers causing wildfires that encroach dangerously close to the ruins.
Machu Picchu: Over 2000 visitors daily, rising year on year, affecting its very being. Footfall; rubbish pollution; timber cutting; and human waste, are all contributing to the erosion of this sacred city. Heavy rain and landslides are also having an irreversible impact.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: 85 percent of the ice that covered the mountain in 1912 has now melted. It is said these glaciers could disappear in the next two decades.
Great Barrier Reef: Mass coral bleaching triggered by climate change and dying from the effects of scuba diving. 50% of its coral has been lost in 3 decades by pollution and tropical storms. Another decade may see irreversible damage.
Madagascan Rainforest: Nearly 90 percent of forests on this land are now gone.
Ayres Rock: An iconic symbol in the heart of Australia under threat from increased risk of hot weather, drought, fire and flash floods.
Wadi Rum: Under threat from harmful emissions from tourist vehicles. Historical competing tribes led to lack of environmental protection.
Alaska: Thawing permafrost and temperatures rising faster than average.
Finally, always travel responsibly and think carefully about your trip. The benefit of tourism is, of course, that it can and does have a positive impact on local communities and can help preserve iconic locations around the world for generations to come.