7 Endangered landmarks to visit before they disappear
Have you travelled this year? What motivates you to choose a destination?
Perhaps it’s a reasonable travel package or it’s a place your friends have raved about. Either way, rising temperatures, sea levels and other environmental changes are transforming some of the world’s most memorable natural wonders. From Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef, these landmarks are changing every minute and are headed towards complete extinction. Man-made structures are no exception. Air pollution, erosion, deforestation and farming activities are deteriorating wonders of the world as well. Before booking your next trip, consider a get-away to one of these top 7 places that will drastically change or worse, cease to exist in the future.
The Dead Sea
Stunning desert views and unique buoyancy (yes, everything floats here!) makes the Dead Sea a must-see attraction. Located at the lowest point on earth (1380 ft below sea level), the Dead Sea is shrinking at a rate of 3.3ft per year. The Dead Sea borders Jordan and Israel and development in these regions have decreased the inflow of water levels. The climate of the surrounding regions is increasingly hot and this hinders the sea’s ability to replenish itself. The Dead Sea’s main water source is the Jordan River and countries surrounding it have been drawing water from this river. Add the construction of dams, storage reservoirs and pipelines and mineral extraction – this sea is incredibly burdened. A third of the Dead Sea has disappeared in the past 40 years and if this continues, environmental scientists predict the Dead Sea can completely dry out by 2050.
The Great Wall of China
The largest man-made structure is expected to survive for only another 20 years. The Great Wall of China is a symbol of consolidation, strength and protection. It has stood the test of time for over 2,000 years but recent farming activities and extreme weather conditions deteriorated the wall faster than ever. Farming led activities have destroyed two thirds of the wall including the section, “crust of the cream,” which experienced a 700 meter loss due to the construction of underground mines. The Great Wall of China once stretched 3,9000 miles from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayugan Pass in the West. Environmental scientists estimate it’s distance has been reduced to 1,500 miles today.
Patagonia’s glaciers, Argentina
The Patagonia glaciers capture the world’s attention due to their enormous size and recent ruptures. Earlier this year, the Southern Patagonian Icefield split into separate icebergs in Southern Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. Chilean scientists predict more breaks are to come. The glaciers stretch for more than a million square kilometers across South America and are moving at different speeds - from about an inch to 33,000 feet per year! Part of the Paragonian Icefield, the Perito Moreno glacier, is the third largest reserve of freshwater and is threatened by less rainfall and increasing temperatures.
Madagascar is one of the largest islands in the world and is also a priority for biodiversity conservation. The incredible diversity in species, plants and resources are irreplaceable with more than 80% of this found nowhere else on earth. Environmental scientists predict Madagascar’s forests will exist only for another 35 years due to fires, mass deforestation, logging for timber and illegal wildlife trade. With a coastline of 4828km, Madagascar is drastically impacted by rising sea levels. So far, 99,000 hectares of forest are lost annually, and ocean levels have been rising on average 7 to 8mm per year resulting in coastal erosion and receding shorelines.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
American national park, Joshua Tree National Park is quickly losing the trees which makes this park iconic. Located east of Los Angeles and near San Bernardino and Palm Springs, this park was named after its Joshua trees. Spanning over 790,636 acres of land, the desert is split into the higher Mojave Desert and lower Colorado desert. Over the past years, Mojabe desert have not received its average 5 inches of rain as only 1 inch of rain has fallen in the past 7 months. Severe droughts and unhealthy yucca moths (which Joshua trees rely on for reproduction) is making it difficult for the trees to reproduce.
The Maldives is the lowest-lying country that is threatened by rising ocean levels. This popular tropical destination is located in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is comprised of atolls which are ring-shaped islands. Nearly 80% of its 1200 islands are only 1 metre above sea level and within 100 years, environmental scientists predict these islands will not exist. Locals have been displaced and the Maldives government is encouraging forestation, cleaning litter/debris from coral reefs to prevent beach erosion and tidal surges.
The Great Barrier Reef
By 2030, environmental scientists predict the world’s largest coral reef will be gone. The Great Barrier Reef hosts over 2,900 single reefs and 900 islands spanning 344,400 square kilometres. This coral reef system can be seen from space and attracts snorkelers and scuba divers from around the world. Unfortunately, rising temperatures has caused coral bleaching; organisms can’t handle heat and therefore bleach and die. Between 2016 and 2017, there has been record-breaking coral bleaching incidents which impacted two thirds of the barrier reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's recent report concludes that the acceleration of global warming will destroy these reefs.
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