No time is better than the present to take a trip to these destinations that are slowly, but surely disappearing right before our eyes.
1. Glacier National Park, Montana
Global warming may seem like a distant danger, but for an area names for the glaciers that carved it millions of years ago, it is a very pertinent issue. Human-stimulated global warming is one of the main causes of the destruction of Glacier National Park’s biggest draw. One hundred years ago there were over 150 glaciers in the park and today there are just 25 left. The glaciers are expected to fully disappear by 2020, which would disrupt the ecosystems around the park and change the environment of the park completely.
2. The Maldives
The world’s lowest nation is also going to be the first nation swallowed up by the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is the smallest Asian county of about 1,190 islands and has over 600,000 tourists each year. Rising sea levels and global warming are the main reasons why the Maldives may be completely underwater in less than 100 years. In the past 100 years, the sea level has risen by about seven inches causing the President to start buying land in other countries, like India, Sri Lanka, and Australia, so that residents can relocate. According to the Daily Mail, in the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting, former President Mohamed Nasheed said,
“If the Maldives cannot be saved today we do not feel that there is much of a chance for the rest of the world.”
3. The Alps
These mountains that were formed millions of years ago stretch across eight different countries today. The Alps have lost 20% of their size since the 1980s and it is likely that they could completely disappear in the next 40 years. The cause? Global warming. Temperatures have increased twice as much as the global average and will continue to increase by .72 degrees Fahrenheit every 10 years. This loss would not only alter the supply of water in the area, but would also severely cripple the European ski business.
If sea levels in Bangladesh rise by one meter, 50% of the country would be completely flooded and the country is experiencing some of the fastest recorded sea-level rises in the world. Kutubdia is one of the many Bangladesh islands that are sinking rapidly from erosion and climate change. Adding to the already disastrous situation, neighboring country, India, is using up all of the country’s water supply making the area become increasingly uninhabitable . The Guardian quoted devastated schoolteacher, Nural Hashem,
“We lost everything. We are not happy, because we must move again. Climate change is making thousands of people homeless.”
5. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
One of the seven natural wonders of the world and the world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef is the only thing on Earth that can be seen from space. Unfortunately, 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be lost by 2030 and we won’t have this beautiful phenomenon for much longer. Coral reefs get their color from tiny algae that live in their tissues, but when temperatures get too hot the algae eject themselves and the corals appear bleached. Starfish also contribute to 42% of the destruction, because they eat coral and survive on growing agricultural pollution.
6. Venice, Italy
The Floating City, The City of Canals, The City of Bridges… Whatever you may call it; Venice is one of the world’s most beautiful cities, but it faces an inevitable destruction. Sea level around the city is rising by 4 – 6 millimeters (mm) per year and in the last 100 years, Venice has sunk by 9 inches. Scientists discovered that is also tilting at a rate of 1 – 2 mm per year right into the water. Each year thousands of tourists come on what may be their one and only visit to the sinking city since it is expected to be inhabitable for another 70 years.
7. The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, which is 8.6 times saltier than ocean water, is evaporating and being used as a main industry water source for fertilization companies in the area. In the last 40 years, the sea lost a third of its mass and is receding by an average of 13 inches per year. It is dangerous for the surrounding area because sinkholes are popping up and caving in villages as the water shrinks and destabilizes the ground. Business that were once on the shore of the sea are suffering because they are now set back a mile from the shoreline. The life expectancy of the sea is dwindling and is down to less than 50 years.
8. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The ecosystem in the Galapagos Islands is being completely destroyed as tourism increases each year. People are carelessly annihilating the islands by running over animals, catching animals in fishing nets, and bringing over invasive species that wipe out animals already facing possible extinction. Seventy five percent of the species on the islands are found nowhere else in the world and they are being wiped out by rats, goats, ants, dogs, and cats that are brought over by cruise ships, boats, and planes. The Telegraph quoted Martin Wikelski, biologist at Princeton University,
“The government needs to be stricter on what is allowed there. It is one of the world’s most unique ecosystems… and continues to be one of the most important laboratories for evolution studies.”
The world’s largest island is being demolished by forest logging, burning, and poaching of the animals on the island. As a result, desertification, degradation, and soil loss have affected 94% of the land. Over 80% of the flora and fauna on the island are found nowhere else on earth so destroying them would end their existence completely. Madagascar is home to over 20 species of lemurs that would also be wiped out if the island were to be completely destroyed. Out of the original 120,000 miles of forest, there are 20,000 left, expected to last about 35 years.
10. The Congo Basin
The world’s second largest rainforest has over 10 million acres of forest that are being degraded each year from mining, logging, farming, and guerilla warfare. This is a problem for the plants, animals, people, and the world. There are over 10,000 species of tropical plants in the Congo Basin and about a third of them are only found there. The area is also home to over 75 million people whose livelihoods are threatened the destruction of the Congo. Tropical rainforests produce 40% of the world’s oxygen, so the destruction is a pandemic issue. By 2040, up to 66% of its forests, plants, and wildlife could be gone.