Our world is in danger, extreme danger, and it is all our fault. Climate change, mismanagement and the biggest threat, humans, are seriously jeopardising the future of many of the most beautiful destinations on earth. We have compiled a list of 15 places that will soon disappear.
1. The Great Barrier Reef
If you’re planning a visit to Nemo’s World, you might want to hurry. The Great Barrier Reef is no longer as colourful as it was when Marlin and Dory began their journey to Australia. Pollution, overfishing, shipping traffic and worryingly rising ocean temperatures are killing all the underwater flora, turning it white. Scientists confirm that more than half of the Great Barrier Reef is already dead and that the rest has not long to live. Set off from Cairns to discover one of the still intact parts of the reef, where you can see turtles, dolphins and parrot fish.
If you look up the word ‘irony’ in the dictionary, you’ll find a picture of Che Guevara’s son with his scooter company capitalising on the new wave of tourists travelling to Cuba. A 61-year US embargo literally ‘froze’ the streets of Havana in the 1950s, with their retro cars, neon signs and Art Nouveau architecture. The recent easing of US travel restrictions means only one thing: soon the streets of Cuba will soon be overrun by McDonalds and Starbucks, which will sooner or later replace the typical bars and jazz clubs, threatening to erase the unique, old-world charm of this wonderful place.
This Central American nation is on every backpacker’s bucket list, but unfortunately Nicaragua will soon disappear too. This state is a natural playground of volcanic terrain, incredible beaches and lush forest, but plans to build a 270km-long canal from coast to coast will change this landscape forever. The $50 billion project is stalled, but should it be approved, there will be a huge and irreparable impact on local wildlife, untouched countryside and majestic lakes.
4. The Taj Mahal
Like a smoker’s teeth, India’s most famous palace is slowly turning yellow. It is still not too late to see this work of art in its whiteness. Air pollution is staining the Taj Mahal with a pungent yellowish tinge, and the white marble is beginning to resemble the yellow halos in the armpit area of our white shirts. Fortunately, a team of people is working to clean and restore this 350-year-old wonder.
There are plenty of good reasons to worry about climate change: melting glaciers, endangered species, catastrophic weather events. There is one more thing to consider, the reduction in wine production! Changes in temperature, rainfall and sunshine in the south of France have drastically reduced the amount of wine produced and it is expected to fall by a further two-thirds over the next 50 years.
6. The Everglades
The Everglades National Park, Florida USA, is a unique and endangered ecosystem. These sunny swamps near Miami are home to alligators, crocodiles, brown bears, orchids, storks and the very special Floria panther. Rising water levels, industrial pollution and urban development are wiping out the natural habitat of these creatures.
7. The Great Wall of China
Confucius once said: ‘the man who moves mountains begins with the smallest stones’. The Chinese philosopher may well have meant the Great Wall of China, but the fact is that this wonder of the world is eroding brick by brick. Less than 10% of the original 21,000-kilometre-long wall is considered well-preserved, all because of people breaking off pieces and selling them to tourists.
8. The Dead Sea
Located more than 400 km below sea level, this salty sea between Israel and Jordan has attracted visitors for a millennium with the desire to float in its mineral-rich waters. Overexploitation of the Jordan River upstream is draining the water level by about a metre every year, so it won’t be long before the Dead Sea really begins to live up to its name.
There are places to visit before they disappear and others that must be seen before the land literally vanishes beneath your feet. Since 2007, the Cambodian government has sold its natural resources to the most generous bidder, including 80 million tonnes of sand, shipped from the mangrove forest to Singapore to expand the land mass of this small country. This practice has seriously endangered local wildlife, ruined villages and destroyed Cambodia’s natural barrier to limit sea level rise. Do not let too much time pass before visiting one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Forget the gondola, soon you will have to pack your mask and flippers to wander the canals of Venice. This city is slowly sinking millimetre by millimetre every year. The greatest danger in 2019 is flooding, caused by rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions and cruise ship traffic eroding the fragile foundations of the spectacular buildings lining the Grand Canal.
11. The Great Pyramids of Giza
The last remaining wonder of the ancient world may not survive. Construction companies are not paying enough attention to the laws limiting the construction of new buildings at least 5km away from the Pyramids, building golf courses, high-rise apartment blocks and fast food restaurants at the gates of this wonder of antiquity.
The natural border between Chile and Argentina that goes all the way to the southernmost tip of Latin America, Patagonia represents the second largest glacier in the world. This remote part of the world, with its imposing glaciers, will soon disappear. In fact, Antarctica is melting 160 billion tonnes every year, the glaciers in Montana National Park have shrunk from 150 to 25, and the Bolivian glacier has literally disappeared in the last 20 years.
Do you remember the film Madagascar? The one where Fabio De Luigi dubbed the hypochondriac giraffe and Oreste Baldini and his squadron of lemurs drove us crazy with the song ‘Mi Piaci Se Ti Muovi’? Well, the animals of Madagascar are not quite as happy as those in the film would have you believe – agriculture, charcoal production and deforestation have destroyed 90% of the island along with its extraordinary biodiversity.
📷 Amy Reed
The Austrian capital will not disappear, but its historic centre will. A collection of elegant churches, beautiful palaces and Baroque beauty, Vienna’s innermost district has been added to the ‘UNESCO List of Heritage in Danger’ due to the aggressive gentrification that is transforming the landscape of this timeless city. Skyscrapers threaten the Stadpark, while a boom of new buildings is slowly replacing Vienna’s beautiful Baroque architecture.
15. The Maldives
The sunsets in the Maldives are legendary, but the country itself could disappear from the face of the earth. This chain of islets in the middle of the Indian Ocean is very vulnerable to rising sea levels. Experts think that the Maldives will completely sink within the next 100 years.
The time has come to pay more attention to our habits, change some behaviour, and always inform ourselves about what can be done not only to save the places in this article, but also everything else on our beautiful Planet Earth.