The world around us is filled with many beautiful sights to see and explore, on all corners of the planet. Some of these places are, however, in danger of disappearing forever. Whether it be because of factors such as climate change, rising sea levels, or pure human carelessness, there are entire countries at risk of no longer being there. When planning your next trip, consider one of these places as their days are definitely numbered.
Great Barrier Reef | Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is considered a natural wonder of the world and is also a UNESCO world heritage site. It attracts thousands of visitors per year, all vying to get a glimpse of the beautiful colors of the reefs that lie beneath the ocean’s surface. The Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem has been taking quite the hit from global warming. In order for the reef to maintain it’s vibrant colors, tiny algae that live within the reefs must be present at all times. Rise in sea temperatures and ocean acidification has been threatening these very algae. When the algae leave the reefs, it causes coral bleaching. The Great Barrier Reef has already been 93% damaged by the bleaching and at the rate it’s going, the reef could be completely wiped out by the year 2050.
Venice | Italy
Have you ever dreamed of riding a gondola through the watery canals of Venice? Time is ticking on that dream. One of the world’s most romantic cities and the one nicknamed “the floating city” is on it’s way out. The city famous for it’s canals has been sinking for quite some time now but an increase in the amount of flooding the city is seeing, is raising alarms. Though 90% of the city remains above water, Venice has been sinking over 20 centimeters per year with the rising of sea levels not helping the case. Aside from the fact that the city is slowly sinking, all the major floods Venice is seeing is also destroying the foundation of the Venetian buildings. Water has been seeping into the cracks of the brickwork and walls are dissolving.
The Maldives are composed of over a thousand coral islands which are only about two meters above sea level, making the Maldives the lowest country in the world. As with any island country situated in the middle of the ocean, rising sea levels is the source of the problem here. With the continuous melting of icebergs and global warming, The Maldives could be completely submerged within the next 30 years. A tsunami that hit the island in 2004 has already wiped out over two-thirds of the country, so now would be the time to start saving and planning your trip to this tropical destination.
Most of you will have heard of Madagascar because of the cute animated movie that came out a few years ago with the same name, but Madagascar is also a stunning country with lush forests and exotic animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Those are the very two things that are in danger in this case. Though Madagascar as a whole will not be disappearing anytime soon, the forests and the animals that live in them will most likely be gone within the next 35 years. Logging, poaching, and burning of the forests for subsistence farming are the major reasons for the impending demise of these forests. Just to show how important these forests are, more than 80% of the plants and animals found here cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Even worse, Madagascar is also home to many species of flora and fauna that haven’t been properly discovered yet and may very well never be. In the past 20 years, over 30 percent of the forests have been destroyed.
Iles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) | Quebec
Famously known for it’s white sand beaches and sandstone cliffs, this island getaway is located in the Gulf of the St-Lawrence river. One of the most beautiful towns in my home province is facing some hard times and even though the Magdalen Islands won’t be disappearing anytime in our lifetime, it’s still upsetting to see a place so beautiful that won’t be able to be enjoyed for very much longer. In Magdalen Islands, there is a wall of sea ice that protects the coast against the harsh water but because of global warming, this wall of ice has started to melt. At the rate that it is melting, the wall will be melted completely between the years 2050 and 2090. This archipelago has some of the strongest winds which have already been eroding the island’s fragile coast, so much so that 1 meter of the cliffs are lost each year. At this rate, it is predicted that the North Shore of the island will be completely flooded by the end of the 21st century. With the rapid melting of the wall of ice, the fragile coast will be exposed to some severe winds and harsh storms, so really it is only a matter of time where we say goodbye to the beautiful Magdalen Islands.
Yet another tropical destination that is on a quick ride to extinction, the Seychelles could be completely submerged within the next 50 years. This country is composed of 115 islands and is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, right near the Madagascar. This archipelago is facing two major problems: rising sea levels and beach erosion. A major part of the coral found around the islands has been destroyed because of beach erosion which is not good news for the Seychelles, as coral reefs reduce the height of waves by more than two-thirds before they crash into the coastlines. Without any coral left, the entire island could be swept away. Another big factor in the demise of the Seychelles is the rising sea levels. Climate changes are constantly causing the levels of the sea to rise, which is bad news for a low lying country like the Seychelles. In conclusion, this beautiful vacation spot will either be swept away because of the complete erosion of the islands or it will be submerged into the ocean when the sea levels rise over it.
Taj Mahal | India
Sitting on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the town of Agra, India, stands the marble palace known as the Taj Mahal. Built between 1632 to 1653, this magnificent structure sees about eight million visitors per year. Though this world renowned monument won’t necessarily disappear, it is at risk of being shut down to the public. The decision was made when officials realized that air pollution and human traffic were causing the structure to start crumbling. Major cracks started appearing in 2010 and have only been expanding since then. Air pollution has been eating away at the facade, as well as transforming the normally ivory-white exterior into a brownish-yellow color. There is also the fact that experts are convinced that the Taj Mahal is slowly sinking into the ground. The monument’s foundation is dependent on the moisture from the Yamuna river but because the river is drying up and receding, the foundation is suffering. Within the next 3-5 years, the Taj Mahal will only be able to be viewed from afar and visitors will no longer be permitted onto the grounds or into the monument itself.
Galapagos Islands | Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands located in Ecuador. The islands are well known for their biodiversity as well as the different species of animals that live here that are specific to the region, much like the case in Madagascar. Yet again another place that won’t completely vanish, in this case it is the makeup of the islands that will be compromised. Factors such as ocean temperatures rising, over-fishing, and careless tourism are attributing to this. The rising temperatures of the ocean has been killing off reefs and algae blooms around the islands, as well as marine life which is also affecting the land animals. Already over 45 species of wildlife found in the Galapagos Islands are extinct or facing near extinction. Within the next 100 years the Galapagos Islands will be changed forever, for the worst.
The Dead Sea
For years tourists have been flocking to the Dead Sea to witness the phenomenon that it is. The Dead Sea sits at the border of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan and is the saltiest body of water on Earth as well as the lowest point, sitting at about 300 feet below sea level. It is believed to be a place of healing. It also allows visitors to float on the surface of the water freely because of the high content of salt and the density of the water. This natural wonder will however only be available to visit for another 30-50 years. This is because the water in the Dead Sea is disappearing at an alarming rate, 3 feet per year to be exact. Climate change and humans are the reasoning for it’s demise. Since the temperatures have been rising, the water in the Dead Sea is evaporating a lot faster than it used to. The Jordan River, which is the Dead Sea’s only water source, is also being used a lot more. In the last 40 years the sea has shrunk by a third of it’s size and has shrunk over 80 feet. Experts believe that it will be completely dried up within the next 50 years.
Patagonia | Argentina & Chile
Labeled as the “land of untouched beauty”, Patagonia overwhelms it’s visitors with it’s beautiful landscapes and stunning views. The clock is ticking on Patagonia, however. Best known for it’s tall glaciers that cover the mass majority of the area, this landscape will soon be changed forever. Not a stranger to climate change, the glaciers have been rapidly melting away and have even started thinning even at the highest points of the glaciers. The plants and animals found in Patagonia are also at risk of losing their habitats. It is believed that the glaciers will be completely melted by the end of this century, leaving Patagonia forever changed.
The Alps Mountains | Europe
The European Alps are a skiers dream with an abundance of ski resorts and mountains surrounding you. Yet another victim of climate change, the time to ski on these mountains is limited. The Alps sit at a lower altitude than the Rocky Mountains do which means that climate change affects the Alps much faster. About 3 percent of the Alpine Glacial ice is lost each year which amounts to about 3.3 feet of ice thickness lost. Though it seems still so far away from it’s expiration date, it’s still happening and when the glaciers melt on the Alps they will never come back and the Instagram worthy ski destination will be gone forever.
Joshua Tree National Park | California
Set in the heart of the Mojave Desert in California lies the Joshua Tree National Park, named after the native Joshua Trees that grow only in this area. Hundreds of visitors flock to this area each year to see these unique trees up close and personal. You should probably hurry though if you have this place on your bucket list as within this century the Joshua Tree National Park will be no more. The reason for this is because there will be no more Joshua Trees, which is exactly what makes the park unique. In recent years California has experienced some it’s worst droughts seen in recent years. In the Mojave Desert, only one inch of rain has fallen in the past seven months. Because of this, older Joshua Trees have started to dry up and the seedlings in the ground cannot extend their roots to grow properly seeing as it’s so hot and dry in the desert, that the tiny amount of rain it does see, the water evaporates back into the air faster than the seedlings are able to absorb it all.
Glacier National Park | Montana
About 100 years ago, Northern Montana was home to about 150 glaciers. Today there are approximately 27 left. Thought this park may not disappear anytime soon, it will be drastically changed within the next 15 years. This is all due in fact, once again, to climate change and pollution. A rise in global temperatures is a big reason why it’s estimated that by the year 2030 the biggest glaciers in the park will be gone. The ecosystem depends on the glaciers to help regulate stream temperatures and flow. Without that, the park will no longer be what it used to be.
The Great Wall of China | China
Considered one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China spans over an area of about 5500 miles. Years of decay, frequent sandstorms, and the large number of tourists have caused two-thirds of the wall to erode away completely. At the same rate it is estimated that the rest of the wall will disappear within the next 20 years. Even though the wall is built of bricks and stones it cannot withstand the constant force of wind and rain. People are also stealing bricks from the wall to build homes. Then of course the increase in people visiting the wall hasn’t helped much either. Some sections of the wall are seeing more people than they can bear which is leading it to crumble and to get damaged completely.
Miami | Florida
Each year millions of tourists flock to Miami, Florida to experience the Cuban lifestyle, trendy nightclubs, and white sand beaches. Rising sea levels are, however, threatening this coastal city and it could be completely submerged within the next 15 years. The city’s administration is working on elevating roads to escape flooding, yet it might be too late. The sea level has been steadily rising for the past few decades and flooding in the streets has gotten more severe and more frequent. The entire city sits only about five feet above sea level and the whole city sits on a foundation of limestone that is slowly withering away. With the recent hurricane that has hit Southern Florida which flooded Miami, time is of the essence to get your chance to visit this bustling city.