One of the hottest (pardon the pun) and ubiquitous topics of controversy and concern these days is climate change. Global warming, with its melting glaciers, raging wildfires, and sinking islands, is transforming the very face of our earth—and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
While there’s still time to see some of the world’s most prized natural attractions and sought-after travel destinations before they disappear completely under the strain of our rapidly-changing climate (and due to our reckless consumption of resources), the question remains—what are we doing about it? Perhaps a visit to these beautiful places will open our eyes to the urgent reality of our situation and inspire us to think more about how our actions affect our planet.
The Amazon rainforest, which spans over 40 percent of the South American continent and is home to the largest number of living species in the world, is truly a remarkable wonder of nature. Rare animals such as a the brilliantly-coloured macaw, the long-nosed tapir, the blue-and-black spotted poison dart frog, and the jaguar, one of the Amazon’s most fearsome predators, thrive in their lush, natural habitat.
The Amazon is vast and teeming with life of all kinds; indeed, it is estimated that there are still 50 to 100 isolated tribes of people who have not yet made contact with the rest of the world. In 2019, that is no mean feat. However, despite the amount of life in this wondrous ecosystem, its very foundations are being shaken by climate change. Higher temperatures have brought on extreme droughts, which are causing trees to dry up and encouraging forest fires.
As the Amazon continues to suffer from the damning effects of global warming, scientists have pointed out that if this drought continues, trees are in danger of dying and the world’s largest rainforest will be devastated.
The Dead Sea
Located along the borders of Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank, the Dead Sea is a mysterious body of water whose strange reputation precedes it. Its shores at 430.5 meters (1412 feet) below sea level, make it the lowest land elevation on Earth. To add to that, its turquoise waters are known to contain strong healing properties, owing to rich, mineral-loaded mud and a high concentration of salinity—one of the highest in the world at 33.7%.
A popular tourist destination for its mud spas and healing water treatments, it is also a place steeped in history. But the Dead Sea is shrinking right before our very eyes at an alarming rate of around four whole feet a year, due to increasing temperatures and major industrial development, which has caused it to lose one-third of its surface area.
If things continue as they are, the mystical Dead Sea will be completely dry by 2050, experts said.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is loved by locals and tourists alike for its gorgeous scenery, abundance of wildlife species, and of course, its impressive glaciers. Spread over a million acres in Montana, right on the border of the United States and Canada, Glacier National Park is a thriving ecosystem of plants and animals and a most breath-taking travel destination.
While the scenic beauty of this national park is undeniable, its glaciers have not fared well because of rising global temperatures. While glacial recession because of climate change is now a worldwide phenomenon, Glacier National Park has been particularly affected; scientists estimate that 124 of the original 150 glaciers in the park have already disappeared—melted and gone forever.
As glacial shrinkage continues all over the world, scientists have said that there will be no ice left in Glacier National Park by the end of this century.
The Great Barrier Reef
A habitat to more than 1,000 jaw-dropping species of wildlife, from coral to fish and sharks to marine mammals, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia is the largest coral reef system in the world. Divers from all corners of the globe flock to the reef to dive with some of the most gorgeous and elusive undersea creatures—giant sea turtles, massive manta rays and dugongs—and explore the reef, which is so vast that all 2,000 kilometres of it can be seen from space.
This precious natural marvel, bursting with so much life and colour, has suffered great damage, thanks to rising water temperatures and humanity’s none-too-gentle touch—overfishing, trash, pollution and ship damage have all wreaked havoc on this natural world wonder.
According to scientists, almost 30 percent of the corals in the one of the most complex natural ecosystems in the world have died and collapsed, putting the species that call them home in grave jeopardy.
The Alps, the highest and most extensive mountain range in the European continent, with its profile of majestic, jagged peaks, is renowned for its glistening snow and world-class ski slopes. Situated across eight countries, the Alps has played host to the most elite in winter sports and is a wonderful destination for adventurous and luxurious travel.
But things have been heating up, literally. According to a piece in Time, the Alps experienced such a significant amount of snowmelt that the winter season in 2017 was 38 days shorter than what it was in 1960. In fact, many resorts have had to make use of snow machines to compensate for a serious lack of snow.
Scientists have pronounced that by the end of our century, you’ll have to ascend to 10,000 feet up into the Alps just to catch a glimpse of snow. /TISG