The world is full of bewitching sights, but climate change and a booming tourist industry threaten some of the most spectacular places on our planet. Here are just a few of the natural wonders we could lose over the next 100 years.
Covering 133,000 square miles, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef network in the world. Over the last century, increasing environmental pressures and government legislation have caused extreme distress to the reef and its fishy inhabitants. From rising ocean temperatures to pollution, coral bleaching to ocean acidification, scientists predict this natural marvel will disappear in as little as 100 years.
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, and more than 80% of its rich plant life can’t be found anywhere else. Amazingly, less than 100 people visit its National Parks every year (we’re just as shocked as you). The island nation has lost almost 90% of its original forest due to a ‘slash-and-burn agriculture’ technique which has decimated the island’s natural habitats. Sadly, 23 of the country’s lemurs are already on the critically endangered list.
The frozen continent is thawing at an alarming rate. While it may be thousands of years until it disappears completely, there is an international effort in place that is trying to minimise the environmental impact of tourism to the area: for example, cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers to the ice sheets are no longer allowed to sail the straights. This picture alone proves that it’s a place worth saving.
‘The Door to Hell’ was set alight in 1971 after engineers feared it was emitting deadly gases. Almost 50 years later, its inferno continues to rage, drawing in a small bunch of adrenaline seekers each year. The government has not yet decided when they are going to put it out, but the place is certainly worth seeing before it’s extinguished for good.
This epic rainforest is home to a third of Earth’s flora and fauna. It’s also one of the very few places on the planet where you’ll find some of the world’s last unconnected indigenous tribes. Nicknamed the ‘Earth’s Lungs’, the entire jungle is under irreversible threat from deforestation. More than 40% of the Amazon has been destroyed by increased mining, industrial agriculture and illegal logging.
The most famous and luxurious skiing destination in Europe sits at a lower altitude than the Rocky Mountains, which unfortunately makes the entire range more susceptible to climate change. 3% of the glacial ice is lost every year and most experts agree that the glaciers will disappear completely by 2050 if more isn’t done to ensure their protection.
One word: paradise. The Seychelles is a collection of about 115 islands home to almost 90,000 citizens. Unfortunately, they are all in serious danger due to increased beach erosion and coral devastation. Some experts believe that the entire archipelago could be submerged in as little as 50 years.
This is the most visited glacier in North America. It stands a colossal 2.3 square miles and is part of the Great Columbia Icefield. Over the last 125 years, it’s southern edge has melted at an alarming speed, and most geologists believe that its rate of erosion could increase to about 9.8 feet a year if more isn’t done to protect it.
The ancient and salty Dead Sea is known the world over for its remarkable healing history – have you ever tried a dead sea face scrub? One word: fabulous. Experts believe this jewel of Mother Nature will vanish in 50 years due to neighboring nations drawing water out from the River Jordan, the sea’s primary source.
Yes, an entire US State is set to disappear – sort of. Due to rising global temperatures, the vast and desolate arctic tundra that covers the bulk of Alaska’s northern regions has led to the dramatic thawing of the region’s permafrost. As a result, scientists predict that thousands of polar species will die out, including grizzly and polar bears.
This beautiful part of Montana used to be home to 150 glaciers. Now, it has less than 25. Rapid climate change could see this number shrink to zero by 2030. Not only will this leave the park without a glacier, but it will also destroy much of its ecosystem.
If sea levels continue to rise, this go-to luxury travel destination could be completely engulfed by water within the next 100 years. The country’s 1,192 islands are disappearing so quickly that the government has already purchased land in neighbouring nations for citizens who face losing their homes.
Described by Charles Darwin as ‘a little world within itself’, these islands are truly nature’s crowning glory. From giant tortoises to beautifully diverse flora, these once secluded islands are under threat due to increased luxury tourism. Their demise would lead to one of the most catastrophic losses in the animal kingdom, which has prompted fierce debate amongst nations over the ethics of visiting the islands.