It’s a common misconception that the Western World is immune to the climate crisis; that we can somehow pay our way out of it or that it’s not our problem. We often take a “last chance” attitude to travel destinations facing extinction rather than putting in the effort to prevent the location extinction in the first place.
Climate change and the new phenomenon of “over-tourism” are putting popular travel destinations at risk of extinction. Remember the queues on Snowdon back in August brought on by staycationers? Classic case of over-tourism putting the environment at risk of erosion, litter, and pollution. In fact, last year, there were 40% more tourists to Snowdonia than in 2018, having an undeniable impact on the natural environment.
So, where else could be taken off our travel bucket lists sooner than we think?
In the next 80 years you could be waving your ski resort holidays goodbye
The glaciers of the Alps are melting. Thanks to global warming, they could entirely disappear by 2100. The glaciers are decreasing in size by 3% each year, so in the next 80 years you could be waving your ski resort holidays goodbye.
Seasonal snowfall could also come to a standstill by 2100 if global temperatures continue to rise. This would leave only the highest ski resorts with snow to remain open.
Losing the Alps would mean much more than losing your winter breaks abroad though. The Alps provide spectacular views of glaciers and snow-capped mountains and many towns in the Alps rely on winter sport tourism.
We only have 100 years left of the Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
It is estimated that the Great Barrier Reef has halved in size since 2016.
As temperatures rise, coral begins to bleach and then die. Species living in the coral reefs can also only tolerate a certain level of heat. The Great Barrier Reef is host to thousands of species off the coast of Australia and is the largest reef in existence but could be lost without efforts to change our habits. It’s possible we only have 100 years left of the Great Barrier Reef in our lives; great for us now, but not so great for future generations.
As it turns out, rising temperatures and a slowly sinking, low-lying city are not a match made in heaven. Venice is flooding.
Floods used to be rare, but it’s now common occurrence in the city of Venice. Gondola rides and authentic gelato coupled with floods 100 times a year on average prove how Venice is not the dreamy city we may think it is.
Venice is at risk of sinking completely in the next century and recently it only narrowly missed joining UNESCO’s endangered list. Over-tourism and ships sailing through the city put Venice at risk of becoming an underwater city.
The once untouched paradise could become unrecognisable
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
On the other side of the world, UNESCO has named the Galapagos Islands as one of the most vulnerable places to climate change.
Their unique location puts them at risk to climate change. Faced with over-fishing and global warming, the once untouched paradise could become unrecognisable. Charles Darwin’s original discovery ground, the Galapagos Islands, is home to habitats threatened by tourists and coral reef bleaching.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth, 1380 feet below sea level. While it is an amazing statistic, it also puts it at risk of climate change more so than other areas.
Despite its stunning desert views and its legendary saline composition, the Dead Sea is shrinking at an alarming rate due to climate change.
Rising sea levels could make this Instagram influencer paradise uninhabitable by 2050, given that most land is a mere metre above sea level. There is no higher ground to run to in the Maldives, and those crystal-clear seas and white sand beaches could easily disappear.
Not all these destinations facing extinction are imminent threats, but without change, they could just be a fond memory of the good old days. No travel destination should have to be immortalised on social media alone.
This article is part of Impact Nottingham’s COP26 series. For more articles on the conference check out the link here.
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