Today’s most concerning environmental issues, like overpopulation, pollution and climate change, are taking a bigger toll than ever in regions across the globe. Unfortunately, some of the world’s regions most affected by human interference and climate change are also the most incredible.
This list groups together just some of the world’s wonders that are experiencing major changes. Soon these places will be permanently altered or even nonexistent, so if you’ve been longing to see glaciers up close, float in the famous healing waters of the Dead Sea, or steer through the Venetian canals in a gondola, you should do so soon before it’s too late.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s greatest natural wonder and the only living thing that can be seen from outer space, is in danger of destruction. The 133,000 square mile reef off the east coast of the continent could soon be unrecognizable, as water pollution, rising ocean temperatures, illegal fishing and other factors continue to take their toll. According to some, the reef could be irreparably changed in the next 20 years if drastic measures are not taken soon. Visitors and divers should take great care not to touch the fragile coral, as it’s easily damaged.
This beautiful tropical island nation is best known for its magnificent beaches and world-class diving—but the many travelers who have fallen in love with this destination and the locals that call this place home may soon have to leave. If sea levels continue to rise around the lowest-lying country in the world, with 80 percent of its land at less than 3.3 feet above sea level, the Maldives could be submerged in less than 100 years.
An island country famous for its spectacular biodiversity, Madagascar is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary places on the planet. Many of the plant and animal species native to the island can’t be found anywhere else on the planet, which makes the rampant deforestation, burning and excessive hunting that’s taking place even more concerning. Should these practices continue to damage the plant and animal ecosystems on the island, this region of the world will be forever changed.
Glacier National Park
The tenth most visited national park in the United States draws 2.3 million people a year, but that number is steadily increasing as more tourists try to get the last look at Glacier National Park’s receding glaciers. The park that was shaped by once-giant glaciers is now showing stark effects of climate change, said the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center (NOROCK). Once home to over 150 glaciers, the park is now down to just 25 glaciers, with some estimates that the park could lose all of its glaciers by 2030 – if not sooner.
Venice: the city of canals, gondolas and hundreds of bridges, known worldwide for its romantic, winding waterways. However, as it turns out, water could be the very thing to ruin this historic city. Venice has been sinking for centuries, but some evidence suggests the process is speeding up to sinking five times as fast as previously thought. Visit this romantic city soon, as the flooding – and the pollution – is reportedly getting worse.
The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea, famous for its salinity that makes swimmers especially buoyant, is now in danger of drying up completely. As neighboring countries continue to take water from the River Jordan, the Dead Sea’s only water source, the sea that is said to have healing properties has been losing more than three feet per year. As of today, the sea has lost a third of its water, and experts say there’s no sign of a feasible solution.