5. Portobelo, Panama
Another from the list of UNESCO World Heritage in Danger sites, this coastal fort is considered to be a fine example of Panamanian military architecture, but it’s also crumbling. UNESCO described it as “deteriorating at a rate which could undermine the outstanding universal value for which it was inscribed” and called for the Panamians to urgently plan for its maintenance. A mix of neglect and erosion from the sea has endangered the fort and without some drastic action, it could well join the list of “things you should have seen while they were still there”.
Another icy place that is suffering under global warming, Greenland is losing ice at an unprecedented rate. It now loses 5 times as much ice per year as it did in 1992, so the land mass is quite literally disappearing. A report released last year by a combination of polar research teams tracked the ice loss so far, but did not attempt to forecast what was coming next. It doesn’t take a great deal of specialist knowledge to realize that the future looks pretty grim, though. One estimate says that a global temperature rise of 3C would cause the melting of the entire Greenland ice sheet, and this is not unlikely given that the 1990s were the warmest decade in the Arctic since records began, and most models predict a 5-7C increase over the 21st Century. So, to see what Greenland has to offer – including the famous Aurora Borealis – it’s best advised to head there pretty soon!
3. Great Barrier Reef
Another place that always gets into the list of places to visit because of its spectacular beauty and abundant colorful fish. It’s one of the most impressive sights in the world, but it is also in danger of disappearing altogether, thanks to pollution in the water. The ocean is becoming increasingly acidic, and increasing in temperature, which causes coral bleaching. The local cyclones also don’t help!
It’s estimated that 80% of the world’s coral will be lost by 2030, which is not very far away really! The Great Barrier Reef is estimated to have 100 years before it disappears, but for something 8,000 years old it’s a pretty bad life expectancy. So, it may last your lifetime, but it probably won’t last your grandchildren’s. Take them on a visit while you can.
2. The Maldives
A lot of countries have areas under threat, but it’s unusual for an entire country to be under threat. But that’s exactly what The Maldives are facing, with rising sea levels threatening to overwhelm the low-lying land. At only 2.3m above sea level in some parts, it’s highly likely to be submerged should the ocean levels rise significantly – in fact, after the tsunami in 2004, up to 40% of the Maldives were covered in water.
There have been a number of reactions to this impending catastrophe, from the President leading an underwater cabinet meeting in scuba gear, to the construction of a floating golf course. More seriously, there are also plans to start evacuating one of the most densely populated islands – Kandholhudhoo – and 60% of residents have volunteered to leave in the next 15 years. The government have also started buying land in other countries to house potential displaced residents.
In terms of tourism, it seems that the potential for visiting may be severely limited. Estimates say that there is another 100 years until the Maldives becomes uninhabitable, but that’s not considering the possibility of another major disaster. Book now, and get some rock-solid travel insurance.
Venice is one of the world’s most iconic cities – the city of love, of art and of stunning architecture. But all that might be gone very soon, as Venice continues to sink. It has sunk 9 inches in the last 100 years, and the sea level is rising by 4-6mm a year. In 2000, St Mark’s Square flooded 60 times, compared with less than 10 in 1900. Whichever way you look at it, the future doesn’t seem very bright. It could be gone in as little as 70 years.
There seemed to be hope in the early 2000s, when it was suggested that the subsidence was being caused by extracting water from below ground all the time. There was a brief time when stopping this seemed to help, but the decline continues. So, if you’re planing the ultimate romantic proposal, on a gondola during the Venetian night…you only have 70 years to organize it. Better get started!