|Galapagos/Photo by: RenHo/ iStock /Getty Images Plus/ Getty Images|
by Jolyon Attwooll and travel writer, The Daily Telegraph, August 23, 2016
The residents of a small Alaskan village have voted to abandon their ancestral home to the rising seas, becoming possibly the first US settlement forced to relocate due to climate change.
But this isn't an isolated case. All around the world, destinations are under threat from urbanisation, global warming or simple human neglect. These bucket list regulars may soon be destroyed – so if you are planning a trip, do it soon but make sure you travel responsibly. They could be gone in just a few generations.
According to scientists, 93 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef – which attracts 1.9 million tourists per year – has been devastated by coral bleaching.
“It is in grave danger,” warned Sir David Attenborough in his 2016 series Great Barrier Reef. “The twin perils brought by climate change – an increase in the temperature of the ocean and its acidity – threaten its very existence. If they continue to rise at the present rate, the reef will be gone in decades.”
2. Exploring Antarctica
At present, Antarctica remains the world’s last great wilderness – but it's not as untouched as you might hope. The change in just over a century has been dramatic. The official website of the Australian government’s Antarctic territory gives some indication of the changes wrought in just a few decades . It cites “harvesting some Antarctic species to the verge of extinction for economic benefit, killing and disturbing other species, contaminating the soils, and discharging sewage to the sea and leaving rubbish, cairns and tracks in even the most remote parts.”
"Antarctica remains the world’s last great wilderness – but it's not as untouched as you might hope"
Want to make the journey? Book a small cruise and checking that your chosen operator is a member of IAATO (the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators), which has strict guidelines for safe and environmentally responsible operations.
3. Touching the snows of Kilimanjaro
Back in 1938, Ernest Hemingway published his short story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, set on the wintry slopes of this magnificent peak in Tanzania. In the decades since Hemingway's work appeared, the situation has changed irrevocably. In just a few years, nobody will capture pictures like the above.
More than 85 per cent of the ice cover on Africa’s highest mountain has disappeared, and it’s only a question of time before the rest melts away too. The latest prediction puts 2020 as the last time glacier ice will be there.
A photo posted by tzinyourpocket (@tanzaniainyourpocket) on Aug 18, 2016 at 12:30am PDT
Climbing the mountain is a wonderful challenge, as Telegraph writers have discovered over the years . But it won’t be the same when – and not if – the familiar icy crown is gone.
4. Delving into the mines of Potosí, Bolivia
The Cerro Rico mine was one of the Spanish government’s main sources of silver, and was exploited to help the Spanish crown pay off its debts. With such an influential role – along with the striking colonial architecture of the town attached – it has become a World Heritage site. Adventurous travellers can take a tour of one of the still working co-operative mines, which is said to be deeply moving and often still with dangerous conditions.
Too dangerous, says Unesco, which added the mines to its "in danger" list in 2014. It recommends “urgent and appropriate action... to protect human lives, to improve working conditions and to prevent further deterioration.”
5. Roaming Florida’s Everglades
The Everglades is a vast wetlands, where a bewildering array of wildlife thrives – including more than 350 species of birds. But it’s another place on the Unesco danger list . It’s not the first time: it has been on the list before, then taken off again.
Unesco highlights “nutrient” pollution causing “eutrophication, loss of marine habitat and a subsequent decline in marine species.” Environmentalists hope it’s just a temporary appearance again.
Florida's Everglades wetlands is on Unesco's danger listCredit: Galyna Andrushko/Galyna Andrushko
6. Trekking to the North Pole
The conquest of the magnetic north has almost become a rite of passage for some of the world’s most accomplished explorers. Yet, for future generations it may not be possible. In our great-grandchildren’s lifetime? The answer is almost certainly no. Sea ice, by most estimates, will not be at the true magnetic north by the summer of 2100. Polar exploration on foot – already very challenging – will be a whole lot harder.
7. Sailing around Kiribati, Pacific Ocean
In many ways, this should be a Pacific island idyll. Part of Micronesia, Kiribati has 33 coral islands, all atolls with central lagoons, with one exception. You can surf, birdwatch, scuba dive – and, slightly jarringly, take in the relics of one of the Second World War’s bloodiest battles.
There’s just one problem. The water is rising – fast. Authorities warn that the islands could be submerged before the end of the century. Currently there are 100,000 inhabitants, but when your own president suggests sea level rises are inevitable, and admits people are already being shipped off to New Zealand, then alarm bells should probably start ringing. If you want to see them before they’re gone, start planning soon.
8. Seeing the might of Columbia Glacier, Alaska
Much has been made of the retreat of the world's great glaciers – some of which may not be receding quite as rapidly as experts once predicted. One glacier undoubtedly shrinking at a very rapid rate, however, is the Alaska's Columbia Glacier.
It currently descends from mountains on Alaska's southern coast into bays of the Gulf of Alaska. Mini iceberg fleets have spilled into the adjoining bay as the glacier reduces in size. Scientists predict it will be just 26 miles long by 2020, and a shadow of its former size.
9. Watching polar bears in the Arctic
Getting up close to the world’s largest land predator is an unforgettable experience, but this mighty Arctic resident faces huge challenges if the northern hemisphere’s sea ice continues to melt. Already their patterns of behaviour are altering, as they reach land earlier in the summer. Melting ice will also make it harder for the bears to find seals, one of their main sources of food.
Will they adapt? With many disparate populations in very remote locations, the health of polar bear numbers is not easy hard to track. But over next few decades the picture will become clearer.
Polar bears' behaviour patterns have altered already, thanks to melting iceCredit: © All Canada Photos / Alamy Stock Photo/All Canada Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
10. Strolling around Venice
There are genuine concerns that Venice, Italy’s beguiling canal city by the Adriatic, may not be well shored up for the future. The city was put on the World Monuments Fund (WMF) list of places under threat, a list that includes Timbuktu, as well as cultural sites in Middle Eastern conflict zones, mainly due to the appearance of large cruise ships in its canals.
According to the WMF: “The large cruise ships have had direct and indirect impacts on flooding, because of dredging requirements and the movement of large ships through the Giudecca Canal.” It had seemed that a ban on large cruise ships would be enforced, but it was overturned in the Italian courts months after being instated .
That’s not the only problem concerning specialists. The city's buildings have been sinking – albeit very slowly – into the Adriatic and rising sea levels could make things worse.
11. Skiing the world’s most fearsome ski run (with real snow)
Kitzbühel is the resort with reputedly one of the world's most fearsome ski run, the Streif. But daring skiers may not be able to chance their hand for much longer – or at least not with "proper" snow. It is among the low-lying Alpine ski resorts whose long-term futures face the threat of rising temperatures – on average the warmest they have been for more than 1,000 years.
Kitzbuhel's snow is being lost to global warming
Back in 2003, a World Conference on Sport and Environment highlighted the Austrian resort as at one of those most at risk. Since then, it has continued to receive snowfall, sometimes heavy in some years, but less consistently than before – and the reliance on expensive artificial snow only looks likely to increase in the future.
12. Tiger watching in the wild
One of the world’s most endangered animals, the tiger arguably captures the imagination more than any other big cat. All species of the animal are under threat, mostly due to the devastation of its habitat.
93 per cent of their historic range has been destroyed, according to the WWF, with a terrifying drop in tiger numbers in the past century (by almost 97 per cent). There are now only around 3,000 in the wild - a bigger number, reportedly, is kept in captivity in Texas alone.
13. Sunbathing in the Maldives
The Maldives is a paradise in peril. Back in 2009, the then president of the Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed held a press conference underwater to highlight the dangers faced by his country. Although some dispute how real the danger is, there is no doubt that if sea levels did rise, the low-lying Maldives ( maximum height just over 5m ) would be one of the the nations most at risk.
14. Exploring the Galápagos Islands
These may be extraordinarily remote, but they remain one of the world’s best known and most sought-after travel destinations. Darwin’s finches and the Galápagos giant tortoise are just two of the many species that make this one of the world’s great wildlife destinations.
However, each year more than 170,000 tourists head out to the tiny archipelago – and the strain is beginning to show. As Mark Cawardine writes: “It’s beginning to feel a little crowded. It’s a high-profile place and lots of people want to see it for themselves.”
Blue footed boobys – one of the natural treasures of the Galápagos IslandsCredit: BlueOrange Studio - Fotolia/Alexander Shalamov
Numbers are still not capped, although Mark says in his guide to visiting the islands, that limits should arrive in “the not-too-distant future”. There’s also the threat of rising water temperatures, which are bleaching coral and reportedly causing the deaths of marine species, as well as pollution and illegal fishing.
This article was written by Jolyon Attwooll and travel writer from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.