With so many stunning natural wonders in the world and a small number of vacation days in which to see them, there’s an argument to be made for prioritizing the places that might not be around in 40 years. Some of the planet's most awe-inspiring destinations are at risk of being destroyed or irrevocably altered by increased population, climate change, pollution, and ecological extinction. And it's not the just low-lying islands that are in danger of vanishing. From national parks in and to areas in , here are six other places you should visit ASAP before they’re gone.
Glamping in the wilderness of Alaska‘s tundra might be a warmer experience in the future, as climate change threatens to wreck the region’s inimitable landscape. As the snow and ice melt, spruces, shrubs, and other vegetation have taken their place, damaging the ecosystem and creating a drastically different environment. So, if you want to see Alaska as it has been for centuries, visit sooner rather than later.
Over the past century, Florida‘s Everglades have halved in size due to factors like urban development, intensive agricultural farming, and water diversion. And it’s not only the size of the Everglades that has shrunk — the number alligators here have decreased, too. Some believe this drop is partly the result of a drought that took place in 2001. Despite its problems, the national park remains to be one of the country’s most iconic areas of natural beauty, so visit while you have the chance.
Home to some of the last (and most mysterious) ruins of a lost Mayan civilization, Guatemala’s Tikal National Park offers an example of how easily the forces of nature can change the future of a place. Relentless illegal looting and forest burning plus the effects of weathering on the ancient temple’s soft limestone conspire to wipe away the remnants of a lost society whose structures have stood for thousands of years.
4. Great Barrier Reef
Spanning more than 134,000 square miles, the Great Barrier Reef is home to over 350 varieties of coral. It also happens to be the only living thing on earth that’s visible from space. Climate change, coral bleaching, and pollution, however, have killed around 25 percent of the coral and other marine life that relies on the ecosystem to survive. And while there’s conservation work being done to reverse the effects of bleaching, it might already be too late to save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Time is of the essence, so take an eco-friendly trip soon.
5. Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon rainforest, a species-rich area of staggering importance, is the world’s biggest forest and it’s being destroyed. And as deforestation continues, so do the chances of ever seeing the tropical wonder in a thriving state. In fact, if trends continue, one-quarter of the region will soon be without forests. In other words, now is the time to book an ethical, eco-tour of the place.
Venice, a city of culture, history, and cuisine, has its lagoon and canals to also thank for making it one of the most visited places in the world. But its watery home continues to stir alarm for its future. Rising tides are contributing to more frequent and severe flooding and the natural subsidence of the Venice lagoon is causing buildings to sink. Some experts say that in less than 70 years, some areas will be uninhabitable.
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