Where to next? Some will tell you to spin a globe and point, but we think this question begs some prioritization. Globalization is rapidly changing the world for better and for worse, and some corners of the world are facing the more unfavorable consequences more so than others. Some threaten to disappear within the century, and some within half a century, but we’ve distilled these 6 must-see locations that we are losing with each passing day.
The wooden foundations that make up the 118 small islands of Venice have been sinking for centuries, but newly rising sea levels have caused many to wonder how much longer the Floating City will still be able to claim that moniker. Already, dozens of times a year, we see people wading through thigh-high water at St. Mark’s Square and boats bobbing outside the famous cafes. A project to install a system of mobile floodgates is underway, but climatologists dispute whether these defenses will be enough to save the city.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Home to 2900 coral reefs, 600 islands and more than 1500 species of fish, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest structure made by living organisms and can be seen from outer space. This UNESCO World Heritage site remains one of the most biodiverse places on the planet for now, but the reef has lost about half of its coral coverage over the last 30 years as a result of increased tropical storms, coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Expiration Date: 2030.
Dead Sea, Israel/Jordan
It’s a cruel irony, but the Dead Sea is dying. Known for its high salt levels—allowing visitors to float without effort—and alleged curative properties, the sea has long attracted tourists and sunseekers from around the world. A mix of human and geological factors have contributed to the demise of this ancient sea, where the water levels are falling at a rate of around three feet per year. Watch out for the sinkholes if you do visit—around 1000 have emerged over the last 15 years.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park, with its 700 miles of hiking trails spanning alpine meadows and gorgeous lakes, may soon be facing a name change. Of the 150 colossal glaciers that existed in the national park 100 years ago, only 27 remain today. Scientists have given the surviving glaciers a lifespan of under 15 years. While these ice fields may be the world’s most imminently threatened, all other glaciers will surely follow: Alpine glaciers have been given until 2050, and 90% of Patagonia’s glaciers are thinning at an average rate of six feet per year.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Immortalized in Ernest Hemingway’s 1936 short story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the otherworldly, snow-capped summit of Africa’s highest mountain may soon only exist in writing. Kilimanjaro is one of the best climbs in the world for senior travelers, so be sure to catch it within 15 years before it’s forever changed. Scientists have found that 85 percent of the ice that covered the mountain in 1912 has now melted, and more than a quarter of the ice present in 2000 is no longer there.
Madagascar’s forests, along with their unique inhabitants, are predicted to exist for only another 25-30 years due to mass deforestation through logging, burning for subsistence farms, and poaching. The 20 species of lemurs for which Madagascar is renowned are in danger of disappearing, and some of Madagascar’s never-before-recorded species will likely be lost before they can be studied.
Other Touch-and-Go Destinations:
- Everglades National Park, Florida
- Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
- Bordeaux Wine Region, France
- The Maldives, Asia
- The Amazon Rainforest, South America