The world cannot stop mourning over the loss of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef ever since a tongue-in-cheek obituary was published in Outside Magazine titled “Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016),” by the writer Rowan Jacobsen. One of the seven natural wonders, stretching more than 2,000 kilometres may not be dead, but it is perishing at a dangerously faster rate. The future of World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef along the Queensland coastline hangs in the balance as scientists and conservationists are trying their best to avert the worst case scenario.
One of the primary reasons why the fake news of Great Barrier Reef’s death shook us to the core is because the thought of something as old as 25 million years disappearing from the face of the earth is profoundly heartbreaking. Just imagine about your dream trip of visiting the Himalayan ranges till reality hits you with its no existence. Yes, that bad is the impact of global warming and still some world leader calls the climate change a farce.
Apart from the ancient ocean jewel, there are numerous other natural wonders which are under constant threat of extinction. From mountain tops to ocean beds to dense forests, alluring existences on the planet are gradually losing the battle against climate change. The glaciers are receding, sea levels are rising, and forests are mercilessly cut down to accommodate growing needs. Let us take a look at few endangered natural wonders around the world which you should be visiting right now before they are dead.
1. Dead Sea, Israel
Dead Sea present on the map bordering Israel, the West Bank and Jordan is renowned for its unique features. The world’s saltiest water body is the lowest point on earth at an elevation of approximately 400 meters below sea level. While it does not support marine life barring few bacteria due to its salinity, it cannot escape the developmental pressures. With the water levels are dropping at a rate of more than one meter per year and the Dead Sea losing more than 1/3rd of its surface area, some believe the largest saline body would disappear completely with the next century.
2. Amazon Rainforest, South America
According to the WWF, “The Amazon is a vast region that spans across eight rapidly developing countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.” It is home to one in 10 of all known plant and animal species on the planet. Considered to be ‘Lungs of the Earth’, Amazon Rainforest’s destruction is the primary reason behind global warming. At 7.5-million square kilometres in size, the Amazon region encompasses the world’s largest rainforest and river basin which provides the highest source of absorption of carbon dioxide. As it recedes, there is an upsurge in greenhouse gases leading to the climate change.
3. Everglades, Florida
The impact of climate change and unsatisfying human needs continues to thwart the natural wonders be it the South American Amazon region or Everglades located in United States of Florida in North America. The delicate wetland which is home to numerous flora and fauna is pushed to the brink resulting in several species counting their days on earth. The American Alligator, The Florida Panther, Orchids, Manatee and birds like snail kite, woodstork, woodpecker and bald eagle feature in the endangered species list.
4. Cape Floral Region, South Africa
One of the six floral kingdoms in the world, the Cape Floristic region is located at the south-western extremity of South Africa. Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004, it is blooming with 6,200 endemic plant species. The highest concentration of plant species in the world with reasonably high animal species diversity is not untouched by the impact of climate change and rapid urban development.
5. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro is a major climbing destination. The dormant volcano in Tanzania at 5,895 meters is a hot spot for travellers for the ice cap in its summits, Kibo. But with the ice caps diminishing at an accelerated rate, and reports suggesting Kilimanjaro has lost almost 85 percent of the ice cover, travelling to Africa’s tallest peak looks like a distant dream.
6. Yangtze River Basin
Yangtze River of China is the world’s third longest river. Boasting of highest levels of biodiversity, Yangtze is abode of charismatic species. But China’s ambitious plans of $24 billion Three Gorges Dam are casting major irreplaceable danger to both marine and animal life. Deforestation leading to land slides are not hurting this once natural habitat to many animal and plant species.
It is disheartening to see our dream destinations feature on the endangered list. There are various other recurring names in this list like snow-clad mountains like the Alps in Europe, biodiversity land Congo Basin, countries like Philippines or cities like Venice under the constant threat. We hope we learn our lessons sooner than later because as antagonist Bertrand Zobrist, from recently released Hollywood thriller Inferno said – ‘a minute to midnight’, that moment that’s frighteningly close to the extinction of the human race.