An alarming new report finds that climate change is a major threat to several of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. From mountains, jungles, cedar forests and ice fjords to towns, ports, beaches, ruins and statues, no site is safe from the wide-ranging impacts of man-caused climate change.
Released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Environment Program and the Union of Concerned Scientists, the report identifies 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites across 29 countries that are vulnerable to a range of climate change-related impacts, from increasing temperatures, melting glaciers and rising sea levels to extreme weather events, intensifying droughts and more frequent and more severe wildfires.
“Climate change could eventually even cause some World Heritage sites to lose their status ,” said Adam Markham, lead author of the report and deputy director of the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.
Tourism, one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors, will likely be affected by the dramatic changes expected at these sites, and so will the local communities that depend on that tourism. At stakes are billions of dollars in both conservation expenses and tourism revenue. But tourism and climate are engaged in a vicious circle, as the report’s authors stress that tourism itself is set to contribute an even greater amount to climate change.