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10 world icons we’re losing to climate change

A new report from the United Nations paints a dire picture of the future of tourism if climate change continues at its current rate. By examining the conditions at a number of World Heritage Sites around the world (many of them iconic tourist destinations), the report shows how a hotter planet with more frequent extreme weather events is causing trouble, either now or in the future.

According to the report, "Sea-level rise, higher temperatures, habitat shifts and more frequent extreme weather events such as storms, floods and droughts, all have the potential to rapidly and permanently change or degrade the very attributes that make World Heritage sites such popular tourist destinations."

Here are some of the iconic sites around the world that climate change is posing a threat to:

The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Home to over 150 unique species, these islands are being threatened by increasingly frequent and severe El Niño events.

The Statue of Liberty, USA

"As solid and invulnerable as the Statue of Liberty itself seems, the World Heritage site is actually at considerable risk from some of the impacts of climate change – especially sea-level rise, increased intensity of storms and storm surges"

You 100% do not want to be hanging around here if a violent storm or flood damages this enormous statue.


The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The ongoing bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef's coral has been an impact of rising ocean temperatures, posing a significant threat to the biodiversity of this ecosystem. Unfortunately, what we are now seeing on the northern third of the Great Barrier Reef is the death of many of these beautiful organisms.

Shockingly, the removal of an entire section on the Great Barrier Reef from an international report on World Heritage and climate change has been justified by the Australian government because of the impact on tourism. Who's going to want to see a dead and bleached coral reef?


The canals and lagoon of Venice, Italy

Increasingly frequent flooding events experienced by Venice in the last 60 years continue to damage this iconic city and cause millions of dollars of damage to historic buildings, artworks, and to the foundations of the city itself.

Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent, but it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Sadly, the iconic "winter wonderland of ice and snow" will continue to dwindle thanks to a warmer climate. In addition, the ongoing issue of managing the rubbish left behind by climbers and other tourists will only become more of an issue as people rush to see the national park before it falls victim to even more climate impacts.

Angkor, Cambodia

Humans are impacting this site in more ways than one. Not only are warmer and wilder weather conditions posing a risk to fragile sites such as this one, but the never-ending stream of tourists (and the associated rubbish and physical damage they potentially bring with them) means that we might not have sites such as these around in the future.

Djenné Mosque, Mali

As well as being the centre of the community of Djenné, it is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa.

"Changes in temperature and water interactions are particularly important for earthen architecture, and many such sites – for example the Djenné mosque in Mali – are at risk from climate change."

Yellowstone National Park, USA

Rising temperatures, less snow and shorter winters are posing issues for this iconic national park and its animal and plant inhabitants. In addition, "More frequent and severe fires are likely to change forest dynamics and transform ecosystems and landscapes in the park."

Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Palau

"Infrastructure growth and physical damage to corals from poorly controlled diving and snorkelling are increasing the risk of degradation to Palau's marine habitats.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda


Home to around half the world's mountain gorillas, and a place of rich biodiversity and natural beauty, this national park is at risk from "alterations in habitat conditions and perhaps greater vulnerability of the animals to human diseases."

Read about the other endangered sites here

READ THIS NEXT: Should the government have a Department of Climate Change?

Images: United Nations and Pixabay

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