Saturday, May 28, 2016

Global Warming Threatens the World’s Special Places

Visitor boat dock damage from Sandy viewed from the Statue of Liberty's crown. (Credit: NPS Sandy Response/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
The most precious places on the planet are under siege by climate change.  From Venice being slowly consumed by the sea to rising temperatures stressing out Uganda’s famous gorillas, history and the natural world are facing a threat unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before.

On the eve of Memorial Day and the unofficial start to summer tourism season, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and the United Nations have put out a report chronicling the risks climate change poses to cultural and natural treasures around the planet.

The report looks at a handful of the 981 World Heritage Sites listed by UNESCO as having exceptional cultural or natural value.  In all cases, climate change is exerting pressures that could permanently alter some of the most spectacular places on earth unless carbon emissions are cut.

“We say we want to preserve these sites for the future of humankind, but unless we act, they will be destroyed by our own hands,” Adam Markham, the deputy director of the UCS climate and energy program who led the report, said.

It’s not just about losing places, either.  It’s about losing tourism dollars that are vitally important to the communities living around these places, particularly in developing countries.  Tourism accounts for 9 percent of the global GDP.  In the U.S., tourism to National Parks pumped $15.7 billion into local economies in 2014.

Read more at Global Warming Threatens the World’s Special Places

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