7 Popular Tourist Destinations to See Before it's Too Late

4. Athens

Photo credit: Planet Ware

As one of the oldest cities in the world with an incredible array of architectural monuments, Athens has a lot to offer history and art buffs. Unfortunately, the temperature rise may be happening in the Mediterranean faster than anywhere else, diminishing Athens' appeal to visitors. "Athens will become decidedly uncomfortable" by 2020, with summer temperatures soaring above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) and smog a concern, according to the Centre for Future Studies. In June 2008, a weather station in Athens measured the highest temperature ever recorded there, nearly 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Overall, temperatures for the summer months were about 5 degrees warmer than average, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

5. The Alps

Photo credit: snow.barratt.com.au

Better hit the slopes at one of the most popular ski spots in the world before it's too late: A 2007 report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) indicates the years 1994, 2002, and 2003 were the warmest on record in the Alps in the past 500 years. Among the most vulnerable areas: low-altitude ski-resorts, notably in the Eastern Alps, such as Kitzbühel in Austria. There are now 609 naturally "snow-reliable" Alpine resorts in Europe, according to the OECD. But with just one degree Celsius (1.8 degree Fahrenheit) rise in temperature, that would drop to 500 resorts with good snow and to 404 with a two degree Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) rise.

6. Churchill, Canada

Photo credit: Polar Bears International

Melting tundra ice and the plight of the polar bear helped transform a tiny Canadian town on Hudson Bay called Churchill into the 'polar bear capital of the world.' Here tour operators lead trips to see the 900 polar bears in the area in October and November, when they hunt for seals on the frozen bay waters. Almost 10,000 people visit Churchill each year, according to Polar Bears International, arriving via tundra buggies or helicopter. As the weather grows cooler, polar bears move towards the coast expecting the sea ice to return to the bay. But as the ice retreats, the bears now spend more time on shore, away from their prime food source, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Meaning, each year more and more polar bears are starving to death.

7. Yulong Mountain, China

Photo credit: english.cri.cn

The glacier on Yulong Mountain is one of the most important attractions in the province of Yunnan, China. Yet it has receded by 150 meters (nearly 500 feet) in the space of 16 years--from 1982 to 1998--due to global warming. This will likely affect tourism in Yunnan. The mountain consists of 19 glaciers and 13 peaks, among which Shanzidou is the highest with an altitude of 5,600 meters (18,360 feet). Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, part of Yulong, is a sanctuary for rare animals and wild plants. One quarter of all plant species in China can be found here, and 20 primeval forest communities shelter a family of 400 types of trees and 30 kinds of animals protected by the state. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, states China Travel Guide, is a scenic spot for sightseeing, mountaineering, skiing, exploration, and scientific research.

More on Endangered Tourist Destinations
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5 Things You Must Do When Eco-Touring in Fragile Ecosystems
To Tour or Not to Tour--Should An Environmentalist Visit the Galapagos?

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