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

fish reef orange photo

Photo credit: TravelBlog

There's a new kind of eco-tourist on the prowl, one who seeks out the places and experiences threatened by global warming: the climate tourist. The following seven popular tourist destinations may not be the world's most endangered ecosystems, but they all have one thing in common: a particular attraction--be it reefs or snow or beaches--under assault. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Maldives, visit these 7 destinations that are rapidly becoming less alluring vacation spots before climate change takes its toll.

1. Great Barrier Reef

According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, climate change is the greatest long-term threat to the Australian reef's survival. Coral bleaching has begun to increase in frequency and severity due to rising sea temperatures, and 5 percent of reefs in the Great Barrier Reef were severely damaged during both the 1998 and 2002 mass-coral bleaching events. Projections of future water temperatures suggest coral bleaching could become an annual event in the course of this century. As the reef dies, other organisms, like killer starfish, move in. By 2050, scientists say, the reef could be dominated by "non-coral organisms."

2. Maldives

maldives photo
Photo credit: Tour Genius

With pristine beaches and rich coral reefs, the Maldives has long been an alluring option for sun-loving tourists. But like many small island nations, the Maldives is highly vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise in particular. Some 80 percent of its 1,200 islands are less than three feet above sea level: In as little as 100 years, the Maldives could become completely uninhabitable. The good news is the country is also working to become a role model in environmental management and climate response.

3. Florida's Everglades

everglades destination photo
Photo credit: Making Life Better The Everglades are the greatest subtropical wilderness in North America. They are also on the brink of changing forever. With a multitude of ecosystems--from pinelands and sawgrass prairies to hardwood hammocks and cypress swamps --the Everglades harbors dozens of endangered or threatened species, including the vanishing Florida panther. But sea-level rise will make the Everglades' swamps, marshes and lakes more vulnerable to storms and flooding. The anticipated two- to three-foot rise in sea level over the next 100 years will cause salt water to flow 10 miles or more inland into the Everglades, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Discover more popular tourist destinations to see before it's too late on page 2.

Related Content on Treehugger.com