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."
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.