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Great Barrier Reef
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

8 wonders of the world that climate change could destroy

Global warming is transforming the world as we know it. Here are the natural and man-made landmarks most at risk

Written by
Ed Cunningham
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Over the centuries, plenty of earthly wonders have been destroyed. Some have been toppled by natural disasters like earthquakes or volcanoes, others have been shattered by conflict. Plenty more still have been devastated by the slow march of time itself.

But right now we face the rapid destruction of several wonders of the world by a phenomenon that is entirely our own fault. Climate change is the most severe threat currently facing the planet, and it’s set to transform the world as we know it. 

In 2020, the IUCN World Heritage Outlook warned that 7 percent of all natural wonders faced ‘critical’ threat due to the climate crisis, and that 30 percent were of ‘significant concern’. And of course, there are plenty of man-made wonders under threat, too: some of our most phenomenal creations might not make it to the end of the century. 

Global warming causes ice caps to melt and sea levels to rise, but that’s only one of the threats faced by tourist destinations around the world. Climate change will also cause droughts and wildfires, with entire ecosystems likely to collapse. Here are eight wonders of the world that are most at risk from extreme weather conditions right now.

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Wonders of the world that climate change could destroy

Everglades National Park
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

1. Everglades National Park

By 2050, Florida’s famously flat Everglades might be unrecognisable. The freshwater ecosystem is already delicately balanced, but rising sea levels could lead to greater concentrations of saltwater, disturbing both the natural habitat and its inhabitants, from mangrove forests and orchids to alligators and storks.  

Great Barrier Reef
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

2. Great Barrier Reef

Since 1985, half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has already disappeared. Rising water temperatures have bleached the coral and increased the number of invasive species, while storms and other abnormal weather events are also devastating it. Should climate change continue at its current rate, one of the most biodiverse environments on earth could find itself irreversibly damaged – or even worse, totally destroyed.

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Victoria Falls
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

4. Victoria Falls

By contrast with the Everglades, Victoria Falls, on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border, isn’t threatened by too much water – instead, it’s in serious danger of running completely dry. Back in 2019 a drought caused the falls to become barely a trickle: a taster of what could happen should climate change worsen and catastrophic weather events get even more frequent.

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Kilwa Kisiwani
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

5. Kilwa Kisiwani

This World Heritage Site in southern Tanzania contains the ruins of ancient Kilwa Kisiwani, which was once a Swahili city-state. But perhaps unsurprisingly considering the area’s long and rich trading history, they also sit low and close to the coast, with the walls already being eroded by rising sea levels.

Glacier National Park
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

6. Glacier National Park

In the nineteenth century, Montana’s Glacier National Park contained 150 glaciers, but these days there are only 25. With temperatures rising, the remainder might disappear as soon as 2030. And they aren’t the only ice patches in full retreat – similarly seismic events are occurring all over the world, from Greenland and Antarctica to Patagonia, the Alps and Mount Kilimanjaro.  

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Borneo’s rainforests
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

8. Borneo’s rainforests

Deforestation worsens global warming, and global warming in turn destroys biodiversity (and causes greater likelihood of wildfires). Those are the twin threats being faced by Borneo and its rainforest, which is being wrecked by logging, plant oil plantations and wildfires. The WWF says that two degrees celsius of global warming may be enough to completely devastate Borneo’s wild habitats. Considering the island contains a whopping 6 percent of all global biodiversity, that’s very worrying indeed.

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