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Discovering Adventure: Natural Wonders to See

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Discovering Adventure: Natural Wonders to See

... before they can be seen no more

Twenty five million years is a fair old innings, but the news that the Great Barrier Reef has been pronounced dead by Outside magazine is terribly saddening. Scientists have responded that it is ‘just’ in a very bad way but what is certain is that UNESCO World Heritage Site #154, has suffered greatly at the hands of increased water temperatures, which in turn has caused coral bleaching.

We all know that greenhouse gases and global warming are a hot topic. Unfortunately it will most likely take a catastrophic event such as the barrier reef being lost, for us all to realise just how lucky we are to have so many natural wonders and that if we don’t start doing things a bit differently, more will follow and become lost forever.

Granted it's been nearly ten years since my visit to the reef, but my own memory of the Great Barrier Reef and that day is still clear as, well … day. It was my 24th birthday and after nearly 7 months on the road I was finally able to tick off one of my top bucket list items. It may have only lasted for one single afternoon, but my first and last experience of scuba diving – I have a certificate and everything – took place in one of the most magical of places on earth. It was like swimming through a giant underwater rainbow.

Great Barrier Reef Australia

Photo source: - 48722974@N07

Now that I am aware that one of my favourite travel experiences may not be an experience future travellers can take enjoyment from, I am becoming very much more aware of other parts of our planet which are also under threat and which if I or you do not see and experience soon, we might never get to experience. So here are a few of such wonders which are sadly under threat - and increasingly so as the planet’s temperature continues to rise.

Don’t miss your chance to take in what truly are natural wonders!

The Everglades National Park

The world’s largest swamp, spanning 2.5 million acres and home to a host of incredible wildlife species, perhaps most famously both crocodiles and alligators.

Sadly, this national park is now half the size it was back in 1900. The major threats to its existence are pollution from local farms, water which once fed the wetland now being redirected to local towns and cities - and development projects which have eaten up parts of the park.

Everglades National Park

Photo source: - lsiegert

Dead Sea

The lowest point on our earth, some 430 metres below sea level. It’s the sea which is famous for its high salt levels and resulting buoyancy, but the sea you cannot sink in is shrinking, and at an alarming rate of around 13 inches per year. The dead sea could soon be dead.

The cause? As with the Everglades above, water which used to feed the area is now being redirected and starving the area of that which it needs most. Former beach resorts now sit up to a mile from the water’s edge, looking somewhat out of place and losing visitors year after year.

Want your own version of the photo below? … you better do something about it and start making travel plans!

Dead Sea

Photo source: - inju

The Alps

It’s hard to imagine something so big just not being there anymore, but if current predictions are correct, a number of huge glaciers which make up a large proportion of the Alps, will all have vanished by 2050. Why?.. temperature change of course. In an article by CNN, renowned glaciologist Atsumu Ohmura is quoted as stating that "95% of the world's glaciers that are monitored currently are retreating. And it is happening so fast … It's 20 times faster than any natural temperature change before human beings became so active."

Swiss Alps

Photo source: - jimwhiteheaducsc

The Maldives

Ahhh paradise, but for how much longer?

The 1190 islands which make up The Maldives lie on average, just 2 metres above a sea level. But is 2 metres enough?… probably not. The chaotic climate change which our planet is currently feeling the force of could take another victim in the form of these paradise islands, as sea levels continue to rise 0.9cm per year.

Not all is lost though, president Gayoom was quick to sign his country up to the Kyoto protocol to fight global warming. In fact his was the first country to do so. He also sweet talked Japan into footing a bill of $60 million for a sea wall which now protects the capital of Male. The problem with such a wall is that Male is now somewhat less attractive.To build walls around more islands would safeguard the future of this nation, but could also drive away tourists and one of its biggest industries.

The future of The Maldives could lie in man-made islands, islands designed to survive such rapid rising of sea levels, but will it remain a paradise?

Maldives island reflection in sea

Photo source: - markhodson

The Amazon Rainforest

The world’s biggest tropical rainforest and home to millions of people, as well as an incredible number of rare animal and plants. Some of these animals and plants are tragically destined to die out as a result of the rainforest shrinking dramatically in size in recent years. By dramatic I mean 763,000 sq km type dramatic, or in other words a land mass the size of Germany … twice over!

A combination of illegal logging, drought and erosion are the major threats to the rainforest, and if the logging especially does not cease, the Amazon rainforest could one day be no more. For the first time in its history, carbon dioxide absorption by the Amazon rainforest has been surpassed by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America (study led by University of Leeds).

Now would be the ideal time to sign yourself up as a volunteer on an Amazon conservation project.

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest

Photo source: - cifor

The purpose of this article is firstly to encourage you guys to travel far and wide, so that you experience all that you can and take in those natural treasures which exist today, but which could also be gone tomorrow.

I also hope that it serves to remind us all that we should be travelling in the most responsible manner possible, and not taking the planet for granted. News this week that scientists have (accidently) discovered how carbon dioxide can be turned into green fuel is amazing and bodes well for the future of our planet. But we can still all be doing that bit more to help, starting of course at home and the turning off lights and appliances which are not being used. Travel wise, how many of you are offsetting the carbon dioxide emissions from your flights? I know I could certainly do more in that area!

Author: Neil Barnes travels the world on a budget whilst holding down a 9-5, read more about him on Backpacks and Bunkbeds

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