Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Tue February 23 2016

4 Places To Visit Before Climate Change Destroys Them Forever

Features & Advice | Barry Kaufman | February 23, 2016

4 Places To Visit Before Climate Change Destroys Them Forever

Illustration courtesy of Thinkstock

The facts, if you’re into that sort of thing, are staggering.

The National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration shows that the decade from 2000-2010 was the warmest on record. Environmental Protection Agency data shows a 1.4 degree F increase in global average temperature over the last century. Our oceans are getting warmer, more acidic and their levels are rising.

Treated as a political football for too long, the realities of climate change are only too real and their effects on the planet are already devastating. It’s already evident in the following four places. If you’ve ever wanted to see them, you’d better hurry up. It’s almost too late.

The Alps

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Stretching 750 beautiful miles across some of the most stunning terrain in Europe, the Alps have been on bucket lists for generations. From the majestic Mont Blanc to the twisting peaks of the Matterhorn, the Alps give skiing enthusiasts some of their most challenging slopes, and visitors a few priceless subjects for vacation photos.

Which is why it’s a pretty big bummer that they’re warming three times as quickly as the rest of the planet. It’s gotten so bad that the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development went so far as to outline a new business model for the Alps to embrace once ski tourism evaporates. Literally.

READ MORE: Will Climate Change Impact Your Flight Times?

The Great Barrier Reef

TravelPulse file photo

Listed second on Lonely Planet’s guide to the 10 best tourist attractions in the world last year, The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonderland for ocean lovers. Some 1,500 different species call the reef home, from tropical fish in a rainbow of colors to playful dolphins. Snorkeling, diving and even skydiving over the 3,000 different reef systems help make this one of those true bucket list experiences for globetrotters.

And they’d better check that off the bucket list quick, since 97 percent of it could possibly be lifeless, bleached rock by the year 2050. UN officials decided against considering the reef “in danger” last year after a preliminary report suggested otherwise, and the Australian government has enacted what it calls its “2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan” to keep the site from falling under a similar designation from UNESCO.


Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The great frozen frontier of Alaska offers a wealth of possibilities to the adventurous traveler. Its rugged terrain is the perfect backdrop for a boat tour among fjords and breaching whales, aerial tours over craggy mountains, and hikes through pine forests of unimaginable beauty. Plenty of travelers seek out that destination where they can truly unplug and embrace the wonders of nature at the edge of the world, and Alaska offers it all.

Just don’t plan any visits to the town of Newtok, since it could very well be underwater by the time you read this. This small town was hit by a one-two punch: rising sea levels drew the banks of the nearby Ninglick River right up and into people’s homes, while the permafrost the town was built upon has started to melt, causing the whole town to sink. According to a report in the Atlantic illustrating the plight of Newtok, Alaska is warming at an exponentially higher rate than the lower 48, with average winter temps climbing 6.3 degrees over the last 50 years.

READ MORE: Caribbean Officials Outline Climate Change's Growing Threat to The Region


The sheer diversity of environments, paired with an exotic atmosphere and a compelling price tag, have helped Vietnam create a rich trade in tourism. Cycling tours along rice paddies, relaxing beach vacations along some of the most beautiful and secluded stretches of sand in the world — Vietnam has started reaching out beyond the adventurous backpacker set and establishing itself as one of Southeast Asia’s must-visit sites.

Yet the low-lying splendor of this exotic paradise have also made it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. A report from the International Centre for Environmental Management predicts that sea levels will rise in Vietnam by as much as a foot over the next 15 years. This rising water level will be particularly harmful along the Mekong Delta, where a one-meter rise could displace as many as 7 million people.


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.