These 7 Wonders of the World Are Under Threat
Things aren’t going to well in the world of global warming. We’ve made a bit of a mess of our wonderful planet and, if truth be told, we’re not really doing enough to make things right. We need to start, and start soon, or these landmarks are going to need a snorkeling mask!
1) The Moai of Easter Island
Even if you don’t know the local name of these giant stone heads, you’ve probably seen them (or a plastic version of them) on TV or at a friend’s vaguely tropical cocktail party.
The 2,000-year-old faces were built by the Polynesian peoples who originally settled the island, which they called Rapa Nui.
But the effects of climate change — notably, sea-level rise and coastal erosion — are already in progress on the tiny, remote island.
Huge, violent waves buffet the ancient statues, damaging their stone bases. If they get too damaged, they could topple over.
2) Sydney Opera House
Australia’s Sydney Opera House may be a newer item on the list of World Heritage Sites, but it’s already being threatened by sea-level rise.
Though only 43 years old, UNESCO calls the building a “great architectural work of the 20th century.”
But the opera house stands just 11 feet above sea level, and the building’s support structure could be undermined by rising seas and increased salt content.
3) The Elephanta Caves
Off the western coast of India is Elephanta Island, which harbors a major archaeological site — the Elephanta Caves.
The sculptures and carvings, thought to be around 1,500 years old, are among “the most perfect expressions” of Indian art, according to UNESCO.
The main cave holds a 23-foot-tall representation of the Hindu god Shiva in three aspects — Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer.
The caves are already under pressure from monsoons, litterbugs, graffiti, nearby industry, water seepage, and the ravages of time. Global warming of just 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and the rising seas that come with it, would threaten the cave.
We’re already on track to reach that amount of warming, and possibly exceed it. Average sea levels worldwide could rise by three feet or higher by 2100.
Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France, is a medieval town perched on a small, rocky island in the middle of a muddy bay, crowned by a medieval abbey.
When tides are high, the island is inaccessible. But at low tide, tourists and pilgrims trek across the mudflats to the town.
But Marzeion found that just 2.8 degrees of warming would put the base of Mont-Saint-Michel underwater.
5) The ruins of Leptis Magna
The port of Leptis Magna in Libya was one of the crown jewels of the Roman Empire.
The 1,000-year-old city is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the world and houses the remnants of several civilizations, from the Berbers to Byzantium.
But the venerable port town sits on the Sert Bay of Mediterranean Sea, which could see 3 feet or more of sea level rise in the coming century.
But climate change isn’t the only danger for this marvel of the ancient world. Located in Homs, Libya, an ongoing civil war could do untold damage to the site.
6) Sun Temple at Konark, India
Across the Indian subcontinent from Elephanta Island is another ancient site under siege: The 800-year-old Sun Temple on India’s west coast.
UNESCO calls the elaborate sanctuary as a “masterpiece of creative genius,” and was constructed by 1,200 artisans over 12 years.
Piyal Kundu/Wikimedia Commons VIA CC 3.0
The town of Konark, however, sits just 7 feet above sea level. The collapse of just one ice sheet would overwhelm the incredible religious site.
7) The Statue of Liberty
Gifted by France to the US on the 100th anniversary of independence, Lady Liberty has stood in New York Harbor for 130 years.
The site may not be as old as some the others listed here, but its mark on the US cultural landscape is indisputable.
UNESCO calls it “a masterpiece of colossal statuary.” Sculptor Frederic Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel — yes, that Eiffel — collaborated on the 151-foot-tall statue.
However, like much of New York, rising waters mean deep trouble for this paragon of engineering. Three feet of sea-level rise could lead to a “cascade of effects,” according to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.
Source: National Park Service