Earth Day: What Travel Destinations Might Not Be Saved

Today is “Earth Day,”  drawing focus on the environment and the effects of global warming.  While the focus on acting locally is important, some are making a tie to the “Think Globally” mantra.

An author from Denmark, Gaute Hogh, looked at what was happening in his homeland and was inspired to consider the impact on the global structure, including many travel destinations.  The result was his book, “100 Places to Go Before They Disappear.”

He paints his book under an assumption of what the world would look like following an average temperature increase of only a few degrees.  He concludes that Venice, Bangkok, London, Chicago, and New York would all suffer major flooding.  There is the potential of drought conditions in Sri Lanka (impacting the tea fields) and France, well-known for their wine production.

Beijing and Timbuktu could become deserts, and there is a risk of losing the coral colonies that comprise the Great Barrier Reef.  Entire nations could become uninhabitable, including Tuvalu, that could become submerged in the Pacific Ocean.

There is concern that the river Thames could overflow by 2025.  This would have a disastrous impact on London, and flooding could create losses of almost $50 billion, including damage to the city’s underground rail system.

“The whole purpose of this book was to show my children the effects of climate change,” Hogh told Yahoo! News in an interview yesterday. “People usually show someone suffering and I wanted to show the positive side of it: If we don’t do anything, we’ll lose some of these beautiful places.”

The location that started Hogh’s trek is the Wadden Sea, a coastal zone in Denmark.  Travelers can experience a “walk on water,” absorbing the local landscapes and migratory birds.

“One of my missions with the book is to show teenagers, if you don’t turn off the water or turn down the heat, these places will disappear.  They may say, ‘Why should I do this?’ But if I show them these pictures, they start to see it another way,” Hogh claims.

Hogh’s research relied on data from the 2009 United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel that has published controversial findings at times.  Along with his team, they researched divergent locations for the book.

Some of the most revered vacation stops on earth could be in danger.  The white sand beaches in Brazil, along with Buenos Aires and Montevideo, are under duress from ocean swell and the rising Amazonian rivers.  The habitat of several threatened and endangered species, including sea turtles, the La Plata dolphin, and the croaker (a drum-fish that croaks like a frog).

“For me, I don’t care whether the place is big or small,” Hogh says.  “It’s the same thing with people.  No matter if you’re black or white or Chinese or whatever.  It’s about treating each other with respect and it’s the same thing with these small islands.”

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