Old Town Lunenburg, Canada
Old Town Lunenburg is a historic city on the Southern coast of Nova Scotia. It is considered by the UN to be the “best surviving example of a planned British colonial settlement in North America.” Its coastal location landed Old Town Lunenburg on a list of 31 UNESCO world heritage sites at risk of being damaged or destroyed by climate change. This city is particularly vulnerable to rising waters in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mesa Verde National Park
Rangers at Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado believe that the temperature fluctuations brought about by climate change are chipping away at some of the nation’s oldest cultural artifacts. The park is home to cliff dwellings built by the indigenous Pueblo people at least 700 years ago. As climate change leads to hotter high temperatures and cooler lows, the freezing and thawing may be causing the dwellings to chip and break off piece by piece. These sites have also seen a recent wave of wildfires, which have damaged artifacts like pottery.
Unlike many of the other entries on this list, Greenland’s reputation as a tourist destination may actually improve as a result of climate change. The country is mostly ice — 80% of Greenland is covered by a two-mile thick ice sheet, the second largest behind Antarctica’s ice sheet. Greenland has experienced spikes in temperatures and ice melt during the summer of 2019, which may make it a more pleasant place to live, but could also be a worldwide catastrophe if this trend continues. Greenland has enough ice to raise global sea levels 24 feet — even a fraction of that could alter the world forever.
Climate change is a major threat to coastal areas, as melting ice will likely raise global sea levels and lead to flooding. But shifting temperatures are heavily influencing life under the sea as well. A UN report found that the Wadden Sea — the water just north of Germany and the Netherlands — could suffer a massive disruption in its ecosystem. Rising temperatures could make plankton more scarce, depriving the food chain there of one of its key links.
The Maldives is one of the nations that is most vulnerable to sea level rise. A UN report said that the vast majority of its land area is less than a meter (3 feet) above sea level. These islands off the southern coast of India are a popular destination, but climate change is already cutting into the tourism industry. Nearly half of all tourist resorts have experienced “severe beach erosion”.