Travel Because Nothing Lasts Forever
Depressing sentiment right? On Wednesday an iconic arch on the Malta coast called "Azure Window" on the island of Gozo collapsed and disappeared into the sea during a powerful storm. Jutting off the coast, it was one of the country's most recognizable landmarks, featured in movies and HBO's Game of Thrones, not to mention countless visitor photos. It was a stark reminder of how quickly the tourism landscape (both literally and figuratively) can change and why it is important not to put off those travel dreams.
There are many reasons not to put off travel (health, age, family) but one reason often less considered is climate change. Climate is an essential resource for tourism, and actually a "draw" for many destinations - especially for beach, nature, winter and water sports tourism. Think Alaska, Glacier National Park, Great Barrier Reef, the Maldives... Changing climate and weather patterns in these destinations may permanently alter those landscapes over the next few decades if current warming trends persist.
The lowest lying country in the world, the Maldives is built on the planet's most endangered ecosystem, coral reefs, the smashed fragments of which make up all those glorious sandy beaches. Not only are higher sea levels threatening to overrun the shallow islands of this country, but rising sea temperatures and the acidity of the ocean are "bleaching" and threatening to kill the corals - a major draw for divers and snorkelers. Bleaching happens when a coral is stressed from a variety of factors, including poor water quality due to pollution and more frequently warmer oceans. Globally, reef cover has dropped by half over the last 30 years, according to a WWF report last year.
Montana's Glacier National Park offers another of the most vivid examples of the impact of climate change. The park is expected to be "glacier free" by 2030 if the current trends continue. There are countless other examples - Amazon Rain Forest, Antarctica, the Arctic, the Galapagos - all nature and wildlife treasures under threat; whose landscapes are being irrevocably altered daily by both natural and man-made climate change. Traveling responsibly to these areas to see these natural wonders reinforces the importance to both the traveler and host communities of the need to keep such areas pristine for future generations.
Travel responsibly. Travel now!