By Nikki Bayley
Whether it's down to human-made pollution or the natural erosion of time and tides, some places in the world are facing a ticking clock when it comes to their future. According to the experts, the following places are due to disappear, so, here's a rather sad roll-call of some of the most spectacular places which are under threat.
One of the loveliest cities on earth, Venice is also said to be one of the most doomed. Thanks to an imperfect combination of the land sinking and the water levels rising. Venice has sunk by around 7cm a century for the past thousand years, but a report suggests that process has sped up and in the last 100 years, Venice has sunk by 24cm. Climatologists believe that Venice could be uninhabitable by 2100. The Italian government is committed to spending millions of schemes to help prop the city up and save it from the waves, however no scheme so far seems to have the answers.
The Great Barrier Reef
If you've ever watched 'Finding Nemo' and assumed that real life can't possibly be as bright as a cartoon, Australia's Great Barrier Reef will prove you wrong. It's simply astounding, the colours of the fish and the coral are hyper-real. However, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Great Barrier Reef, and the nearly $5 billion tourist industry built around it, could be “extinct” by 2050. This is due to climate change and pollution. A process called bleaching happens when the acidity of the ocean increases due to the absorption of carbon dioxide, which kills off the micro-organisms that make up the reef.
[See also: 10 places to see before you die]
The Dead Sea
It's the world's most salty body of water, famous for its healing properties and the fact that no matter how hard you try, you simply can't sink in its buoyant waves! However, the Dead Sea is under threat of draining dry. In 2006, according to the now ex-Jordanian Minister for Water and Agriculture, Hazem Nasser, "There is a declination in the level of the sea at about one metre every year." Jordan are lobbying for more water to be pumped into the Dead Sea from the Red Sea. The authorities say that unless nearly two billion cubic metres of water per year is pumped into the Dead Sea, it will disappear in 50 years time.
The Great Wall of China
Built around 2000 years ago to keep out the marauding hordes, the Great Wall of China is a dazzling man-made achievement. At its peak, the Great Wall reached 4,500 miles from South Korea to the Gobi desert. However, the World Monuments Fund has put the Great Wall on a list of the 100 most endangered structures and the Beijing Daily Newspaper reported that, "Around a third of the 2000-year-old structure is merely rubble and the same amount again has completely disappeared". Sandstorms are to blame for a more than 37-mile stretch of the wall being destroyed, although a great deal of the wall has been destroyed thanks to generations of farmers using the wall to build and repair their homes and farms.
The Amazon Rainforest
More than 20% of the world's oxygen is produced in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, which is why it's often described at the lungs of the planet. The Rainforest is one of the world's natural marvels, with more than half of the estimated 10 million species of plants, animals and insects on earth, living in its tropical forest. However, between May 2000 and August 2005, Brazil lost more than 132,000 square kilometers of forest—an area larger than Greece — and since 1970, over 600,000 square kilometres of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed. With de-forestation running at such a rapid rate, experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
Polar Bears in Canada
Canada's western Hudson Bay is famous for being the best place on earth to see Polar bears around the Churchill, Manitoba area. Sadly, those days could be numbered because of global warming. According to research from biologist Andrew Derocher and others from the University of Alberta, "the polar bears in western Hudson Bay have lost 25 percent of their population in the past three decades." Because of the loss of sea ice, the polar bears now spend three more weeks on land than they did three decades ago, during which time they are unable to hunt. According to calculations by experts, the western Hudson Bay polar bears could die out in 25 to 30 years.