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Statue of Liberty and Venice among sites at risk from climate change, says UN - May 27th

Heritage Sites

Climate change now poses the single biggest threat to the world’s most famous heritage sites – including the Galápagos islands, the Statue of Liberty, Easter Island and Venice – according to a UN sponsored report.

The researchers looked at 31 natural and cultural world heritage sites in 29 countries that are vulnerable to increasing temperatures, melting glaciers, rising seas, more intense weather, worsening droughts and longer wildfire seasons.

The Statue of Liberty in New York is one of the sites at risk from rising sea levels and storms, illustrated by the devastating Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Global warming is raising sea levels and increasing the risk of floods, droughts and potentially fiercer storms, all of which can cause severe damage. The Galápagos islands, where Charles Darwin gained insights into evolution, and monuments and natural wonders from the port of Cartagena in Colombia to the Shiretoko national park in Japan, were also named as being under threat.

Other sites that bring in important tourism revenue could be particularly badly hit, such as Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable national park, where rising temperatures could affect the habitat of endangered mountain gorillas.

Stonehenge, the 5,000-year-old stone circle whose original purpose remains mysterious, is another of more than 30 major world heritage sites under threat from local flooding linked to global warming and increased rainfall.

Climate change is affecting world heritage sites across the globe,” said Adam Markham, the lead author of the report. “Some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost to the sea because of coastal erosion.” He also pointed to coral reefs, which have been bleached owing to higher temperatures, and the threat to wildlife living in the affected areas, as well as tourism, which is an important source of income helping to preserve many of the sites.

Scientists involved in the report said it was vital to limit global warming to no more than 2C, regarded by experts as the limit of safety beyond which climate change is likely to become catastrophic and irreversible. 

Read more here

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