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7 Captivating Destinations Threatened by Climate Change

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7 Captivating Destinations Threatened by Climate Change
All over the world, some of the coolest and most beautiful places are in danger of sinking, melting, or disappearing completely. Some will vanish by the end of the century; others may be gone as soon as two or three decades from now. “Climate change isn’t just a future problem,” says Jeremy Hoffman, Climate and Earth Science Specialist at the Science Museum of Virginia, “We’re already seeing the effects.” He uses an example from his own backyard: In Norfolk, Virginia, people use tide-gauge apps on their cell phones to decide whether or not it’s safe to drive to church. Twenty years ago, recurring flooding wasn’t a problem and no one had to worry that their cars were going to float out of the parking lot while they said their prayers. Such disturbing weather patterns have sparked concern all over the world, leading to the Paris Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, and other initiatives aimed at combating climate change. But as we work to mitigate the negative effects of climate change, here’s a list of seven endangered spots to visit now, before we lose these “vanishing destinations” altogether.
By Diana Spechler
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    1. The Arctic
    “The Arctic is warming at least twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet,” says Erica Dingman of Arctic in Context. This news has far-reaching ramifications: Not only does melting sea ice harm the local habitat in the Arctic, but it also impacts temperatures and fishing industries the worldwide. The situation has gotten so dire that travelers can sail right through previously frozen waters: “It used to be hard to sail in the Arctic because of sea ice,” Hoffman says, “but now there’s so much less, that we can take boats through the Northwest passage in the summertime.” The passage became ice-free for the first time in 2007. You can join one of these month-long expeditions that take the long route from Alaska to New York during the summer. Or if you don’t have the time but you still want to experience the Arctic, you can go reindeer-sledding in Norway, see the northern lights, and indulge in the utterly unprocessed cuisine of the indigenous Samis: blood pancakes, cloud berries, and sour cream porridge.
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    2. Maldives
    The Maldives, a chain of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean, is the world’s lowest country, which makes it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. In an effort to raise environmental awareness, the local government has committed to making the Maldives a carbon-neutral country by 2019. Luckily, that eco-friendly mindset has seeped into the culture in inspiring ways. You can fly to the Maldives on the sustainable Cathay Pacific Airlines (the carpets on its new planes are made from repurposed nylon material from recycled carpets and fishing nets retrieved from the ocean). Stay at an environmentally responsible luxury resort like Baros, a private island of 75 secluded villas equipped with low-consumption air-conditioning, heating, and lighting systems, as well as a spa in a tropical garden irrigated by recycled water. There’s a resident yogi teaching private and group classes, and at night, experience a different side of the natural surroundings on a glow-in-the-dark snorkeling trip.
    Courtesy of Baros
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    3. The Swiss Alps
    As the glaciers in the Swiss Alps melt—and they are melting—the threats of devastation from landslides, mudslides, and avalanches, are increasing. The rapidly shrinking Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in the Alps, has lost .81 miles of its length since 1980. But you can get up close and personal while it’s still a wonderland of snow and ice. Ride the cogwheel train up the nearby Jungfrau mountain to Europe’s highest train station, Jungfraujoch, or the “Top of Europe,” which is situated more than 11,000 feet above sea level. Check out the ice sculptures at the Ice Palace, learn about Swiss chocolate at Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven, eat the most delicious raclette around at Restaurant Crystal, or just stand surrounded by snow and take in the Instagram-envy-inducing view of Aletsch.
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    4. Glacier National Park
    You don’t have to cross oceans to see ice melting: In the 1800s, Montana’s Glacier National Park was home to 150 glaciers. Today we’re down to 25. “As temperatures get warmer and snow decreases, glaciers melt, and they don’t grow back during winter,” Hoffman says. “In other words, they’re shrinking.” Hiking is a great way to take in the views of the remaining glaciers at the national park, and biking—although more dangerous on the trafficked mountain roads—allows you to cover more ground. Lauren Alley of the National Parks Service recommends visiting during shoulder season when tourism dies down significantly. If you want to feel as though you’re camping without actually camping, stay at Many Glacier Hotel. The largest hotel in the park was partially renovated last year, but the 100-year-old lodge maintains a rustic charm and an old-timey vibe: no TVs, no air conditioning.
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    5. Miami
    According to a study released this month in Nature, more than 2.5 million residents of Miami may eventually be forced to flee the city. “A large part of the multi-million-dollar infrastructure, including beach-front condos, roads, and golf courses, is at risk of damage from rising sea levels,” Hoffman says. “These locations will probably be under water by the end of the century.” So hit the beach this weekend and make the most of Miami’s waterfront. Stay oceanside at the Palms Hotel & Spa, a resort with an “Inspired by Nature” program that acknowledges the necessity of eco-consciousness in Miami and does its part by reducing, reusing, recycling, and funding quarterly beach cleanups. Even the hotel’s dining program celebrates nature: You’ll eat meals or sip cocktails surrounded by exotic orchids and birds of paradise in the organic garden where chef Julie Frans sources seasonal produce and herbs for her garden-to-table menu at Essensia Restaurant.
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    6. Bali
    “As air warms up, it can hold more rain,” says Hoffman. “So in already-warm areas, like Indonesia, the rising temperature means more rain, and more rain means greater flood risk.” He mentions a 2007 flood in Jakarta, the country’s capital, which inundated 70,000 homes. Because Bali has the same rainy season as Jakarta, a similarly devastating flood could hit any time. So check out the stunning beaches, the Hindu temples, the rice paddies, and Bali’s famous monkey forest now. Treat yourself to a stay at the five-star beachfront resort Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua, where guests are invited to participate in the resort’s “green initiatives,” like planting seeds in the chef’s organic garden.
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    7. Mexico City
    Mexico City is sinking. Or more accurately, it’s collapsing in on itself. In the face of a perpetual drought, exacerbated by climate change, the city keeps drilling for water, which further weakens its foundation. The situation shows no sign of letting up, so visit this incredibly vibrant city now. Stay at CONDESAdf in the trendy La Condesa neighborhood, where the rooftop bar gives you a view of the Chapultepec Castle (once inhabited by an emperor and empress during the Second Mexican Empire). The hotel buys all its fruit from local farmers and is diligently committed to composting and recycling. Longer, hotter summers pose a threat to Mexico’s agave plant, so be sure to go out for pulque (a viscous, fermented agave drink that exists only in Mexico) at the coolest pulquería in the Tlalpan neighborhood, Pulquería La Santa Solita.
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    What’s Next. . .
    Photo by Davide Annibale