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Global Climate Change Threatening Our World Heritage Sites

By: Alisa Zhou

Have you ever visited the beautiful Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona or enjoyed a gondola ride through the canals of Venice, Italy? These world-renowned destinations are just two of the UNESCO world heritage sites that are unfortunately, being threatened by global climate change.

UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to preserving the world’s culture and heritage. It maintains a World Heritage List containing 1092 world heritage sites with cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties.

UNESCO is increasingly worried about the negative impact of climate change on these sites since rising temperatures are destroying the natural beauty, resulting in irreversible damage. They have identified carbon dioxide emissions —  gases released during the combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, to produce electricity — as the major contributor to global climate change, and is thus taking action to try to mitigate global carbon dioxide emissions. Their efforts to protect the world heritage sites include researching renewable energy options, assessing the risks for natural disasters, monitoring the effects of climate change, and raising public awareness of the impact of climate change on world heritage sites. With the UNESCO’s efforts, the destinations on the World Heritage List can be preserved, and tourists will continue to have the opportunity to witness firsthand the sites that play a significant role to our world history.



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