With temperatures rising throughout the world, some of the most iconic landmarks and landscapes in the United States are in danger of being lost. Things like rising sea levels, heatwaves, and wildfires are a dire threat to some of the most visited and beautiful landscapes. We analyzed government data and studies from organizations to find U.S landmarks at a high risk.
Many of these beautiful places are visited by millions of tourists each year and have a historical significance in the world. We can all do our part by spreading awareness and traveling ethically when we visit these places. Fortunately, there are government programs and local organizations working hard to reduce the climate threat for some of these notable landmarks.
9 U.S Landmarks At Risk
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is located in Montana along the Rocky Mountains. There are valleys, peaks, and hundreds of trails, making it quite the popular hiking spot. It’s one of the most scenic national parks in the United States, offering beautiful mountain-level views and paddle opportunities in the gorgeous lake.
While hiking attracts many tourists, the main appeal of this national park is its famous glaciers found between the enormous mountains. However, warmer temperatures are slowly causing them to melt. A study done by USGS found that in the last 150 years, almost 60% of glaciers have disappeared. Even more alarming, they mentioned that by 2100 they could all be gone entirely unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Joshua Tree National Park
The Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California. It receives its name for the renowned Joshua trees that exist in the park. The temperature at the national park has been increasing over the past years. Unfortunately, this temperature change is causing reproduction issues with the Joshua trees. According to this published study, they could become extinct by the year 2070 if we don’t do anything about it. These trees play an essential role in the ecosystem by providing food and housing for certain animal species.
As you can see, it’s not just the plants that are being affected. The animals that live here are also in danger. Animals like the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep are two of the many species that suffer the consequences, and if they can’t adapt, they will disappear. According to the National Park Service, a slight increase of 5 degrees Fahrenheit can cause 80 percent of the landscape to become unsuitable for the animal population.
Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley is located in Northern California, near San Francisco. It’s famous for its hundreds of vineyards in the Napa Valley wine region. The vineyards located in this spot are responsible for shipping the vast majority of wine exports across the United States.
Unfortunately, global warming has the potential to make large amounts of land unsuitable for growing grapes drastically affecting production. Not only that, but the high winds in the area, along with the increasingly dry conditions, are at a high risk of sparking wildfires which can destroy the valuable landscape. As the growing seasons experience higher temperatures, the consequences can become drastic in the future.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is located in Montezuma County, Colorado. It measures over 52,000 acres and consists of archeological sites, cliff dwellings, canyons, mountain ranges, and much more. The main issue that has endangered the park is drought. Ironically, this same reappearing issue of drought might explain why the people who lived here nearly 800 years ago left the area.
There have been a couple of wildfires that have already occurred, which have been luckily stopped before spreading and causing too much irreversible damage. However, warmer atmospheres that lead to the ground and rivers being drier increases the risk of fire.
Florida Keys, Florida
The Florida Keys is one of Florida’s most visited areas receiving over 5+ million tourists each year. This archipelago that contains over 1700 islands is a dream destination for people all across the United States and the world.
The current rise in sea levels threatens to place some of its largest islands underwater. According to Nature.org, almost 90% of the entire land is only five feet above sea level. If the sea levels continue to rise, that will affect animal species, plant species, businesses, and the people who live there.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is located in Maine and is 47,000 acres in size. The problem occurring at Acadia National park is that the temperature in the water and land has been slowly rising. According to the National Park Service, the temperature in the water has increased by 3 degrees Fahrenheit in the water and 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit on land over the last century.
The increase in greenhouse emissions has led to a loss in species that inhabit the national park. If things continue this way, some of the native plants and animals will be lost forever. Although some will adapt, for others it will be disastrous. In terms of winter activities for visitors, this increase in temperature will result in fewer opportunities for ice skating, skiing, and much more.
Jamestown is a historical area located in East Virginia. It was the first settlement founded by English settlers in 1607. Today it’s a highly visited tourist area that tourists often explore for a couple of hours. Since it sits only five feet above sea level, there is a significant chance some of it will be underwater in the future.
Apart from the rising sea, heavy rainfalls and strong winds are causing the landscape to deteriorate slowly. Fortunately, there are currently measures being taken by the National Park Service in order to help preserve the historical landmark.
Statue of Liberty
Natural landmarks aren’t the only ones being affected by the climate. The Statue Of Liberty is located in New York City and is one of the most famous landmarks in the entire world. The statue is a representation of democracy, freedom, and justice. Today, it’s at risk due to the rising sea levels.
When Hurricane Sandy occurred, there was a large amount of damage caused to Liberty Island, which is where the statue is located. It made the island uninhabitable due to the dangers of possible floods. With millions of visits each year, it would be a shame if the damage became irreversible.
Alaska is the largest state in the United States, covering nearly 663,300 miles. Almost 60% of the land is managed by the National Park Service. There are beautiful national parks like the Katmai National Park and the Denali National Park. It’s an outdoors utopia filled with beautiful landscapes of extensive forests, mountain ranges, and wilderness.
Unfortunately, the temperature across the state has been steadily increasing over the past years. This has led to melting ice and snow, which has resulted in difficulties for the people living there. Activities ranging from hunting and storing food have become more difficult, and in one case, people had to move away from their village due to the permafrost that the village sat on started to melt.