I'm Steve Ember.
And I'm Faith Lapidus with EXPLORATIONS
in VOA Special English. Today we travel around the world visiting several
endangered natural and cultural treasures. Some places like Australia's Great Barrier
Reef and Montana's Glacier National Park are threatened by the effects of
climate change. Other places are slowly being damaged by pollution and careless
book "Disappearing Destinations" explains more about these endangered places
and suggests helpful ways to take action.
this month, the Obama Administration called for increased protection of the
world's most southern continent, Antarctica. Scientists say climate change and
human activity have increasingly led to the melting of massive pieces of
Antarctic ice. The disappearance of ice
will not only affect wildlife in the area such as seals and penguins. The
melting will also cause oceans and seas around the world to rise.
This represents a major threat,
especially to coastal areas. For example, the ancient city of Venice, Italy has
long been threatened by rising sea levels. The situation is made worse by the
fact that its ancient buildings, built on a body of water called a lagoon, are
slowly sinking. When the city was founded about one thousand six hundred years
ago, the level of the Adriatic Sea was almost two meters lower than it is
sea levels are not the only threat. The salty water is also destroying Venice's
famous buildings and artworks. The Italian government is trying to fix the
problem with the construction of a seven billion dollar system of moving flood
Climate change is
also leading to the melting of ice in other areas, such as Mount Kilimanjaro in
northeastern Tanzania. It is the highest point in Africa, measuring almost six
thousand meters. The mountain supports five vegetation zones and many kinds of
ice glaciers on the mountain are disappearing very quickly. This will have a bad
effect on the mountain's ecosystems and on Tanzania's travel industry. Also, a
valuable record of thousands of years of weather history will also be lost if
the ice melts. Scientists study pieces
of glacier to understand weather patterns from thousands of years ago.
In the United States, the icy
masses in Glacier National Park in Montana may soon completely disappear
because of climate change. In eighteen fifty, there were an estimated one
hundred fifty glaciers in the more than four hundred thousand hectare park.
are twenty-six glaciers remaining today. Scientists estimate that the glaciers
will be gone by two thousand thirty. Warming temperatures are also threatening
the many kinds of plants and animals that live in this mountain ecosystem.
Venice, Mount Kilimanjaro, Glacier National Park and
other threatened places are described in detail in a book called "Disappearing
Destinations: 37 Places in Peril and What Can Be Done to Help Save Them."
Kimberly Lisagore and Heather Hansen published the book last year.
women are reporters who write about travel and the environment. Miz Lisagore
says they began to notice how rare it was to find travel writing that
recognized environmental problems and solutions. So, the two writers made a
list of places that people should see before those places disappear.
The writers tell about the
good work being done by scientists and activists to protect each place. They
wanted the book to be a hopeful call to action. Miz Lisagore says their aim was
to give travelers a more meaningful experience by educating them about the
places they love to visit.
"Disappearing Destinations" is organized
geographically by continental groupings. Some of the threatened places are very
well known. For example, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest
coral reef system in the world.
Rising sea temperatures are
greatly harming the reef. In some areas, healthy yellow, brown and green reefs have
become a bleached white color. The coral whitens when it becomes stressed by
warmer temperatures and expels the algae organisms it needs to survive. Sick or
dying coral affects the entire ecosystem of this special underwater area. Water
pollution and visits by careless swimmers and divers also threaten the reef.
The famous Galapagos
Islands, more than nine hundred kilometers off the coast of Ecuador, are also
endangered. This protected area is known for its rich biodiversity of sea and
land creatures. One threat to this area is the introduction of foreign plants
and organisms. Foreign plants growing in the area can upset the balanced ecosystems
of native plants and animals. In fact, today there are more foreign plant
species on the islands than there are native plants. Increasing immigration and
visits from travelers are also damaging the health of the islands.
Destinations" also discusses places that face environmental threats that are
less well known. For example, the Napa Valley in the American state of
California is famous for its fine wines. But rising temperatures are
threatening the grape harvest and wine industry in the area. To be made into fine
wine, some kinds of grapes must grow in a limited range of temperatures. As
temperatures rise in Napa, producers may find it harder to produce wine of the
same quality. However, rising temperatures have improved the wine harvest in
In the ancient forests of the
Lapland area of Finland, many people in the Sami native group make a living
raising reindeer. Sami have been raising reindeer in this area for hundreds of
years. But intensive logging in this part of Finland has started to threaten
the work and culture of this group. Finland's forestry agency cuts down trees
that are very old because they earn the most money.
But this logging also ruins
the areas where Sami bring their reindeer to feed. Some experts say only five
percent of Finland's old-growth forest remains. Continued logging will not only
affect the natural environment of this beautiful northern wilderness. It could
also forever change the ancient way of life of the area's native Sami people.
Many endangered places in "Disappearing Destinations"
are cultural treasures. For example, hundreds of thousands of people a year
visit the ancient buildings of Machu Picchu in Peru. These Incan buildings face
severe damage if the number of visitors is not more carefully controlled.
in Mali, the famous city of Timbuktu was once a cultural capital of West
Africa. But today, the climate is drying out the fertile grasslands. This
change of climate threatens the local environment and the livelihoods of people
living there. The desertification process also threatens Timbuktu's many ancient
earth buildings. These buildings have influenced building designers around the
says that she has been very pleased by the response of people who have read
"Disappearing Destinations." She says she and Heather Hansen have heard from
readers who no longer think of the places they visit as pictures on postcards
that are frozen in time. Instead, the readers see these places as easily
damaged and always changing.
Miz Lisagore says some readers have decided
to work harder to protect the environment. These people learned that the way
they choose to live at home has far-reaching effects on the planet. The book
also includes a list of organizations working to protect the endangered places described.
So readers can learn more information about the groups that interest them.
Readers can also learn more about traveling in ways that do not harm the places
Lisagore says she is starting to see a more balanced travel relationship
between tourists and the places they visit. She says Americans often take what
a place has to offer and then go back home. Miz Lisagore says it is important
for travelers to realize that they are visiting a place that is someone's home.
And, she hopes that more travelers of all nationalities will see themselves as
ambassadors who have a long term responsibility to the places they visit.
program was written by Dana Demange. Mario Ritter was the producer. I'm Steve
I'm Faith Lapidus. You can see pictures of these endangered places on our Web
site, voaspecialenglish.com. You can
also get transcripts and MP3 files. Join us again next week for Explorations in
VOA Special English.