December 5, 2022

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The world's most visited glaciers may soon disappear

The world’s most visited glaciers may soon disappear

make World Heritage List From UNESCO, the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization, is a kind of golden seal of approval in the world of tourism. The list, which began in 1978, includes more than 1,150 sites nominated by their host countries and includes such tourist destinations as the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and the Amazon Central Complex in Brazil.

It also houses some of the most famous and most visited glaciers in the world, including those in Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks. but according to A report issued by the agency last weekOne third of them are expected to be gone by 2050 due to climate change.

Glaciers that are likely to disappear include the last remaining in Africa, in Kilimanjaro National Park and Mount Kenya, those in the Pyrenees mountains of Mount Perdo, which straddle the borders of France and Spain, and in the Italian Dolomites.

The report, which was released days before the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 scheduled to begin in Egypt, posed a challenge to the travel industry, which is a major contributor to global carbon emissions, with an estimated footprint between 8 and 11 percent of total greenhouse gases. And the According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, or WTTC. Aviation accounts for about 17 percent of the total carbon emissions during travel.

Fifty of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites are home to glaciers, and 18,600 glaciers have been identified at those sites. According to the report, a third of the glaciers in these locations are “doomed to disappear by 2050”.

“These are predictions,” said Thales Carvalho Resende, a UNESCO researcher from Brazil and one of the authors of the report. “Hopefully we’re wrong, of course, but these are predictions based on serious science.”

He said the glaciers would disappear regardless of any “climate scenarios”. But the remaining two-thirds of the glaciers at the World Heritage sites could still be saved if global warming was limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the report.

The listed glaciers lose 58 billion tons of ice annually, an amount equal to the total annual water use of France and Spain, according to UNESCO. Melting is responsible for nearly 5 percent of global sea level rise, according to the study.

Dramatic declines in the price of renewable energy sources and global political mobilization have led to Scientists have concluded that the warming of this century You will most likely fall Between two or three degrees, much lower than the catastrophic four- to six-degree forecast that was previously made. But limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is highly unlikely, and even an additional degree or two of warming would lead to more extreme weather, environmental disruption and suffering for millions of people.

However, Mr Resende said, the UNESCO report shows that the travel industry can play an enormous role in preserving World Heritage sites and helping to change travellers’ behaviour.

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pointed to 2019 ban banning tourists from climbing Uluru, A giant monolith in Australia is sacred to the Anangu, an Aboriginal group that is the guardian of the rock. The ban that came after decades of struggle for the Anangu people, It is highly respected by tourists He gave park rangers time to conserve the flora and fauna of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a World Heritage Site.

Mr. Resende described it as an example of how education and collaboration with local communities can compel tourists to change their travel habits and learn how to better protect sensitive destinations – lessons that could possibly be applied to reduce emissions-producing behaviours.

He said travel companies such as Expedia and Kayak could also encourage people to travel less by advertising more week-long trips rather than three-day or weekend excursions. Resende said a traveler who travels once a year for a longer vacation would theoretically have a smaller carbon footprint than a traveler taking multiple, shorter trips on planes.

At the recent COP conference, held in Glasgow, Scotland, last year, more than 300 members of the trillion-dollar global tourism industry, including tourism operators, heads of hotel chains and leaders of tourism boards, get together to sign for Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. since then, More than 530 stakeholders They signed the pledge.

The agreement required them to present a concrete and transparent plan within 12 months to halve carbon emissions by 2030 and reach “net zero” by 2050.

Jeff Roy, the travel company’s executive vice president, said travel companies have a “special obligation” to address the industry’s carbon footprint Colette Toursa travel company that organizes excursions to World Heritage sites.

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“The good news is that the travel industry has come together to share resources and work collaboratively to transform tourism in relation to climate action in a way we’ve never seen before,” he said in a statement. “There is a lot that needs to be done, and quickly, as the pace of climate change is accelerating.”

Mr. Thornton said Intrepid, for example, has started transporting tourists between some destinations rather than flying, a change from previous practices.

The release of the report has raised concerns that tourists will flock to and see the glaciers before they disappear, exacerbating overcrowding in national parks and other sensitive natural areas.

Fred Bianchi, Director, said: Glacier National Park of Worcester Polytechnic Project Center in Montana. The park is not mentioned in the UNESCO report, but scientists fear The park could be glacier-free by 2030.

The pandemic has led many parks to set up a reservation system to avoid heavy foot traffic. Mr. Bianchi said the UNESCO report provides another incentive to keep this kind of system in place.

Luther Lake, the company’s reservation agent, said more tourists should see the damage caused by man-made climate change Gray Line Travelthat organizes trips to Yosemite National Park where the two glaciers are, night And the MacleurThey have been holding back for decades.

“Seeing it in pictures is one thing, but seeing it in person has a different effect,” Mr Lake said. “It’s frankly terrifying.”