In the realm of tourism, being included on the World Heritage List maintained by UNESCO, the educational, scientific, and cultural institution of the United Nations, is equivalent to receiving an endorsement made of gold. The Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and the Central Amazon Conservation Complex in Brazil are just some of the tourist destinations that can be found on this list, which was first compiled in 1978 and now includes more than 1,150 sites nominated by their respective host nations.
It is also home to some of the most well-known and often visited glaciers in the world, including those located in Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks respectively. However, according to a research that was published by the agency the week before last, climate change is anticipated to trigger the extinction of one third of them by the year 2050.
The glaciers on Mont Perdu in the Pyrenees, which straddles the border between France and Spain, as well as those in Italy’s Dolomites, are among the ones that are most likely to melt away. These glaciers are the last of their kind in Africa and can be found in Kilimanjaro National Park and on Mount Kenya.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, or W.T.T.C., the report posed a challenge to the travel industry, which is a significant contributor to global carbon emissions, with a footprint estimated to be between 8 and 11 percent of total greenhouse gases. The report was released just a few days before the United Nations’ COP27 climate change conference was scheduled to begin in Egypt. Aviation accounts for around 17 percent of the total carbon emissions caused by travel.
According to him, the glaciers will vanish regardless of the “climate scenarios” that are considered. According to the assessment, it is still possible to conserve the remaining two-thirds of the glaciers in the World Heritage sites provided the global warming is kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to UNESCO, the glaciers on the list are losing 58 billion tonnes of ice per year, an amount that is comparable to the annual water usage of France and Spain combined. According to the findings of the research, the melting is to blame for approximately 5% of the currently observed increase in sea level around the globe.
He made reference to a rule that will go into effect in 2019 that prohibits visitors from climbing Uluru, a massive monolith in Australia that is considered holy by the Anangu, an Aboriginal clan that serves as the rock’s caretaker. At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is a World Heritage site, the prohibition, which was implemented after decades of agitation by the Anangu people, has been mostly respected by visitors. This has provided area rangers with the opportunity to keep the park’s flora and wildlife in a healthy state.
Mr. Resende used it as an illustration to demonstrate how education and collaboration with local communities can persuade tourists to change their travel habits and learn how to better protect sensitive destinations. These are lessons that could possibly be applied to curbing behaviours that produce emissions.
According to him, travel agencies such as Expedia and Kayak may also help individuals travel less often by promoting longer vacations of at least seven days rather than shorter vacations of just three days or weekends. According to Mr. Resende, a traveller who makes several, shorter flights on aircraft is more likely to leave a larger carbon footprint than a traveller who takes one big flight once per year for a more extended holiday.
The dissemination of the findings generated fears that people might throng to the glaciers in order to view them before they disappeared, increasing the overcrowding problems that already existed in national parks and other sensitive natural regions.
Because of the epidemic, several parks have instituted reservation systems in order to reduce the number of visitors. According to Mr. Bianchi, the UNESCO study offers another another argument in favour of maintaining the status quo of that kind of system.
According to Luther Likes, a booking representative with Gray Line Travel, which arranges tours to Yosemite National Park, where the two glaciers Lyell and Maclure have been melting for decades, more people should witness the harm caused by man-made climate change.