Climate Change UNESCO World Heritage List

Climate Change UNESCO World Heritage List

Georgia Morris, Co-Editor

A hot topic for debate in the political world and everyday life is climate change. People argue the severity of its effects and even its existence. However, the changing climate conditions on earth are beginning to affect some of the world’s most famous and beloved sites. Many of these sites are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Formed 72 years ago, the purpose of this specialized agency is to, “contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.” World Heritage Sites identified by UNESCO are chosen for their historical, cultural, and scientific significance and are judged to be important to the collective interests of humanity. Sites are legally protected by international treaties. There are over 1000 sites on the list that are considered important to humanity, and 1 in 4 of them are in danger due to climate change.

If the climate begins to rise, mainly due to greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, many of these sites could be severely damaged or even destroyed. One very obvious example of the dangerous effects that climate change can have is the Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland, where the glacier is melting at a rapid rate. Over half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef have been killed by heat waves, the statues of Easter Island are at risk of being overcome by the rising sea level, and warming waters off the coast of the Galapagos Islands are destroying food supplies for the local species. Even Yellowstone National Park in the United States is being destroyed as winters are becoming shorter, wetlands are shrinking, and forests are at higher risk to catch fire.

As of right now, governments should monitor sites to better understand and address the risk of climate change. The rest of the world needs to take a serious look into how climate change is rapidly occurring, and have a serious and cooperative conversation on how it can be changed.