From choosing our business energy supply to brushing our teeth, everything we do has the potential to produce harmful emissions. It is estimated that over 30 billion tons of carbon emissions are being emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere annually, and it is no secret that carbon dioxide is a direct contributor to global warming.
Climate change has put the most beautiful sites in the world at risk, and if we do not preserve our planet and everything in it, we will soon find ourselves at the forefront of destroying some of the world’s most historic landscapes.
Technology-based advancements have helped us in many ways, including comparing potential electricity for business prices. But with the help of AI software, we’ve used these technological advancements to reveal how some of the most well-known landscapes could be affected by climate change in the future.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Translating to ‘Temple City,’ Angkor Wat was founded in the 12th century and has been admired by millions of visitors. Remarkably, the pointed towers of this ancient Cambodian temple, which are surrounded by forestry and flowing water canals, are still recognisable today.
Despite dedicated conservation projects founded to protect this landmark, Angkor Wat has become a cropper to erosion and stone deterioration; however, this isn’t the biggest threat to its future. Cambodia has witnessed extreme weather due to climate change, including drought, which could dry out the temple and, worst case scenario, cause it to collapse.
Giant’s Causeway, UK
Millions of years ago, an area in Northern Ireland was subject to a volcanic eruption, which resulted in the distinctive columns of rock known as Giant’s Causeway, which we can still observe today. Unsurprisingly, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a popular tourist attraction, with regular guided tours.
The natural erection of this landmark makes it so remarkable, but unfortunately, the elements could also be responsible for its demise in the future. As a result of climate change, the UK has been experiencing a rising sea level over the last few years. Aside from the threat of erosion, we could see Giant’s Causeway submerged by the sea.
La Sagrada Familia, Spain
Located in the Spanish city of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia began construction in the 1800s. However, this landmark is still yet to be completed, with some predicting it could take another 10 to 20 years. The unfinished nature of this Roman Catholic church has not deterred visitors, with an estimated three million tourists basking in its beauty every year.
Despite being a work in progress, the elements are already threatening the future of this landmark. Some aspects of climate change that could take a toll on La Sagrada Familia include flooding, storms, and global warming, which could discolour the stone and erode parts of the church.
Mount Rushmore, USA
Mount Rushmore is one of the most recognisable landmarks in the US and has stood tall for over eighty years. Visible from the air or on land, this sculpture memorialises the faces of four US presidents, each representing a different aspect of the country’s legacy.
In keeping with its artificial construction, this landscape is preserved by workers annually, where any cracks or noticeable imperfections are repaired, but this won’t protect Mount Rushmore forever. Caused by the burning of fossil fuels, levels of acid rain have decreased across North America in recent years; however, it remains a threat to this landmark.
It is estimated that the ancient city of Petra has existed since the 5th century. Carved out of red stone, this unique piece of architecture has inhabited many people over the years but now serves as a tourist destination with the inclusion of modern-day amenities to facilitate visitors.
Becoming known as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, it is clear that Petra is adored by many, but our lack of care for the planet has made this landscape vulnerable. Extreme rainfall in Jordan makes Petra susceptible to flooding, and in the future, this could lead to the submersion of this landmark.
Millions stop and admire Stonehenge yearly due to its mysterious construction and striking landscape. However, like with the other areas on our list, climate change is becoming particularly apparent in the UK.
Global warming is resulting in warmer winters, which have been known to boost populations of burrowing animals, such as badgers. Although this sounds positive for the local wildlife, their deposits can destabilise stonework, and this could take its toll on Stonehenge in the future.
Taj Mahal, India
Aside from its intricate design and distinctive shape, the Taj Mahal is admired for its ivory exterior, a material known for its durability. When this landmark was erected in the 1600s, the air pollution levels in India were much lower, but the mass burning of fossil fuels is starting to take its toll on this mausoleum.
This landmark’s exterior has already begun to be tainted by the effects of air pollution, which has resulted in the landmark’s slight discolouration. Despite recent attempts to clean its surface, the yellowing of the Taj Mahal is a warning sign of things to come if climate change continues at this level.
Brandenburg Gate, Germany
Located in Germany’s capital, the Brandenburg Gate is regarded by this nation as a symbol of peace and unity. Having said this, if we don’t come together to reduce the effects of climate change, then we will likely start to see cracks in its foundation.
Unfortunately, just like some of the other landmarks on our list, the surface of the Brandenburg Gate is vulnerable to surface discolouration due to heavy rainfall across the county. If this wasn’t enough, a radical attempt to raise awareness about the effects of global warming took place in September 2023, resulting in the exterior of this landmark being temporarily soiled.
The Great Wall Of China, China
Spanning more than 21km, the Great Wall of China is a remarkable piece of architecture, initially built by Chinese emperors to protect their territory. While the wall has withstood military invasions, it appears that even the most preserved sections of this landmark could be threatened by climate change.
Extreme weather in China has seen some disastrous sandstorms in recent years, caused by powerful wind speeds. If hit by more devastating weather-related events, this could lead to cracks in the wall, eventually leading to the breakdown of this landmark’s structure.
Victoria Falls, Zambia & Zimbabwe
Located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is classified as one of the world’s largest waterfalls, and many would also consider it one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world.
Due to the characteristics of this waterfall, erosion will always be a threat, but bouts of extreme weather in this area will weaken the walls of this landmark much quicker than it should. Intense drought could reduce water flow, taking away from the grandeur and beauty that made people fall in love with Victoria Falls in the first place.
We used US News to compile a seeding list of some of the most famous landmarks worldwide.
We used a series of online articles to understand each landmark’s potential climate change threats and how these threats could impact the look and structure of each landmark in the future.
We used Midjourney to generate images of what each landmark may look like in the future based on the effects of climate change – all photos were generated in November 2023.