Could Climate Change Be A Threat To Easter Island Statues, Other World Heritage Sites?

Last month, the Inquisitr announced that climate change is being increasingly accepted as fact. No longer is global warming treated worldwide as an “if” but rather as a “when.” However, in light of new reports from UNESCO and others, the threats of global warming may begin to receive serious consideration and action. These reports explain that climate change could threaten World Heritage sites worldwide.

“An international team of scientists, anthropologists, and economists have identified 31 cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage sites across 29 countries that are directly threatened by climate change,” Motherboard reported. “Among these are the Neolithic structures of Stonehenge, the towering moai on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Venice’s historic architecture, and even the United States’ own Statue of Liberty.”

Adam Markham from the Climate and Energy Program at UCS further explained these threats in a statement.

“There’s never been a report that looks at the existing threats of right now. Once a site is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, there’s no sort of mandatory reporting that has to be done. Countries are encouraged to provide state of conservation reports, however, not every World Heritage site has had one.”

Easter Island’s situation is a particular concern for archaeologists, environmentalists, and others. The United Nations said in a report that, with the threat of ocean levels rising, higher waves are chipping away at the cliffs that have held the island’s famous statues for over 500 years.

“Some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost to the sea because of coastal erosion,” Markham continued. “Many of the world’s most important coral reefs, including in the islands of New Caledonia in the western Pacific, have suffered unprecedented coral bleaching linked to climate change this year. […] Climate change could eventually even cause some World Heritage sites to lose their status.”

Similarly, CDA News reported that other areas and monuments are at risk due to the threats of climate change.

“Rising sea levels are threatening the canals of Venice, shorter winters combined with less snowfall has affected the water supply at Yellowstone National Park, which increases the risk for wildfires. In England, the famous rock formation, Stonehenge, is at risk of tumbling to the ground when badger and mole populations explode and their tunnels and burrows weaken the ground the 5,000-year-old monument sits on.”

In an attempt to provide a disclaimer, the Washington Post said that while none of these outcomes are necessarily inevitable, they are certainly possible. Also, the visible change and erosion of the cliffs on Easter Island are a worrisome and serious threat to the ancient statues.

“In the past, looting and mismanagement have permanently altered or destroyed World Heritage Sites. But if the planet continues to warm at current rates, climate change may find itself listed alongside Taliban dynamite as a reason for such destruction. […] There is […] ‘unequivocal scientific evidence’ that the atmosphere contains more carbon dioxide today than it did at any time going back for 800,000 years. “

Even places as different from each other as the Galapagos Islands, Old Town Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, and the American Statue of Liberty are all facing environmental threats. Each are threatened specifically by rising sea levels, as Global News explained particularly regarding the Galapagos Islands.

“While the main threats to the Islands in recent decades have been tourism, population growth, the introduction of invasive species, and illegal fishing, now climate change is also having an impact as rising sea levels, a warming atmosphere, and ocean acidification will have dire consequences for the islands’ ecosystems.”

What do you think? Are these concerns worth our time? Or do you think that climate change and its consequences are inevitable? Leave your comments below!

[Image from AP Photo/La Tercera, File]