Happy Earth Day, global citizens! First celebrated in 1970 to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, this originally groovy holiday has evolved to become an international observance focused on the environment and the health of the planet. In fact, President Barak Obama spent his Earth Day in the Florida Everglades to call attention to their plight.
To mark Earth Day, here are five of our most beautiful, but endangered, earthly vistas. We hope you’ll consider playing a role in their preservation so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.
Why it’s a treasure: Its ice cap holds 90 percent of all water on Earth, making it crucial to our existence.
Why it’s endangered: Rising temperatures is causing rapid melting and if it continues sea levels could rise by more than 200 feet decimating island nations such as Micronesia and Polynesia.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
Why it’s a treasure: The largest coral reef in the world covering more than 133,000 square miles and home to 1,500 species of fish, 411 hard corals and 134 species of sharks and rays.
Why it’s endangered: Rising ocean temperatures and pollution have caused constant erosion. At this rate it will be destroyed within 100 years.
Why it’s a treasure: Home to Mount Everest, the Himalayas boast the highest mountain peaks on dry land a unique biome for species such as the snow leopard, the Ganges River dolphin, the red panda and the Bengal tiger.
Why it’s endangered: Deforestation, animal poaching, melting mountaintop ice caps (not to mention the Mount Everest poop problem) is causing severe problems for the “Roof of the World.”
Why it’s a treasure: A collection of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles are a tropical paradise, home to 75 plant species found nowhere else on the planet.
Why it’s endangered: Development and climate change have caused beach erosion and dying coral reefs. The archipelago could become submerged within the next century if the rate of destruction continues.
AMAZON RAIN FOREST
Why it’s a treasure: This delicate ecosystem supports one in ten known species and acts as the lungs of the world, filtering carbon and providing oxygen.
Why it’s endangered: Deforestation has decimated 17 percent of the Amazon’s forest canopy, a rate that continues.