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Top 10 Bucket List Experiences Most at Risk from Climate Change

Top 10 Bucket List Experiences Most at Risk from Climate Change

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It’s not uncommon to hear talk of “bucket list” destinations: the places so spectacular that you simply must see them before you die. For most of us it might seem that there is no rush to fit in these awe-inspiring and life-affirming trips, and many will be saving them up for their later years. But is that really a safe assumption? A recent report analysed by identified the key cities and regions most at risk from climate change by 2050, and we were horrified to see so many of the traditional bucket list destinations appear on the list.

1. Take a River Cruise on the Yangtze River

More than half (114) of the top 200 regions most affected by climate change are situated in Asia, with China bearing the brunt, being home to over half of the top 50 most at-risk states. The majority of these are situated along the Yangtze River, a popular destination for river cruises. The world-renowned waterway has long been considered the lifeline of China, and cruises take in towering stone gorges, the mesmerising Fengdu Ghost City (a Taoist shrine to the afterlife), and the Three Gorges Dam, a feat of modern engineering. The Yangtze has already been hit hard by climate change with the Yangtze River dolphin, a freshwater dolphin native to the river, being officially declared extinct in 2007.

2. Visit the World’s Most Famous Monument to Love

Built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz, The Taj Mahal is considered one of the modern wonders of the world and features on many a bucket list. Unfortunately, following in the footsteps of Princess Diana and snapping a picture on the iconic bench outside the mausoleum may not be possible come 2050. Rapid warming in the Himalaya, which melts glaciers faster, has a significant impact on the Taj Mahal’s home state of Uttar Pradesh, causing the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers to swell, which poses a real risk to the future of the site. It is for this reason that the state features high on the XDI List.

3. Bar Hop Miami Beach

Nowhere has a bar scene quite like Miami, and very soon after landing you’ll discover that everyone has their own ideas about where the best drinks can be found. Whether you’re sipping Miami Vices in the Broken Shaker or downing rum-runners at Monty’s, there’s a reason that Will Smith sang the praises of this city’s nightlife. Unfortunately, Florida is considered to be the US state most at risk from climate change, with the sea levels projected to rise up to 31 inches by 2060. This will be absolutely devastating for Miami, with some studies predicting that the picturesque art deco hotels of Ocean Drive could all be lost entirely within the next three decades.

4. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef has already begun to see huge devastation as a result of climate change, with unprecedented coral bleaching during 2016 and 2017. Coral bleaching occurs when the algae that provide the coral with their food and give them their rich colours leave the coral due to increased ocean temperatures or pollution, leaving the coral bleached and vulnerable. A recent IPCC report reveals that we will lose up to 90% of all warm water reefs that exist today when the average surface temperature hits 1.5C above the pre industrial levels of the late 1800s, while an increase of 2C will see them wiped out entirely.

5. Be Serenaded by a Gondolier in Venice

We were shocked to see a European city on the list, especially one so far north. Climate change isn’t just a threat to warmer countries and is a great concern for Venice, a low-lying city built on marshland. 2019 saw Venice experience the worst flooding that the city had seen in 50 years and even penetrate the 1,000 year old St. Mark’s Basilica. The city has sunk at a rate of 1mm to 2mm per year and rising sea levels could see it disappear beneath the waves as early as 2100.

6. Stay at a Luxury Hotel in the Maldives

With swaying palm trees, white sand beaches and a plethora of five star resorts to choose from, nowhere does luxury quite like the Maldives. However, at the current rate of global warming it is projected that almost 80% of the archipelago could be uninhabitable by 2050. Even as of today, more than 90% of the islands have severe erosion and 97% have no groundwater. As in Australia, climate change is also impacting the country’s coral reefs with more than 60% affected by bleaching in 2016.

7. Follow in the Footsteps of Your Favourite Star in Los Angeles

Everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Donald Trump has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and getting snapped in the same spot as your favourite celebrity, or taking a tour to see their home, can provide an interesting glimpse into how the other half lives. Unfortunately, in very recent times a number of celebrities, from Kim Kardashian to Miley Cyrus and Orlando Bloom, saw their homes engulfed with wildfires. With rising global temperatures, flooding and fire storms seem to be ever more common occurrences in the city, with 51% of Angelenos reporting that for at least some periods between summer 2020 and summer 2021 they did not leave their homes due to concerns about breathing wildfire smoke.

8. Read a Newspaper on the Dead Sea

We’ve all seen the pictures of tourists floating on the salty Dead Sea while reading a newspaper, but recent news shows that this unique body of water is drying up at a rate of 30% over the last two decades. While one cause of the Dead Sea depleting is said to be water from the River Jordan being siphoned off to support flourishing population growth, there is no doubt that global warming and decreased rainfall also plays a part, and the 40% decline in the sea’s phytoplankton can also be attributed to rising water temperatures.

9. Gaze in Wonder at the Giant Heads of Easter Island

Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is one of the most remote destinations in the world, situated 2,300 miles away from Chile. The island is famous for its giant stone heads, which the waves have just started to reach owing to rising water levels. With the island only 15 miles long at its widest point, there are fears that the sea levels could rise up to six feet by 2100 destroying much of its heritage.

10. Count Castles on the Rhine

There are over 40 castles on the area of Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen, and this scenic stretch has rightly been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, this popular destination for river cruisers and weekend breaks is imperilled by rising temperatures and falling water levels, with bouts of low water in 2018 and 2022 estimated to have cost the German economy €12 billion and €8 billion respectively. A €180million effort is now underway to protect the Rhine from climate change, but will it be enough to save this wonderful site for visitors in years to come?

Jonathan Merry of is saddened to see so many popular tourist attractions feature in the XDI report.

While we’re made aware that rising sea levels could make certain destinations like the Maldives disappear, it was shocking to hear that Belgium and Germany both featured in the top 100. Several of the destinations that appeared on the XDI list, such as Beijing, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City are leading economic hubs as well as tourist destinations and this could have serious implications for both industries.
Jonathan Merry, CEO of
Emily Sherlock
Emily Sherlock
Emily is a writer with 15 years’ experience in the industry. Having trained as a journalist and worked for many years managing a team at a City marketing firm, Emily's expertise runs from foreign holidays to forex, and when not writing she can often be found enjoying countryside walks in Surrey or planning her next trip abroad.