Environmental change, economic development, and the constant demand for energy are profoundly affecting natural systems the world over. There are places where this is a good thing. New jobs, electricity, and new water sources can be great news for local populations. Unfortunately, they can also spell curtains for the singular landscapes and ecosystems that suddenly find themselves besieged. These are some of the beautiful places that may not be around for the next generation — places to visit before it's too late.
Why: An idyllic island getaway in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Îles-de-la-Madeleine's white sand beaches and sandstone cliffs are steadily eroding. Strong winds have always been part of life on the islands, and they make for notable kite surfing. But Canadian Geographic reported last year that the high concentration of sea ice currently shielding the archipelago's shores from destructive storms is disappearing. Climate researchers estimate the protective ice will be gone sometime between 2050 and 2090. The Canadian government's St. Lawrence Action Plan acknowledges that, "the rise in water levels will be so great that the North Shore of the gulf is likely to be flooded by the end of the 21st century." Currently, anywhere from four to 43 inches of coast are lost each year, and intense storms can destroy up to three feet along certain cliffs.
What to do: Fly into Îles-de-la-Madeleine Airport, board a ferry from Prince Edward Island, or take a cruise from Montreal. Station yourself at Havre-sur-Mer, surrounded by red sandstone cliffs and stunning beaches. Rent windsurfing gear (or kayaks and SUP boards) at Nautical Centre of Istorlet and harness the wind in the bay of Havre-Aubert. After a day out on the water, catch the sunset while enjoying moules-frites at Café La Côte.
More info: tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com
Credit: Ron Erwin / Getty Images