Charles Moore, an oceanographer and founder of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, discovered this “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, which he estimates may weigh around 100 million tons. The plastic flotsam, which includes bags, bottles and even Lego, could end up polluting the world's beaches.
And now a new report mapping ocean pollution across the globe has shown that humans are killing off sea-life much more quickly than previously thought. According to research from the University of California, human activity has had “a major destructive impact” on 40% of the world’s oceans, killing off coral reefs and endangering the habitats of all kinds of marine life. Worryingly, one of the planet’s most polluted and over-exploited areas is the North Sea – which surrounds Britain’s coastline.
But pollution is not the only problem – rising sea levels and the effects of climate change are now endangering a number of our favourite holiday destinations. By 2020, tourists may no longer be able to enjoy the likes of the Great Barrier Reef or the Amalfi Coast, according to 2007's Future of Travel Report. The study, by travel insurer Churchill, predicts that climate change and damage from tourism could result in the closure of some holiday hotspots or a cap on the number of annual visitors allowed.
On the top 10 "at risk" list are: Puerto de Mazarron (Spain), the Everglades (USA), Athens and Crete (Greece), Cologne Cathedral (Germany), the Dalmatian Coastline (Croatia), Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany (Italy), Goa (India), and the Taj Coral Reef (the Maldives).
We take a look at five wonders we’d love to see before it’s too late – and offer some tips on how you can do your bit to make sure the next generation of travellers can enjoy them too.