It’s hard to predict the future, but we can get a pretty good idea of what the future holds by observing weather, nature, and human behavior. Each of these places is endangered either directly or indirectly because of human behavior, which potentially means that humans have the power to prevent the loss of at least some of these sites too.

Madagascar

The large island off the southeastern coast of continental Africa is Madagascar. This nation is home to 21 million humans and a wide array of unique plants and animals, including lemurs.

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Phys.org

“Thanks to cattle grazing, logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, only 17 percent of Madagascar’s original vegetation remains,” writes Stephanie Pappas for Live Science. “In addition, invasive species have devastated local flora and fauna.”

If logging and grazing continue to expand, it could mean the end of Madagascar as we know it.

The Arctic

Temperatures in the Arctic are warming at twice the rate as the rest of the world. These rapidly rising temperatures can be attributed, at least in part, to melting sea ice.

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Wikipedia

As Live Science warns us, the melting arctic means bad news for the whole planet:

“As reflective ice melts, the ocean surface may absorb more solar energy, raising ocean temperatures and starting a feedback loop the melts the remaining ice faster. Changes in ocean salinity could destabilize ocean currents. And melting permafrost could release carbon into the atmosphere, creating another feedback loop that warms the planet even further. In other words, the changes in the Arctic aren’t just the result of global climate change. They can also cause it.”

Aleppo

“Located at the crossroads of several trade routes from the 2nd millennium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans,” writes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“The 13th-century citadel, 12th-century Great Mosque and various 17th-century madrasas, palaces, caravanserais and hammams all form part of the city’s cohesive, unique urban fabric, now threatened by overpopulation.”

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iStock

Sadly, this description must have been written before the Syrian civil war reached the ancient city in 2012. Tens—if not hundreds—of thousands of people have fled what was once Syria’s largest city. With war also came the destruction of much of the Old City of Aleppo World Heritage Site, which included the Great Mosque of Aleppo and other centuries-old buildings.

It will take decades for this city to recover from the destruction caused over the past five years.

Micronesia and Polynesia

Some 4,500 south Pacific islands make up the lands of Micronesia and Polynesia.

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iStock

“While invasive species ravage the islands from the inside,” such as rats that eat birds and eggs of native animals, “global warming threatens from without,” writes Pappas in Live Science. The author goes on to note that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that “a one-meter rise in sea level would submerge more than 4 square miles of the 100-square mile island of Tongatapu, Tonga,” for example. Add tropical storms to the mix and things look dire for these low-lying islands.

Lake Nicaragua

If Chinese billionaire Wang Jing has his way, Lake Nicaragua could look a lot different in the future.

Lake Nicaragua is the country’s largest source of fresh water and is the biggest lake in Central America. It’s also home to the only freshwater shark in the world.

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iStock

Wang has ambitions to create the Nicaragua Canal, a huge infrastructure project that would rival the Panama Canal. This canal would widen the San Juan River and would send ships through this great Central American lake, potentially bringing salt water and invasive species with them, which could greatly change the ecosystem of this remarkable body of water.

Wang lost a great deal of money in the Chinese stock market crash a few years ago, and it seems that he may need to find additional financial assistance to make the project happen. If he finds the dough, it could mean bad news for the lake.