Must-See Destinations of Natural Beauty Around the World
With a flick of the faucet, we can easily harness one of nature’s most powerful and sustaining forces: water. Whether rock was sculpted, land washed away, or sources joined, water has crafted some of the world’s most striking landscapes and spaces. Check out the list below to learn how Earth’s diverse surface has been shaped by water.
The creation of some of Earth’s most striking formations born out of a simple formula: water plus time. A lot of time. The most obvious evidence of water’s power can be seen by what’s left behind. The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and the Twelve Apostles in Australia are a few examples of what’s left lingering after water works on rocks over time. Other natural creations, such as the karst formations in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, Wave Rock in Australia, or the Stone Forest in China perfectly showcase the beauty and mystery of eons of water erosion.
Aside from carving the land as we know it today, water was—and continues to be—integral to the development of civilizations and trade. The Yangtze River, the longest river in China and third longest in the world, is home to many of China’s biggest cities. It is the busiest inland waterway in the world, warranting the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project. Similarly, the Rhine River spans six countries in Europe, and for centuries, provided clean water for cooking, washing, and farming, which helped stave off disease and aided the development of trade and agriculture.
It is easy to take for granted the ease and availability of water today—simply turn on a faucet or buy a plastic bottle at the store. However, climate change impacts the Earth’s water cycle, which has a cascading negative effect on all parts of the ecosystem. Carbonic acid, an acid that forms from carbon dioxide dissolved in water, erodes softer rock faster, meaning that Ha Long Bay and the Twelve Apostles might soon be natural wonders that no longer exist. Legzira Beach in Morocco has already experienced irreversible damage to the landscape. One of its famous arches collapsed due to rising sea levels and dryness. An inevitable collapse of the second arch may not be far behind. Similarly, increased instances of drought at the Brazil-Argentina border will diminish the water flow of the Iguazu Falls, meaning one of the most immense and powerful waterfalls in the world could one day slow to a relative trickle.
Whether it is the Great Blue Hole of Belize, caused by an underwater sinkhole, or the cascading steps of Pamukkale, Turkey, or the color-changing lakes of Plitvice, Croatia, water remains a beautiful mystery, a powerful force of nature, and a sustainer of all this planet’s life. As we continue to harness water for modern purposes, such as energy and power, we must also understand it is wholly beyond our control and therefore always something to respect and protect.