UNESCO is probably the most interesting and functional UN branch (sorry Security Council). It is dedicated to use its resources to promote education, science, and culture in the world by funding their maintenance and promotion. One example of an amazing cooperation effort for the sake of science is the formation of CERN. In case you have been living under a rock, the scientists at CERN are the creators of the Large Hadron Collider, which recently proved where gravity comes from, a previously unknown boson, disproving the widely held belief that it was magic.
In 1954, a crisis arose (cue dramatic music) as the planned Aswan Dam in Egypt would have effectively destroyed the Abu Simbel Temples, some of the most stunning and iconic structures of ancient Egypt. UNESCO sprung into action! A set of over 50 countries scrapped together some 40 million USD of the necessary 80 million to relocate the temple to higher ground. Egypt got its dam, the world kept a marvel, and no country felt an enormous financial strain as everyone chipped in a little. Win-Win-Win.
From this, UNESCO brainstormed the idea of having a list of places around the world that members would recognize as having universal value to all of humanity. For better or for worse, UNESCO often distances itself from the politics that govern our planet, evident in the recent addition of Kaesong in North Korea, despite that country’s human rights record.
While UNESCO and its so called UNESCO World Heritage Sites are a fantastic guide to some of the best things to see in the world, they sometimes really drop the ball. These are 10 places around the world that UNESCO has shockingly not given World Heritage status.
10) Bio Sphere 2, (Arizona, USA)
The biosphere 2 is one of the most incredible structures with immense scientific ramifications. While most readers have probably never heard of it, it is our key to future colonization of the solar system. It is a structure built out in the Arizona desert which is completely enclosed and self-supportive. With the exception of electricity, everything is generated inside of the glass domes. Food, soil, animals, oxygen, and even water are all recycled and nothing goes in or out. It is pretty much those domes you might have seen in a science fiction show or movie.
But, is it realistic for people to live inside? Well, they have! For two years, a group of eight scientists lived in the dome, along with many different plant and animal species, proving that such technology is no longer science fiction. While the project proved to have its difficulties, and the volunteers admitted to hating each other’s guts by the end, I can’t help but be optimistic. In case you were wondering, Biosphere 1 would be the Earth. For further reading, check out The Human Experiment: Two Years and Twenty minutes inside of Biosphere 2 by Jane Poynter, a book detailing the adventure.
9) Tulum (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
When we think about ancient Mayan ruins, Chichen Itza, Tikal, and Palenque are clearly the best known sites. Tulum, however, is one of the best preserved ruins in quite an incredible setting. The port city of Tulum lies at the edge of the Yucatan peninsula overlooking the Caribbean sea. Its waters have been named one of the top beaches in the world and is often considered one of Mexico’s best kept secret. Read more →