Climate change, with its associated droughts, storms, food shortages and wildfires, puts humans at physical risk. Yet global warming also imperils what is less tangible but still valuable: our national identity. In May the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report detailing more than 30 iconic sites in the U.S. that are at risk of damage. Write the authors: “If future generations of Americans are to experience the joy and wonder that these extraordinary places engender, we must act now to protect them from the impacts of climate change.”
Statue of Liberty, New York City
Hurricanes; storm surges; rising tides; flooding
Protection: After Hurricane Sandy, the National Park Service began work on flood-proofing Liberty Island's climate-control systems and elevating its electrical systems.
Faneuil Hall, Boston
Rising seas; coastal flooding
Protection: The city is planning building renovations that may include flood-protection walls.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Buxton, N.C.
Shoreline erosion; sea-level rise
Protection: In 1999 the National Park Service moved the lighthouse 2,900 feet back—a project that cost $11.8 million.
NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston
Protection: The center installed new roofs designed to withstand 130-mph winds. Hurricane Ike repairs from 2008 cost roughly $80 million.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde, Colo.
Protection: The National Park Service performs prescribed burns. It is also adding silicone to cliff faces to reroute water and prevent erosion.