What thing might bring down the 40-ton slabs of stone comprising the most famous useless-but-maybe-mystical-and-good-for-vacation-photo structure made from 40-ton slabs of stone? (Er, yes, Stonehenge.) If your guess wasn’t “moles,” you’d probably sound less absurd than if it were, but you’d also less correct, because according to a new UN report, the answer is, actually, moles.
Obviously, the human and ecological toll that global warming will take is far more frightening than anything that can or can’t be done to a group of stones, regardless of their historic significance. But there’s something quite indicative of the gravity of said human and ecological toll when it’s being speculated that the effects of global warming could bring down a structure that’s withstood around 5,000 years of England’s miserable weather thus far. According to the Washington Post, a new UNESCO/United Nations Environment Program/Union of Concerned Scientists report about threats to World Heritage sites has detailed the extent of our carbon footprint — noting that there’s now more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than at any point in the last 800,000 years — and, as a result, noted the ways that increased mole and badger populations caused by global warming could undermine the mysteriously arranged monoliths.
The report is massive and can be downloaded as a PDF here, but among the 31 World Heritage sites whose potential threats it examines, the report says of Stonehenge:
Warmer winters are likely to bring higher populations of burrowing mammals including badgers, moles and rabbits, which may destabilize stonework and disturb buried archaeological deposits. Hotter drier summers could increase the number of visitors, and could change the plant species in the grassland that currently stabilizes the site’s chalk downlands, exacerbating soil erosion problems.
It also notes that increased rainfall and flash floods are the other high concerns for the particular site. Similarly, it warns of how the damage done by Hurricane Sandy to Liberty Island could only be a preview of what global warming could do to the Statue of Liberty, saying that “as solid and invulnerable as the Statue of Liberty itself seems, the World Heritage site is actually at considerable risk from some of the impacts of climate change – especially sea-level rise, increased intensity of storms and storm surges.” The report explains how Liberty Island was flooded during the storm in 2012, and how, coupled with Ellis Island, the repairs to both sites cost over $77 million.
Again, clearly these historic/national symbols are meaningless compared to the potential global warming has to destroy human lives, but knowing just how much more fragile human lives are than 5,000 year old stone arrangements, these potential threats certainly work as another disquieting gauge. Of course, no matter how many such gauges we accumulate, it seems nothing will to convince everyone — especially not potential oligarchic leaders — that this is a desperate situation. For, the same week that this new report comes out, Trump vows to back out of the Paris Climate Deal. And so, it can oddly be said that you can add moles to your list of reasons to vote against Trump in the coming election.