The Latest World Heritage Site: The Atmosphere

Thanks to a decision of the World Heritage Committee, the atmosphere has been added to the list of World Heritage Sites. It is taking its place alongside such wonders as Chichen-Itza and the city of Fez, having been declared to be of “Outstanding Universal Value.”

This is a shortened report by Hillary Ionesco, published on July 14 in the International Herald Tribune.

A commemorative plaque is set to be placed on the atmosphere by weather balloon as soon as possible and immediate changes are being made to protect this universal resource.

“For years,” laments climatologist Richard Hower, “people have been abusing the atmosphere.” With its new status, restrictions will apply as to the amount of pollution, particularly CO2 and methane, which is allowed to enter the atmosphere.

“Until now, this site was completely unprotected,” reports climate expert Wu Chi. “Certain countries were treating it like a landfill, without regard for it as an international site of huge value and importance. As a World Heritage Site, the atmosphere is sure to get the protection it deserves.”

Within the guidelines for the atmosphere’s inclusion as a World Heritage Site, specific conditions are named in order to protect its sustained health. One such requirement, to keep its CO2 levels below 350 parts per million, was brought to the forefront of this year’s Copenhagen Climate Summit through thousands of coordinated grassroots actions. Riding on the coattails of this wave of popular support, the World Heritage Committee seized upon the opportunity to get the atmosphere protected by adding it to the list of World Heritage Sites.

With the atmosphere in the hands of the public domain, residents of the world are finally free to walk through a field, gaze up at the protected sky, and breathe fresh air, with the knowledge that their skies and air will now be protected.

The World Conservation Union is “thrilled at this step that will help to uphold our group’s mission to conserve the world” and is looking into making the ocean a World Heritage Site also. “A gentleman from Not-Philip-Morris argued with me against recognizing the importance of the atmosphere. He said that the atmosphere isn’t cultural, so it isn’t within our purview,” said McWanger. “But, hey, I told him: No atmosphere, no humanity. No humanity, no culture. It’s a no-brainer.”

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8 responses to “The Latest World Heritage Site: The Atmosphere

  1. “… such wonders as Chichen-Itza and the city of Fez …” and, closer to home, the Niagara Escarpment.
    Why not just declare the entire planet, including its atmosphere — or while we’re at it the entire solar system — a Heritage Site?

  2. I will forward your recommendation to the World Heritage Committee.

  3. Robert Koch

    At one time the city of Los Angeles would have been in need of such protection. However, the smog problem is vastly improved, not completely, of course, thus we may not need the World Heritage Committee. But many places do. What about the Blue Mosque in Isfahan ?

    • I did not know the Blue Mosque in I. was a problem. I will certainlly denounce it to the Committee. Mr. Justice Horace Krever has raised an important question in his response to the blog.

  4. Horace Krever

    Surely the atmosphere’s consent shoud be obtained before the designation is made.

  5. The legal (and thus better) way to say that is “Omnia praesumuntur rite esse acta”.

    Putting the plaque up will be a challenge. I suppose they’ll have to find a place where the atmosphere is particularly thick – Mexico City, perhaps. Or Beijing in a sandstorm.