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.”