In what is best described as "Herodotus meets American Idol," the Grand Canyon, the Amazon Basin, and the Great Barrier Reef are facing off as finalists along with 25 others in a global popularity contest to name the new Seven Wonders of Nature.
The poll is being conducted by the Swiss nonprofit New7Wonders Foundation. Also among the finalists are Mt. Vesuvius, the Dead Sea, and the Matterhorn, as well as some less well-known sites such as the Bu Tinah Shoals, an archipelago in the United Arab Emirates; and the Sundarbans Delta, a mangrove forest at the mouth of the Ganges River.
A panel of experts led by Federico Mayor, who served as chief of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999, narrowed the 28 finalists down from a list of 77 nominees chosen in an earlier round of polling. The BBC reports that the panel, which also includes Greenpeace co-founder Rex Wyler, made their choices based on "geographical balance, diversity and the importance to human life."
To vote, visit the New7Wonders website and submit a registration. You can also vote by phone or text message.
Visitors to the site can also purchase stamps, pins, and other merchandise, including the campaign's official theme song, "Another Time," by the Turkish-German pop singer Volkan Baydar. The song is available in two versions: anthem and ballade.
Winners will be announced in 2011. The campaign's organizers expect one billion people to vote, according to the New York Times (although it strains credulity to imagine nearly one-seventh of the world's population successfully navigating the site's registration process).
In 2007, the same group held a poll for the seven human-made wonders of the world, in which 100 million people voted. The winners were the Pyramid at Chichen Itza, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil, the Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Petra, and Machu Picchu.