2020 has seen East Africa plagued by swarms of desert locusts. Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner
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- Reuters Pictures of the year: Environment collection includes California’s worst ever wildfire season.
- Plagues of locusts in Africa and deforestation in the Amazon also feature.
- Floods in Japan and Central America were among 2020’s extreme weather events.
- The photographs also show images of hope and resilience.
While COVID-19 has dominated headlines, 2020 has also been a big year for the environment.
From California’s worst-ever wildfire season, to melting ice sheets, the signs of climate change have been inescapable worldwide.
But there’s also been good news for the environment. By early next year, countries representing more than 65% of global carbon dioxide emissions and more than 70% of the world economy will have committed to carbon neutrality, according to the UN.
Photographers have captured some of the biggest moments of the year - here’s just a snapshot of Reuters’ 60 Pictures of the year: Environment.
1. Locust plague in Africa
Huge swarms of desert locusts raised fears about food security during East Africa’s growing season this year. Adult desert locusts can eat their own bodyweight in vegetation every day.
Baz Ratner’s image shows a woman from the Turkana tribe at the village of Lorengippi near the town of Lodwar, Turkana county, Kenya.
2. Toxic air in India
New Delhi, India has the poorest air quality of any capital city and in November suffered its most toxic day in a year. The concentration of poisonous PM2.5 particles in the air was recorded at 14 times the World Health Organization’s safe limit.
This photo, taken by Danish Siddiqui, shows a New Delhi residential area shrouded in smog.
3. Record temperatures in California
In August, California’s Death Valley National Park recorded one of the highest temperatures ever reliably recorded on Earth - 130F (54.4C).
David Becker’s image shows Steve Krofchik of Las Vegas keeping cool with a bottle of ice on his head.
4. Bushfires burn Australia
Record high temperatures and severe drought fuelled months of devastating bushfires across Australia at the start of the year.
In Tracey Nearmy’s image, Nancy and Brian Allen stand outside their house amidst smoke and ash from the Currowan Fire in New South Wales.
5. Earth Day up close
April 22, 2020 was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which marks the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
In Akhtar Soomro’s photograph, taken on Earth Day, a boy walks over a drainage channel littered with heaps of polythene bags in Karachi, Pakistan.
6. Activist in the Arctic
Environmental activist and campaigner Mya-Rose Craig, 18, holds a cardboard sign reading "youth strike for climate" as she sits on an ice floe in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, in this image by Natalie Thomas.
7. The PPE waste problem
COVID-19 has created a new threat to wildlife and the environment – growing volumes of waste personal protective equipment, including single-use PPE.
In Peter Nicholls’ image, a seagull carries a face mask at the port of Dover in Britain.
8. Devastating floods in Japan
In July, record-breaking heavy rain hit the prefectures of Kumamoto and Kagoshima in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, killing at least 44 people as a result of flooding and landslides.
Kim Kyung-Hoon’s image captures some of the devastation in Kumamura, Kumamoto Prefecture.
9. Worst wildfires in California
This photo by Ringo Chiu shows residents watching the Blue Ridge Fire in Yorba Linda, California.
10. Let the light shine through
A rainbow of hope. In Siaya county, Kenya, Thomas Mukoya photographs a double rainbow stretching above a woman holding an umbrella and selling snacks.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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