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2020 Year in Review: Environment/Climate Crisis

To recap 2020, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we’ve covered this year. Today we’re looking at stories about the environment and the climate crisis.

East Africa Struggles with Swarms of Locusts

Part of settled swarm of Schistocerca gregaria photographed near Aeterba, Red Sea coast, Sudan, 2007.
Huge swarms of locusts are attacking farms and fields in the East African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. Billions of insects are moving through the area, destroying crops in the worst locust invasion in years.

Warm Oceans Threaten Great Barrier Reef Corals

Bleached branching coral (Acropora sp.) at Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef. Author: J. Roff
The group in charge of caring for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef reports that the reef is going through its third “bleaching” event in five years. Record-setting ocean temperatures are threatening the health of this important underwater environment.

Green Energy Beats Coal for First Time in 135 Years

Graph showing fall of coal use and rise of renewable energy in the US.
For the first time in over 135 years, the United States got more energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, and water energy, than it did from coal. That’s a big change, and it may be the beginning of the end for coal.

Microplastics Rain Down in Protected Lands

Montage of pictures of Microplastics.
Scientists have discovered that massive amounts of microplastics are falling into remote areas in protected US national parks every year. The tiny bits of plastic are carried there by winds and rains.

Arctic Heat Wave, Wildfires – a Global Problem

The map shows land surface temperature anomalies from March 19 to June 20, 2020.
Dry conditions and a record-setting heat wave in the Arctic have led to huge wildfires across the region. The wildfires are releasing massive amounts of pollution, making further warming and more fires likely.

Polar Bears Could Disappear by 2100

Polar Bears Across the Arctic Face Shorter Sea Ice Season. Polar bears already face shorter ice seasons - limiting prime hunting and breeding opportunities.
Scientists predict that most polar bears will die out by the year 2100 because of global warming. Even if global warming is slowed, the loss of polar ice means most polar bears will still be seriously affected.

Chinese Fishing Ships Threaten Galapagos Sea Life

Map showing location of Chinese fishing fleet outside of Ecuadorian waters.
Ecuador is carefully watching a huge group of 260 Chinese fishing boats located just outside a special protected ocean area near the Galapagos Islands. The government is worried that the ships could threaten many endangered fish and sharks.

US West Struggles to Contain Massive Wildfires

View of Bobcat Fire from Monrovia, CA, September 10, 2020
States in the western United States are having one of the worst wildfire seasons in history. The blazes have burned massive amounts of forest, forced tens of thousands from their homes, and killed dozens.

Moving Forward with Climate Action

Kein Grad weiter: Klimademo von Fridays For Future, Berlin, 25.09.2020
During the coronavirus pandemic, much of the world has been distracted from focusing on a problem that could be far more serious – the climate crisis. Today, NFK looks at three recent new stories of climate action.

Five Years After Paris Deal, World Waits For Action

French Foreign Minister, UN Secretary-General Ban, and French President Hollande Raise Their Hands After Representatives of 196 Countries Approved a Sweeping Environmental Agreement at COP21 in Paris
Last Saturday marked exactly five years since the world’s countries reached a historic agreement in Paris to fight the climate crisis. Though some progress has been made since then, the climate crisis is more serious now than ever before.



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