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2020 in Review

By Violet, Rhea, & Quincey


January

Photo Credit: Brett Hemmings via Getty Images

Australian Wildfires

The wildfires of late 2019 continued to ravage the Australian continent, spreading over 46 million acres and destroying thousands of homes in their path. The fires caused the deaths of around 500 people and killed, injured, and displaced roughly 3 billion animals.



February


Did you know? February of 2020 was the second warmest February on record.

March


The Bering Sea Ice Cover: 77,000 square miles of thin ice covering the Bering Sea melted due southerly winds pushing warm water and air towards the sea. This marks the largest drop in March Bering Sea ice on record.


March Temperatures: Global ocean and land surface temperatures were measured at 2.09 ºF above average.

April


Deforestation increased in Brazil, destroying the Amazon rainforest: Deforestation rates in the Amazon increased by 40% from 2019 by the end of April 2020.


Photo Credit: Florin Baumann via Getty Images


50th Anniversary of Earth Day!

Earth Day is one of the longest standing, global civic events! This year's anniversary centered around the theme of climate action.




May


Did you know? May of 2020 is tied with May of 2016 for the warmest May on record. During this month, the United Nations also reported an increasing rate of biodiversity decline.

June




Overall, June 2020 saw 6.74% of the world's land and ocean surfaces with a record high June temperature.




July


Heat Wave Record: The Baltimore, Maryland heat wave broke a century-old record for continuous high temperatures and also resulted in multiple heat-related deaths.


Sea-Level Rise: Hundreds of superfund sites, toxic waste sites whose cleaning and maintenance are funded by the United States government, were declared to be at risk of flooding for the next 20 years.

August


California Wildfires: Hundreds of wildfires blazed across the state of California, resulting in costs of over two billion dollars and roughly 30 human deaths. As of December 24th, 2020, the fires are 90% contained. Overall, CAL FIRE reports that 2020 endured 8,112 fires that burned more than 1.44 million acres of land in California alone.


Canada Loses its Last Arctic Shelf: The Milne Ice Shelf, which is the size of Manhattan, NY and is Canada's last arctic shelf, collapsed. The ice shelf lost around 40% of its area by the end of July due to rising air temperatures, which then led to further calving in early August.


Death Valley Temperature Record: Death Valley, CA, reached 129.9 ºF, setting a world record for the hottest temperature recorded recently.


The Atlantic Hurricane Season: The Atlantic hurricane season of 2020 was the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record, and it brought deadly and costly hurricanes. Hurricane Laura, a category four hurricane, was the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the state of Louisiana.

September


Did you know? According to The United Nations, one tenth of people breathe polluted air worldwide.

Photo Credit: Oscar J. Barroso via Getty Images



Global Climate Strikes

Whether participating virtually or in person, over seven million people joined in climate strikes all over the world to fight for urgent climate action.




October


Pledges for Carbon Neutrality by 2050: Japan's new leader sets ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Following suit, South Korea formally commits to cutting emissions to net zero by 2050. The EU had previously set a similar goal in 2019, likely a factor in the formal pledges made by Japan and South Korea. Managing Director of Solutions For Our Climate, a South Korean campaign group, Joojin Kim mentioned reducing the construction of coal power plants as a first step.


Philippines Declares Moratorium on New Coal Power Plants: Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi announced that the Philippines will no longer accept coal power plant building proposals. This is seen as part of the Philippines' effort to switch to using renewable energy.

November


Did you know? November of 2020 is the second hottest November on record.

  • United States President-Elect Commits to Re-Joining the Paris Agreement: After President Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement in early November, President-Elect Biden pledged to re enter into the agreement as soon as February. As the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world, the United States is considered a key player on the global climate action stage.

December

Photo Credit: Michael Kappeler via Getty Images

Climate Ambition Summit

At the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, United Nations leaders from 76 countries around the world met virtually to reflect on their original goals from 2015 and discuss their new goals moving forward. Recognizing the growing urgency of the situation, they drafted ambitious goals, such as working towards net zero emissions, all while creating a platform for people from all walks of life to share their voices.


Photo Credit: Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Danger

As the January 20th Inauguration Day quickly approaches, the Trump administration pushes to make several last minute changes and enforce new policies. One such rushed attempt being the potential sale of a large area of protected land in Alaska, known as the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, which is home to both. Trying to follow up on a promise made years ago to drilling companies, the government would be endangering the indigenous peoples and thousands of unique Arctic animals that call the refuge home by selling off this land. Public fears over this possibility grew, especially towards the end of December, during which over five million letters were written to the government urging it to reconsider this sale.

If you want to join the movement, feel free to write your own letter to the Trump administration here! The letter is pre-written and all you have to do is fill out a few details and hit send!:

https://www.nrdc.org/protect-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge

2020 Overview

  • Climate Change & COVID-19: While the stay-at-home restrictions of COVID-19 initially decreased traffic and industrial pollution, the positive reductions were short lived because carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere soon reached an all time high. The pandemic also delayed the COP26, the United Nations' climate change conference, until November of 2021, leading youth climate activists to host the Mock COP, a virtual summit replacement, in November.

  • 2020 in History: Mostly attributed to high temperatures in the Siberian Arctic last year, 2020 will likely rank as one of the three hottest years on record (behind 2016 and before 2019), according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

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