Environmental recap 2020
Photo credit: Markus Spiske, Sarah Craig, Lorie Shaull, and Cheryl Strahl

The dire state of the environment is one of humanity’s greatest challenges. Here are some of our 2020 environmental stories you may have missed.

Among all the heartbreaking issues facing humanity this year, climate change is still the greatest long-term threat we face. Temperatures and sea levels have risen, glaciers have shrunk, drought and storms have become more frequent and intense. And climate change is a threat for which we are largely responsible. We must do far more to reverse it, and soon.

Below are stories about the ways that we (mis)treat our planet and what might be done to prevent further damage.


US-Canada Plastic Trade Deal Subverts Basel Convention

As the Basel Convention receives a major update, outsiders like the US may suddenly have to face their own trash.

Camp, Sheenjek River, ANWR

The Sheenjek River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Alaska Region U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Flickr

Arctic Refuge Parceled Out for Sale in Trump’s Final Push

Meet the opposition the Trump administration faces as it pushes to auction off one of Alaska’s last remaining wild places to the oil and gas industry.

Breath by Breath: Living by the AQI in San Francisco Bay

COVID-19 and spontaneous wildfires were bad enough; now it’s the quality of the air which keeps us prisoners in our own homes.

Austin, Texas, Tropical Storm Laura

Austin fire officials help hundreds of east Texans and west Louisiana residents get settled at the Circuit of the Americas race track after evacuating low-lying areas about to get hit by Hurricane Laura on the Gulf Coast, August 26, 2020. Photo credit: © Bob Daemmrich/ZUMA Wire

Hurricanes Rage While the RNC Ignores Climate Change

In an unprecedented year for climate disasters, the RNC opted to lambaste Democrats rather than face the two storms raging in the Gulf and the fires in California.

How to Get Climate Change Deniers on Board With Science

If neither scientific consensus nor the increasingly obvious effects of global warming can convince climate change deniers, what will?

Tori Satow,

Tori Satow on a hike in West Virginia. Photo credit: courtesy of Beth Okolish

Water Woes in the World’s Wealthiest Nation

There’s a secret water crisis in America. Two million people across the US lack access to running water and basic indoor plumbing. Keystone, WV, has gone without reliable water for almost a year. Local Tori Satow is fed up and determined to make a difference. 

As the World Burns, Big Oil Executives Get Rich Fueling the Fire

While you are doing your small part to save the environment, oil and gas executives are getting bonuses for destroying it. 

Brown University students

Left to right: Brown University students Jessie Sugarman, Andrew Javens, Cole Triedman, and David Wingate. Photo credit: Courtesy of Timmons Roberts

Students Expose Plot to Cast Doubt on Climate Change

Who is blocking meaningful progress on climate change? Four undergraduate students set out to find the answers. 

Australia, wildfires

Catastrophic fires in Davistown, a southeastern suburb of the Central Coast region of New South Wales, Australia, on November 12, 2019. Photo credit: Rob Russell / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

‘We Sleep in Our Gas Masks’: Eyewitness to Australia’s Firestorm

A despairing resident, living in the path of the Australian “fire apocalypse,” describes the horror of the great climate change disaster. 

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Karsten Wurth / Unsplash.

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