A recap of what happened in the last few months

Like many people on New Year’s eve, I was very hopeful that 2021 could bring hope and change especially after a very challenging pandemic year. I was excited at the prospect of leaving my lockdown life behind, to see family and loved ones- to finally live and experience life without fear. Unfortunately, things have not changed much for most of the world. The ‘new normal’ is normal now. 

While Covid-19 remains a threat, many of us forgot about the other bigger threat to humanity. A looming monster that has been around for much longer putting millions in harm’s way. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet for this menace and once again, the world needs to tackle this problem collectively, head-on.

At the start of 2021, the world was beset by climate emergencies one after another. We have seen extreme weather events, from the chilling polar vortex in North America, the super cyclones in Africa, to the devastating floods in Australia and parts of Asia. There were also record-breaking sandstorms and unprecedented wildfires.

Scientists have long sounded the alarm on the climate crisis. Until world governments come together and commit to ambitious action for climate and social equity, no one is safe. 


Record-breaking snow in Spain

The year started with an unprecedented snowstorm in Spain. On the 8th of January, Filomena brought record-breaking cold waves and heavy snowfall in the Spanish capital Madrid which has not experienced such a phenomenon since 1917. Filomena also paralyzed many parts of the country, disrupting air and land transport.

Flash floods in Indonesia

Floods caused by seasonal heavy rainfall, massive land clearing for palm oil and coal mining in South Kalimantan resulted in water levels rising up to two meters. The floods inundated hundreds of houses and forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes and find shelter on higher ground.

Floods in South Kalimantan. © Putra / Greenpeace
Residents wade through the floods in Sungai Raya village, Banjar Regency, South Kalimantan. Flooding caused by seasonal heavy rainfall and massive land clearing for palm oil and coal mining in South Kalimantan resulted in water levels rising up to two meters, inundating hundreds of houses and forced thousands of residents to flee their homes and find shelter on higher ground. © Putra / Greenpeace

Snowstorm in South Korea

Seoul, South Korea recorded its coldest day in 35 years. On January 5th, official overnight temperature hit -18.6ºC, the lowest since January 5, 1986.

ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images
Snowfall in Seoul. © ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images

Cyclone Eloise in Africa

Cyclone Eloise, the third cyclone to hit the Mozambican coast since 2019, affected more than 250,000 people, displacing at least 18,000 and destroying schools, roads, and other vital infrastructure. It led to at least 27 deaths and damages in Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa.

Tropical Cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique, AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images
An image grab taken from an AFP TV video shows fallen utility poles in a street of the port city of Beira on January 24, 2021, after Tropical Cyclone Eloise hit Mozambique. © AFPTV/AFP via Getty Images


Polar vortex in Texas

Texas was hit by a powerful polar vortex, with record-setting low temperatures that cut state power lines and water systems, leaving millions in the cold.

Floods in Indonesia’s West Java

Seasonal rains triggered flash floods in Indonesia’s West Java island. Rivers swelled. Houses were covered up to 40 to 100 inches of water. Thousands were displaced and left homeless.

Flooded regions of Acre, Brazil

Floods inundated several cities in the Amazon rainforest. Local cities and villages were badly hit. Aside from battling Covid-19, the Indigenous populations of the region have had to compromise their diet due to the destruction of their plantations.

Overflight in Sena Madureira under Flood, Acre, Brazil. © Alexandre Noronha / Greenpeace
In addition to diseases, such as Covid-19, the indigenous populations of the state have compromised their diet due to the destruction of subsistence plantations. Some villages were completely submerged after flooding the rivers. The indigenous peoples of Acre, who are currently facing the coronavirus pandemic, floods and dengue outbreaks. © Alexandre Noronha / Greenpeace

Kenya’s locust attacks

Since 2019, Kenya has experienced unprecedented threats from desert locust invasion linked to climate change. Locust invasions put millions of Kenyans at risk of food and nutrition insecurity. Measures- such as the use of toxic pesticides that have been scientifically proven to cause harm to either the environment, humans or non-target organisms such as bees, fish and ants to control locusts-  raise pertinent questions. 

Desert locusts in Kenya, YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images
A local farmer chasing away desert locusts at maize field in Meru, Kenya. © YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images


Beijing sandstorm

Beijing experienced its worst sandstorm in a decade, with the city shrouded in a yellow haze

Australian floods

After the worst bushfires in 2020, Australian witnessed devastating floods in many cities this year.

Devastating Floods in NSW, Australia. © Dean Sewell
NSW Floods 2021. Major flooding of the Hawkesbury River after days of torrential rain saw river levels in Windsor match that of the April 1988 and July 1990 flood event. The Hawkesbury River on this day had peaked at 12.92m. A submerged street light stands in near 10 meters of water near Maraylya. © Dean Sewell


Forest fires in Nepal

Firefighters at work to extinguish a forest fire in the Nagarkot area of Bhaktapur District, some 32 km North, east of Kathmandu.

Firefighters are at work to extinguish a forest fire in the Nagarkot area of Bhaktapur District, some 32 km North, east of Kathmandu at midnight. © PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images

Floods in Angola

Flash floods hit the coastal city of Luanda, leaving 14 dead and displacing more than 11,000 people. The hours-long storm pounded the capital triggering flash floods that brought down buildings and swept away trees and cars.

A resident throws out floodwater from her house in the Futungo District in Luanda, Angola, on April 20, 2021, after the heavy rains on April 19, 2021. – Flash floods triggered by torrential rains killed 14 people and displaced around 11,000 others in the Angolan capital Luanda. © OSVALDO SILVA/AFP via Getty Images

Another sandstorm hits Beijing

Beijing experienced yet another sandstorm as the city turned orange for days.