I heard about it but ignored it. 

I saw it coming but just ignored it.

I saw that it was happening in the Poles. But no one lives there, so I wasn’t bothered. 

I heard that it’s happening on some remote island, but it’s so far away.

But now, suddenly, it’s hitting too close to home.  

This is exactly how many of us have reacted to climate change over the years, until suddenly we start seeing and feeling the impacts ourselves.

Global warming and rising temperatures have no boundaries. In 2021, extreme weather events occurred globally in almost every month of the year. These images are a visual archive, bearing witness to the impacts and the struggles faced by millions of people in 2021. From snowstorms to flash floods, these extreme weather events demonstrate how no one is safe and no economy is secure in a climate emergency.

It is now Code Red for humanity. Climate change can no longer be ignored or denied. We are now at a crucial point in history. Our survival as a species largely depends on what we do starting today. Individual actions matter. But collectively, we can achieve more especially if governments address the climate crisis by decarbonising their economies and transitioning to cleaner renewable energy.

Now more than ever, we must raise our voices and hold governments and fossil fuel companies accountable. Will you join us?

Polar vortex

Record-breaking cold wave and heavy snowfall in the Spanish capital Madrid which has not experienced such a phenomenon since 1917. A month later, Texas in the USA 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.

Cyclone 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

Sandstorm in China

This year Beijing, China was hit with its worst sandstorm in a decade, with the city shrouded in a yellow haze mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels. To protect people from breathing this poisonous air, governments must take immediate action to phase out fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas and bring back blue skies.

Flooding in Australia

Torrential rains and flash floods swept across New South Wales, Australia. These floods that have inundated properties, closed schools and left many isolated and cut off from essential services like hospitals are made worse by the continued dependence on coal, oil and gas. 

Forest fire in the Mediterranean region

Turkey experienced its worst fires in at least a decade. Thousands of people battled almost 100 separate blazes in cities and villages on the country’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. The flames have been fueled by scorching summer temperatures and conditions that experts said have been worsened by climate change. Similar news was reported from Greece, Lebanon, Morocco and Israel.

Flash floods in Europe 

More than 100 people died from the severe floods that devastated parts of Europe. Places in Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and France were severely impacted.

Flash floods in Asia

Flash floods continued to spread havoc across Asia. We saw dramatic visuals from China where people were stuck in flooded subway trains. Flash floods were also recorded in Japan, Indonesia and India displacing millions.

Fire Monitoring in the Amazon 

Aerial view of recently deforested areas for the expansion of livestock, in Porto Velho, Rondônia state. Every year, Greenpeace Brazil flies over the Amazon to monitor deforestation build up and forest fires. From September 12-14, flights were made over points with Deter (Real-Time Deforestation Detection System) and Prodes (Brazilian Amazon Satellite Monitoring Project) fire warnings, besides heat spots alerted by Inpe (National Institute for Space Research), in Amazonas, Rondônia, Mato Grosso and Pará states.

Forest Fires in Argentina

Forest fires burned 30,000 hectares in Patagonia, Argentina. High temperatures were due to climate change. Strong winds promoted the rapid spread of the fires- this is a pattern seen in different parts of the world. 

Wildfires and Worsening Drought in California

Once again, wildfires gripped California, USA, a state that has also been facing drought and life-threatening heatwave. Smoke from the wildfires in the west has been visible — and lowering air quality — across the entire country, even as far east as New York City. 

More than 11.2 million people in California are at an elevated risk of wildfires. By 2050, California is projected to see more than 140 days a year with high wildfire potential.

Russian forest fire

Early this year, fires spread across eastern Russia, with Siberia’s Yakutia region hit hardest. The fires hitting Siberia are so extreme that they’ve sent smoke streaming to the North Pole. 

Russia has experienced abnormally dry and hot weather conditions which caused fires to spread at an alarming rate. Greenpeace Russia staff joined forces with volunteer firefighters, local authorities and residents to contain the fires.

Tornado in the United States

Whether it’s sea-level rise due to flooding or warmer ocean temperatures leading to stronger winds and rains or tornadoes, the scientific connections between climate change and extreme weather events are clear.

At least 88 people were killed by the tornado outbreak that destroyed a nursing home in Arkansas, as well wreaking havoc in other parts of Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri.

Kentucky Tornado Damage. © Ron Alvey / Greenpeace
Tornado damage in Mayfield, Kentucky. © Ron Alvey / Greenpeace