Here's What The Grim Reality Of Climate Change Looked Like In 2020

From heat records to a relentless series of hurricanes, weather-related destruction was on full display in 2020.

Death Valley, California

A shirtless man sweats with a frozen gallon of water on his head, standing in front of a thermometer that reads "130 degrees Fahrenheit, 59 degrees celsius"

2020 has felt like catastrophe upon catastrophe — even without the tragic consequences of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The year is set to be either the hottest or the second-hottest on record, coming on the heels of the hottest decade ever recorded. Death Valley hit the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth in August, and the same month saw fires, floods, and intense storms around the world. The Atlantic Ocean saw its busiest hurricane season in modern history, with 30 named storms. Parts of the Gulf Coast and Central America were repeatedly hit, giving residents little chance to regroup or rebuild.

The truth of climate change is that it makes the weather more dramatic — more fires, more floods, more droughts, more heat, more extremes. No region was spared in 2020; there was havoc on every continent. Countries such as Honduras saw drought-induced water shortages until it was slammed by hurricanes that caused widespread flooding. France was flooding when it wasn't burning. Typhoons and cyclones left cities across Asia and Africa flooded and millions of residents either uprooted or dependent on aid — or both.

Widespread demonstrations for climate action were commonplace before the pandemic, led by schoolchildren around the world. While China has pledged to slash its emissions, the United States recently left the Paris agreement, the first-ever global commitment for reducing carbon emissions. And scientists say we are only experiencing the beginning effects of climate change.

Here, BuzzFeed News compiled some of the most dramatic weather-related photos from 2020.

Hereford, England

Central Michigan

Shangrao, China


Luther, Iowa

Lake Charles, Louisiana

La Couronne, France

Whitewater, California

Oroville, California

San Francisco, California

Mato Grosso, Brazil

Talent, Oregon

Great Salt Lake, Utah

Saint-Martin-Vésubie, France

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Senekal, South Africa

Rubio, Venezuela

Crete, Greece

Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua

Marikina City, the Philippines

Rodriguez, Philippines

La Lima, Honduras

Brandenburg, Germany

Ilulissat, Greenland

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