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DATE: Various times in 2021

PLACES: Nidderau, Germany; Dhanbad, India; Sequoia Crest, Calif.; Limni, Greece; Suesca, Colombia

PHOTOGRAPHERS: Michael Probst; Altaf Qadri; Noah Berger; Thodoris Nikolaou; Fernando Vergara.


Scenes from a warming world:

In Germany, a train passes a railroad crossing surrounded by floodwaters. In one of India’s poorest states — and one of its most vulnerable to climate change — a man climbs a ridge with a scavenged basket of coal against a color-drenched backdrop. In California, a dreamlike tableau unfolds as a man climbs a giant sequoia in an effort to preserve sequoia DNA in the face of encroaching wildfires.

In Greece, a man stands off a beach, his legs submerged, and watches a wildfire burn across the water. And in Colombia, a landscape of cracked mud to the horizon evokes a sci-fi world in a far-off galaxy even as it tells the story of a drying lagoon parched by climate change right here on Earth.

As the world’s climate changes, AP photographers challenged themselves in 2021 to chronicle it in visual ways that will make an impact and get people thinking. Apart, these images do that. Together, they represent a scrapbook of a planet hurtling toward a destiny that, some say, it is simply unwilling to prevent.



MICHAEL PROBST, Associated Press photographer:

“AP photographers around the world covered floods, fires, droughts and starvation last year. And it is clear that climate change and global warming are contributing to some of those catastrophes.”

For the dramatic photo here: “Following a tip of from a colleague, I went to the region near Frankfurt that was flooded since a couple of days due to heavy rainfalls. I started my drone, flew about 500 meters over flooded fields and reached the railroad crossing. I waited for a train to come, shot exactly one frame and flew back because the battery was low.”


For a full overview of the events that shaped 2021, “A Year That Changed Us: 12 Months in 150 Photos,” a collection of AP photos and journalists’ recollections, is available now: