Each year that the fossil fuel status quo is allowed to continue is another terrible year for the Earth. 2016 was no exception — emissions actually increased throughout the year.

While there were many significant breakthroughs throughout the year, the planet also suffered many significant setbacks: temperatures climbed, storms grew, droughts and floods intensified, forests were mowed down, corals reefs deteriorated, animal life plummeted, and so on. 

Let's hope 2017 marks a significant shift toward a renewable future. In the meantime, here's a look back at some of the things that the planet had to deal with in 2016. 

Rising Temperatures

2016 Will Be the Hottest Year On Record, Again.

Image: Flickr: Chris Ford

This is the third straight record-breaking year of heat.

June, in Particular, Was Extremely Hot

Image: Pixabay/Stevepb

This was the 14th straight month of record temperatures.

And the Arctic Was Somehow 36 Degrees Hotter Than Normal

Beautiful Ice in the Arctic
Image: Flickr, Christopher Michel

At a certain point soon, the Arctic could enter an unstoppable feedback loop of melting ice and rising temperatures.

Changing Planet

The First US Climate Refugees Are Being Resettled

Image: Flickr: Karen Apricot

The 60 people on the Isle de Jean Charles, in Louisiana, have families that have lived there for generations. They don’t want to leave.

This Mammal Went Extinct From Climate Change

Image: Queensland government

This small rodent was the first extinction to ever be attributed to climate change.

The World's Wildlife Declined 58% in 42 Years

Image: Flickr: Rainforest Action Network

Forests are being razed, deserts are growing, rivers are being choked with pollution, oceans are being stripped of their ecosystems.

World’s Coffee Supply Is Threatened

Image: Flickr: countercoffeeculture

This is not a joke.

Stephen Hawking Gives Us 1,000 Years — Tops

A thousand years is a long time from now — but in the grand scheme of things it’s just a blink.

Air Pollution

90% of People Breathe Dangerous Air

Image: Flickr: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

If you live in a city, you probably breathe dangerous air.

6.5 Million People Die Each Year From Dirty Air

Image: Flickr: Josh

In the most heavily polluted cities, the air is a serious threat to health.

Turns Out, Rio’s Air Is More Deadly Than Its Water

That’s saying something. Some of the water sources proposed for the Olympics were so contaminated that illness was all but guaranteed.

Tehran’s Air Pollution Reached New Extremes

Image: AP

Tehran has some of the thickest air pollution in the world. Over a few days this year, it killed scores of people.


Remember the “Super" El Nino?

Image: World Vision

This beast of a storm changed climates all around the world and it was turbocharged by climate change.

This Typhoon Was Even Stronger

This even bigger beast of a storm landed in China.

Hurricane Matthew Devastated Haiti

Haiti is the last country that can handle a devastating hurricane.

Deadly Baton Rouge Flooding Tied to Climate Change

More than two feet of rain fell, completely overwhelming the city.


Africa’s Coal Boom Continues

It’s cheap, it’s effective, but it’s killing the planet.

Some Drivers Spew Smog Into the Air for No Reason

Image: Youtube

This is actually happens.

These Are the World's Most Wasteful Cities

Guess who tops the list?

These Are the Most Endangered Animals in the World

Two giraffes with spotsImage: Getty Images

Animals can’t adapt to changing environments as easily as humans can.

Australia Fired One of the World’s Best Climate Scientists

Image: Flickr: UCAR

John Church has made indispensable contributions to the global understanding of climate change.

2015 Was the Deadliest Year for Environmentalists Ever

185 of the fiercest defenders of the planet were murdered in 2015.

These 2 Infrastructure Disasters Highlight the Challenges Ahead

Image: Flickr: EARTHWORKS

If the US can’t build a sustainable society, will developing countries be able to?

And This Secret Global Trade Deal Wants to Stop Renewable Energy

Image: George Osodi/Panos for Oxfam America

Yes, this is a thing.


Defend the Planet

24 Times Earth Suffered in 2016

By Joe McCarthy