All eyes were on climate activist Greta Thunberg this week as she ended her journey from England to New York via a sailboat powered by wind and solar energy. The 16-year-old Swede arrived in Manhattan on Wednesday and plans to participate in climate change protests and events ahead of the United Nations' General Assembly. While Thunberg conceded that not everyone has the time or luxury to travel by low-emission boat, she achieved her goal of raising awareness about the impact of travel and human activity on the environment.
Yet even as the world closely followed the teen's journey, with many cheering her on, efforts to fight the wildfires ravaging the Amazon Rainforest stalled. Earlier this week, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared to reject, then accept millions of dollars of international assistance to fight the fires from the G7, which convened this week in France. And though the global spotlight has primarily been on the fires in Brazil, wildfires also devastated parts of Spain, Greenland, Indonesia, and Greece over the past few weeks.
But Thunberg wasn't the only one who championed climate action and the need to protect the environment this week, the Brazilian public also called for urgent action to stop the fires. And Indigenous communities in Brazil, many of whose protected lands lie within the Amazon, called for the protection of the rainforest, which Bolsonaro has pushed to open up to mining and agricultural development.
In England, however, people took to the streets for very different reasons, with crowds in England protesting Brexit, which researchers warn could have a drastic impact on global economies that would hit the most vulnerable communities in developing countries with close ties to the UK the hardest. And in Hong Kong, demonstrators continue to gather in public spaces speaking out against an extradition bill that would allow the Chinese government to extradite those accused of crimes in Hong Kong to the mainland, which Hong Kong residents fear will undermine their justice and governance systems. But, increasingly, protesters are also speaking out against police brutality, alleging that police officers have sexually assaulted female demonstrators.
These striking photos show struggles from around the world this week, but they also show the power people have to call for change — from greater environmental protection to more gender equality.
1. Migrants in the Mediterranean: Migrants queue upon their arrival at the harbor of Malaga after being rescued by the Spanish coast guard from an inflatable boat carrying 132 migrants off the Spanish coast, on Aug. 29, 2019. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), over 34,000 people have risked their lives, fleeing persecution, conflicts, and human rights violations to seek safety in Europe by traveling through the Mediterranean Sea so far in 2019.
2. Wildfires in California: Firefighters battle a wildfire in Glendale near Los Angeles, California, on Aug. 25, 2019. Though California is no stranger to wildfires, what was once a seasonal concern is now a year-round worry as climate change has helped create the perfect storm for wildfires to happen more often and spread faster.
3. Fires in the Amazon: Charred trees stand as a forest fire sweeps through the Vila Nova Samuel region, along the road to the Jacunda National Forest near the city of Porto Velho, in Rondonia state, part of Brazil's Amazon, on Aug. 25, 2019. Experts from the country's satellite monitoring agency say most of the fires are set by farmers or ranchers clearing existing farmland, but the same monitoring agency has reported a sharp increase in deforestation this year as well. More than 39,000 wildfires — a record number — have been documented so far this year, a 77% increase from the year before. The fires have prompted international outcry, and in response Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has banned the use of legal fires to clear land for 60 days, according to the Washington Post. Brazil contains about 60% of the Amazon Rainforest and the Amazon provides 20% of the planet’s oxygen, houses millions of different species, regulates massive planetary systems, and buffers countries against the impacts of climate change. Its destruction would accelerate the decline of wildlife around the world and could unravel the progress that has been made in the global fight against extreme poverty. All of the United Nations Global Goals, for that matter, would be endangered by its loss.
4. Venezuelan Migrants: Leonel and Pedro help a fellow Venezuelan migrant on the Guaitara River to cross into Ecuador from Ipiales, Colombia, on Aug. 27, 2019. On Monday, the Ecuadorian government began demanding visas from Venezuelans seeking to enter the country, leaving the Venezuelans who are stranded on the Colombian and Ecuadorian border searching for alternative ways to enter the country. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the number of refugees and migrants fleeing Venezuela has reached 4.3 million and is still rising. The crisis in Venezuela has steadily grown over the past few years following the collapse of the country’s economy, widespread food insecurity, a faltering health care system, and violence.
5. Central American Immigration: A mother embraces her son after he and his father arrive in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on an ICE deportation flight from the US on Aug. 22, 2019. Under a new policy, ICE has begun expedited removal procedures for many Guatemalan families and adults arriving at the US-Mexico border. Migrants fleeing Central America's Northern Triangle region comprising Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, routinely cite poverty and rampant gang violence as their motivation for leaving.
6. Coral Breakthrough: Coral in tanks at Apollo Beach, Florida, on Aug. 22, 2019. A team of scientists in the US have managed to reproduce coral in a lab setting for the first time ever, an encouraging step in the race to save "America's Great Barrier Reef" off the coast of Florida.
7. Brazil's Indigenous Community: Children of the Nambikwara Sarare tribe climb trees as they play in their Indigenous reserve in the southwestern Amazon, near Conquista D'Oeste, in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, on Aug. 26, 2019. About 98% of all Brazil’s Indigenous lands lie within the Amazon and, according to the Associated Press, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has advocated for policies that would further marginalize the communities, pushing to open more Indigenous lands to agricultural activity and mining, while promising to "integrate those citizens." Additionally, their livelihoods are also being threatened by the more than 39,000 wildfires that have been documented in the Amazon so far this year, which is a 77% increase from the year before. Brazil contains about 60% of the Amazon Rainforest and the Amazon provides 20% of the planet’s oxygen, houses millions of different species, regulates massive planetary systems, and buffers countries against the ravages of climate change. Its destruction would accelerate the decline of wildlife around the world and could unravel the progress that has been made in the global fight against extreme poverty. All of the United Nations Global Goals, for that matter, would be endangered by its loss.
8. Greta Thunberg's Ocean Journey: Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, sails into New York harbor aboard the Malizia II, on Aug. 28, 2019. Thunberg left Plymouth, England, on Aug. 14 and traveled for 13 days and 18 hours across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat powered by wind and solar energy to draw attention to the greenhouse gas emissions released by the airline industry. Thunberg came to New York to participate in a series of events and protests leading up to the United Nations’ General Assembly with the goal of pressuring world leaders to commit to achieving the goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as laid out in the Paris climate agreement. She is scheduled to address the United Nations Climate Action Summit on Sept. 23.
9. Rising Sea Levels And Subsiding Land Endanger Louisiana Coast: Caleb Hanson, grandson of longtime shrimper Acy Cooper, empties a net of shrimp and bycatch during a more than 12-hour overnight shift of shrimping on Aug. 26, 2019, off the coast of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. The Cooper family are four generations of fishermen and shrimping is their family tradition. With the Mississippi River seeing historically high water levels earlier this year due to severe flooding in the Midwest, the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway in southern Louisiana has caused the the saltwater marshes to flood with fresh water. The fresh water has driven crabs, shrimp, and fish out of bays and marshes and further out to sea into saltier water where they can survive. According to a release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the spring shrimp season catch was down over 60% compared to the five-year average putting a strain on the fishermen who make their livelihood on the water.
10. Brexit Protests: Demonstrators hold placards as they protest on Whitehall, near the entrance to Downing Street in London, on Aug. 28, 2019. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sparked fury Wednesday among pro-Europeans and MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit by forcing the suspension of parliament weeks before Britain's scheduled departure date from the European Union. The pound slid on the surprise news, which opponents branded a "coup" and a "declaration of war," but Johnson claimed was necessary to allow him to pursue a "bold and ambitious" new domestic legislative agenda. While all eyes are on how Brexit will impact the UK and European economies, a study released in February by the German Development Institute has raised a question that’s been left out of many mainstream conversations: How could Brexit make life worse for people in developing countries? The study warns that Brexit could push hundreds of thousands of people around the world into extreme poverty, with people in developing countries that have the closest ties to the UK set to be hit the hardest.
11. Hong Kong Protest: A protester holds a sign at a #MeToo rally to protest alleged sexual assaults by police against anti-government female protesters in Hong Kong, on Aug. 28, 2019.
12. G7 Meetings in France: G7 leaders and guests pose for a family picture with the Biarritz lighthouse in the background on the second day of the annual G7 summit: (First row) L-R Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, African Union Chair Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US President Donald Trump, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Senegal's President Macky Sall, Burkina Faso's President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, European Council President Donald Tusk; (Second row) Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat (2nd,L), Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (4th,L), United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (6th,R), India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (5th,R), Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (3rd,R), OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria (2nd,R), African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina (R) on Aug. 25, 2019, in Biarritz, France.
13. Mining in Brazil: An aerial view of the Esperanca IV informal gold mining camp near the Menkragnoti Indigenous territory, in Altamira, Para state, Brazil, in the Amazon basin, on Aug. 28, 2019.
14. Newark Water Crisis: Protestors march outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city, on Aug. 26. Newark currently has drinking water lead levels higher than Flint, Michigan. Children are testing positive for lead in their blood and water bottles are being distributed to residents, yet the local, state, and federal government are doing little to address the root cause of this issue: lead corrosion contaminating Newark's drinking water. Participating community organizations included Extinction Rebellion, the Newark Water Coalition, the Green Party of New Jersey, the Newark Water Coalition, and the New Afrikan Black Panther Party.
15. Greta Thunberg Arrives in NYC: Supporters of Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg await her arrival at a marina in New York, on Aug. 28, 2019. Thunberg traveled for 13 days and 18 hours across the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat powered by wind and solar energy to draw attention to the greenhouse gas emissions released by the airline industry. Thundering applause and chants greeted 16-year-old Thunberg as she disembarked at the North Marina Cove in lower Manhattan, still woozy from the long journey. “The ground is still shaking for me,” Thunberg told the audience during a press conference. “I want to thank everyone so much, everyone who is here and everyone who’s involved in this climate fight because this is a fight across borders, across continents." Thunberg came to New York to participate in a series of events and protests leading up to the United Nations’ General Assembly with the goal of pressuring world leaders to commit to achieving the goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as laid out in the Paris climate agreement .
16. Flooding in Sudan: Sudanese people walk a flooded road in Wad Ramli village on the eastern banks of the Nile river, 50 kilometers north of Kharoum, Sudan, on Aug. 26, 2019. Flash floods from the Nile killed about 62 people and injured nearly 100, according to the official SUNA news agency. However, a health ministry official was quoated as saying that the crisis "did not reach the level of being declared a disaster."
17. Weather in Japan: An aerial view shows submerged houses and buildings following heavy rains in Omachi, Saga prefecture, Japan, on Aug. 28, 2019. Two people were confirmed dead as heavy rains pounded southwest Japan, prompting flood and landslide warnings. Approximately 670,000 people were ordered to seek safety.
18. India Flooding: Children ride bicycles along a flooded road as the water level of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers rises in Allahabad, India, on Aug. 28, 2019.