20 Shocking Photos of Our Planet in Danger

In honor of Earth Month, take a look at photos from around the globe that show just how extreme the challenges our planet faces, from mountains of garbage to severe weather

Photo: ALEXANDER GRIR/AFP/Getty Images
01 of 20

Birth of the 'Bomb Cyclone'

Maddie Meyer/Getty

The massive blizzard that hit in January 2018 stretched across the east coast, all the way down to Tallahassee, Florida, which was on record for having snow for the first time in almost 30 years. The damages from the "bomb cyclone" have been estimated to have cost $1.1 billion.

02 of 20

Tornado Watch Intensifies

Tornado damage
Tulsa World, Tom Gilbert/ AP Photo

In 2017, the United States had its fifth highest annual tornado count ever, resulting in 34 tornado-related deaths in areas across the South and Midwest.

03 of 20

Plastic Overload


This shot of a Chinese labourer, taken on September 17, 2015, shows the man sorting a massive pile of plastic bottles to recycle in Dong Xiao Kou village, which is right outside Beijing. China has recently cut back on importing recycling from the U.S., creating a pile-up of waste with no place to go but landfills.

04 of 20

Decimating Droughts


This aerial shot, taken on August 7, 2018, shows a herd of cattle crossing a dry paddock in New South Wales, Australia. A severe drought has ravaged parts of the country, putting farmers under instense financial and physical strain to grow their crops.

05 of 20

Heards of Hurricanes

Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock

Florence, Michael, and Harvey are names of some of the most destructive hurricanes to hit the U.S. within the last few years. Many have lost their loved ones and thousands have lost their homes and are still dealing with the devestating aftermath of each storm.

06 of 20

Overflowing Rivers


This March 2017 photo of a Plura, Peru resident depicts him wading through water on a street that became flooded after the rivers along the entire Peruvian coast started to overflow.

07 of 20

Strange Weather Firsts

Heavy Winter Precipitation In California Significantly Reduces Drought
Mario Tama/Getty Images

In 2019, Los Angeles residents experienced their first snowfall in years. The unusual weather event hit areas including Malibu, Pasadena, West Hollywood, Northridge, Thousand Oaks, and Calabasas - and came on the heels of devastating wildfires exacerbated in part by drought and deforestation.

08 of 20

Ravaging Wildfires

California Wildfire
David Little/Chico Enterprise-Record via AP

November 2018 marked a string of deadly wildfires in California that killed at least 80 people and left nearly 1,000 people missing.

09 of 20

Peak Pollution


This photo taken from Vodno Mountain in Macedonia on December 15, 2017 shows the tops of two of the highest buildings in the nation's capital, Skopje, rising above layers of pollution. The city has been named Europe's most polluted capital.

10 of 20

Unrelenting Rainfall

STR/AFP/Getty Images

This shot taken on July 8, 2017 shows security guards walking through a flooded street in Anshun, Guizhou province in China after a month of severe rainfall left 83 people dead or missing.

11 of 20

Garbage Dumps

Ashley Cooper/Specialiststock/Splashdown/REX/Shutterstock

A sea of trash takes up most of the tundra outside Illulissat in Greenland.

12 of 20

Record Breaking Heat

Swimmers crowd pool in Japan
The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images

2018 was declared the fourth-hottest year on record globally (2016 was recorded as first). People have flocked to pools to escape the intense heat.

This photo, taken on August 26, 2018, is of swimmers at an amusement facility in Tokyo on a day that was clocked at 97 degrees Fahrenheit.

13 of 20

Overwhelming Waste

India Feature Package Earth Day - Apr 2010
Divyakant Solanki/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

This photo, taken on April 9, 2010 in Mumbai, India, shows a snapshot of the 6,000 tons of garbage a day the city produces.

14 of 20

Animal Invasions


This photo of polar bears feeding at a garbage dump near the Russian village of Belushya Guba was taken on October 31, 2018. A state of emergency was declared later in February once dozens of polar bears were seen entering the villagers' homes and public buildings. Melting Arctic ice has forced these bears to spend more time on land competing for food.

15 of 20

Contaminated Water

India World Earth Day - Apr 2010
Piyal Adhikary/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

On the eve of World Earth Day in 2010, a photo taken in Kolkata, India showed a man taking a dip in a highly polluted local pond. It's a grim reminder that dumping waste into bodies of water has longterm, toxic effects - both for humans and for the animals who inhabit them.

16 of 20

Disappearing Forests

Florian Kopp/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that more than a quarter of the Amazon (like this section, in Brazil) will be without trees by 2030 if the current rate of deforestation continues.

17 of 20

Growing Greenhouse Gas

Air pollution in Calcutta, India - 24 Feb 2017
Piyal Adhikary/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

This shot of children playing near a garbage dump with high levels of air pollution in Kolkata, India, taken on February 24, 2017, is an example of life in a city that ranks the fifth highest in greenhouse gas and second highest in carbon dioxide emissions.

18 of 20

Smog City

HFT Stuttgart new masters course, Almaty - 27 Nov 2017
Igors Jefimov/Wikimedia Commons/AP/REX/Shutterstock

This image taken on November 27, 2017 depicts a thick layer of smog hovering over Almaty, Kazakhstan.

19 of 20

Dying of Thirst

The Devastating Drought in the Horn of Africa
Eric Lafforgue / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The people and animals of Yabelo, Ethiopia have been suffering from the worst drought in decades. A lack of rain has resulted in poor crops and dying livestock.

20 of 20

Dried Up Lakes


This image of a Malawian man, taken on October 18, 2018, shows him standing in Lake Chilwa, which was once the second-largest lake in Malawi and is now drying up completely.

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