By Maïa Booker
2016 was a challenging year for people and the planet. It brought many challenges that will continue in the year ahead—a changing climate, greedy corporations and politicians whose policies spell trouble for the planet.
As we look back on 2016, it's clear there's a lot of work still to be done. It's difficult to pick just a few images among the more than 20,000 images our photographers have made while covering the struggle for a green and peaceful future all around the world. Here are some of this year's highlights and a reminder of why we need to continue the good fight. We couldn't have done this work without all of you, thank you and on to 2017!
As part of the 5-year Fukushima and 30-year Chernobyl anniversaries, Greenpeace commissioned Greg McNevin for a Lightmapping project. Using long exposure photography and a custom made geiger counter-enabled LED light painting tool, these images make the invisible visible: measuring and displaying radiation levels in real-time, in the environments in which it exists.
Photo credit: Greg McNevin / Greenpeace
Aerial view of a FAD (fish aggregating device) at night. The Esperanza was in the Indian Ocean in April to document and peacefully oppose destructive fishing practices.
Photo credit: Will Rose
A Greenpeace Indonesia investigator documents the devastation of a company-identified 'No Go' area of peatland in the PT Bumi Sawit Sejahtera (IOI) oil palm concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. This area of the concession suffered extensive fires in 2015.
Photo credit: Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing its worst bleaching event to date with studies showing 93 percent of the reef being affected. Bleaching is caused by the warmer water temperatures. This gives a window into the impacts of climate change.
Photo credit: Abram Powell / Greenpeace
Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi performs one of his own compositions on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, in front of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier (in Svalbard, Norway).
The composition, Elegy for the Arctic, was inspired by 8 million voices from around the world calling for Arctic protection. The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise carried Einaudi, the grand piano and 8 million voices to Svalbard.
Photo credit: Pedro Armestre
In August 2016, Greenpeace Brazil flew over the Amazon to search for and record forest fires.This shows the level of deforestation, in Rondônia state, next to the capital Porto Velho. This year's forest fire season is already being considered one of the worst ever.
Photo credit: Greenpeace
Water Protectors engineered a makeshift wooden pedestrian bridge over the Cantapeta Creek. They were trying to access ancestral burial grounds they believe are being damaged by the Dakota Access Pipeline construction. Heavily armed law enforcement officials were deployed. As they pulled the bridge apart with boats, the Water Protectors swam and used their own boats to cross the water.
Standing unarmed in the cold water, the protectors were forcibly repelled by the enforcers with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Standoffs between the Water Protectors and law enforcement over the Dakota Access Pipeline continue in the area that has become ground zero for opposition to a $3.7 billion project that would move domestic crude oil across four states and destroy tribal lands.
Photo credit: Richard Bluecloud Castaneda / Greenpeace
The landscape north of Clyde River, near Sam Ford Fjord. This region is at risk from seismic blasting and potential future Arctic oil drilling. Greenpeace Canada was invited to the Clyde River community to support their fight against seismic blasting, assist with solar panel installation, and to participate in a series of knowledge-sharing events.
Photo credit: Greenpeace
Greenpeace Russia volunteers help suppress a wildfire near the Cossack village Berezanovskaya, Russia. The team was on its way back home when they witnessed the wildfire.
Photo credit: Maria Vasileva / Greenpeace
Aerial view over two walruses on an ice floe in front of Kvitøya (White Island) in the Svalbard Archipelago. The decline of sea ice in the northern latitudes signals not only climate change, but a direct threat to the habitat of many wildlife species, who depend on it for resting, breeding and hunting.
Photo credit: Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
Two ships leave the harbour at the same time in Dakar, Senegal. The Senegalese sailors look at the Chinese crew on the other ship. The depletion of China's domestic fishery resources, which resulted from irresponsible fishing activities in China's coastal water and poor fishery management, has forced Chinese fishing vessels to travel over tens of thousands miles to find fish in other fishing grounds like the one near West Africa.
Photo credit: Liu Yuyang / Greenpeace
Two Munduruku boys walk along a river while holding spears. The Munduruku people have inhabited the Sawré Muybu in the heart of the Amazon, for generations. The Brazilian government plans to build a series of dams in the Tapajos River basin, which would severely threaten their way of life.
Photo credit: Anderson Barbosa / Greenpeace
Greenpeace Netherlands activists closed off access to all importing and exporting by palm oil trader IOI in the Netherlands' Rotterdam harbour, palm oil's gateway into Europe. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza was moored to the dock at the back of the refinery, preventing palm oil from being unloaded from incoming oil tankers.
Photo credit: Greenpeace
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.