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A worker sorts out plastic bottles for recycling in Dong Xiao Kou village. China also announced Sunday that it would work to promote the use of recycled plastics. FRED DUFOUR / AFP via Getty Images

China, the world's No. 1 producer of plastic pollution, announced major plans Sunday to cut back on the sale and production of single-use plastics.

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Plastic waste that started as packaging clogs tropical landfills. apomares / iStock / Getty Images

By Clyde Eiríkur Hull and Eric Williams

Countries around the world throw away millions of tons of plastic trash every year. Finding ways to manage plastic waste is daunting even for wealthy nations, but for smaller and less-developed countries it can be overwhelming.

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The common murre population in Alaska has been decimated by an ocean heatwave. Linda Burek / iStock / Getty Images Plus

An expanse of uncommonly warm seawater in the Pacific Ocean created by a marine heatwave led to a mass die-off of one million seabirds, scientists have found.

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The sun rises over the lagoon on Sept. 13, 2019 in Kivalina, Alaska. The coastal Alaskan village faces the warming of the Arctic, which has resulted in the loss of sea ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

The world's oceans just had their warmest year on record.

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A plume of bushfire smoke rises above Mount Taylor Road bordering local farm land on Jan. 11 in Karatta, Australia. Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

At first glance, the images seem more like nightmares than real life. Blood-red skies that appear to have seeped into the earth below, staining it hellishly. Cyclone-like whirls with columns of flame at their centers. People and animals huddled close together on a beach, ready to jump into the ocean should the encroaching fires reach their makeshift camp and leave them with no choice.

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A high sea borders the roadside on the French overseas island of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean on Sept. 29, 2019.ALI AL-DAHER / AFP via Getty Images

Mysterious hums that were heard around the world in 2018 have now been identified as the rumblings of a magma-filled reservoir deep under the Indian Ocean, announcing the birth of an underwater volcano, according to a new study, as CNN reported.

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A Chinese paddlefish exhibited in the Museum of Hydrobiological Sciences, Wuhan Institute of Hydrobiology of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Alneth / CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientists have concluded of the largest freshwater fish species in the world is now extinct because of human activity.

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Aerial view of Cancun coastline. Dronepicr / Wikipedia / CC BY 3.0

Buying insurance is one way to protect something of value, such as a car or a home. And now businesses in Cancun, Mexico, have insured a coral reef.

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Watching the sun rise at Cosumnes River Preserve. Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management California / Flickr / Public Domain

By John R. Platt and Tara Lohan

Let's be honest, 2019 was a rough year for the planet. Despite some environmental victories along the way, we saw the extinction crisis deepen, efforts to curtail climate change blocked at almost every turn, and the oceans continue to warm. We also heard new revelations about ways that plastics and chemicals harm our bodies, saw the political realm become even more polarized, and experienced yet another round of record-breaking temperatures.

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An employee carries a banner informing customers about the ban on free single-use plastic bags at a shopping mall in downtown Bangkok on Jan. 2, 2020. MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP via Getty Images

Thailand rang in 2020 with an effort to tackle the plastic crisis filling the country's waste sites and choking its waterways. The country's ban on plastic bags at major retailers began as soon as the clock struck midnight in Bangkok. A complete ban of bags that includes smaller shops will go into effect in 2021, as Reuters reported.

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A massive oil spill threatened St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana on Sept. 18, 2005 when an oil tank was forced from its foundation by Hurricane Katrina's massive storm surge. Bob McMillan / FEMA

The devastation to lives and homes caused by Hurricane Katrina masked a massive crude oil spill that the hurricane caused by damaging rigs and storage tanks in the Gulf of Mexico. The damage was made worse a few weeks later when Hurricane Rita struck the area. The federal regulators that oversee oil and gas operation in the Gulf estimated that more than 400 pipelines and 100 drilling platforms were damaged, leading to 10.8 million gallons of crude oil spilling into the Gulf — the same amount as the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

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