Climate disasters started early in 2020—and kept on coming.
The catastrophic fires in Australia in early 2020 were a holdover from 2019, but they were soon followed by flooding in Indonesia, a super cyclone hitting the coast of India and Bangladesh, and then more flooding, this time in Kenya and wide swaths of Central and West Africa.
Next came the record-breaking fires in the Brazilian Amazon, South America’s Pantanal wetlands, California and Colorado, followed by a historic hurricane season in the Atlantic, including two apocalyptic hurricanes in Nicaragua and Honduras.
With terrible symmetry, 2020 ended with bushfires consuming more than half of K’gari, a World Heritage site and island off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
A popular refrain on social media notes that while 2020 was among the hottest on record and one of the worst years for climate disasters, it is also likely to be among the coolest and calmest for years to come. During a speech at Columbia University in December, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres put it bluntly: “The state of the planet is broken.”
But now is not the time for despair.
Hope Is Found in Uncertainty
All this bad climate news has the potential to generate climate despair, numbing those watching the next tragedy unfold.