Climate crisis coverage in the first person

The winner of the Environmental Photo of the Year 2021 competition was announced this weekend in Glasgow. 

The work entered in the competition, by professionals and some amateurs, documents saltwater intrusion in Bangladesh, the compound effect of forest fires and Covid-19 in Yamuna Ghatm, India, and climate impact on polar bear populations in the Arctic Ocean.

Increasingly though, the US has its own climate disasters to document. And as each disaster’s hashtag populates on Instagram and TikTok, an important, first-person perspective comes into focus—distinct from the EPOY, but no less vital. 

When an amateur allows us to step behind their eyes and into their experience, our understanding of the climate crisis can only improve. We have gathered some of the most startling examples of recent years. 

 

Hurricane Ida, August 2021

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In the background of this video, a couple tries to lend help as a tree falls onto their neighbor’s house. A child can be heard asking if they’re going to die.

@jessicachateau727♬ original sound – jessicachateau727

(Video/ @jessicachateau727)

 

A mother in Austin, Texas uses a damaged MacDonalds sign to illustrate her request for financial assistance.

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A post shared by Nicole Nguyen (@nicoletramn)

(Photo/@nicoletramn)

 

Mrs. Dale’s house can not be salvaged, but here, she returns to play her piano one last time.

 

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A post shared by Cajun Navy (@gocajunnavy)

(Video/ @gocajunnavy)

 

Handwritten encouragement goes out with donations to hurricane victims

 

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A post shared by Jessi Parfait (@louisianajessi)

(Photo/ @louisianajessi)

 

A call for help, apparently beyond the reach of FEMA and the Red Cross in Houma, Louisiana

 

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A post shared by Lauren Rose Moore (@laurenrose_chaos)

(Photo/ @laurenrose_chaos)

 

Osyka, Mississippi makes do with downed trees at Halloween

 

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A post shared by Laura Guccione (@lauraguccione13)

(Photo/@lauraguccione13)

 

California wildfires 2021

 

A look at the tiny rivulets via which wildfire can travel

@truthhurts228##wildfirescalifornia ##wildfires♬ original sound – The one and only

(Video/ @truthhurts228)

 

Blowback from the Fawn Fire reaches the safe zone

 

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A post shared by Duane & Becky (@ourwonderfamily)

(Photo/ @ourwonderfamily)

 

Daylight grown scarce

@joyismycenter##california ##wildfirescalifornia ##wildfires2020 ##wildfire ##wildfireseason♬ original sound – Paloma Freitas

(Video/ @joyismycenter)

 

Neighbors who grew up together, united in grief after the Camp Fire

 

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A post shared by Out of Ashes (@out.of.ashes)

(Photo/ @out.of.ashes)

 

Lung protection for a beloved pet

 

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A post shared by Yvette buigues (@fortheloveofjefrey)

(Photo/ @fortheloveofjefrey)

 

Winter Storm Uri, February 2021 

 

Early days of the water shortage in Texas

 

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A post shared by 🌺Beans Shack🌴 (@beansshack)

(Photo/ @beansshack)

 

Waiting out the blizzard with candles and Bach

 

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A post shared by Ron Dicken (@grimnir903)

(Video/ @grimnir903)

 

Pandemic-era PPE converts to blizzard survival gear

@damongranttx#voiceeffects #texasblizzard2021 #texas #lifehack #fortworth #fortworthtexas♬ original sound – D. Shields

(Video/ @damongranttx)

 

The rush to pull sea turtles from water cold enough to kill them

 

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A post shared by Sea of world (@sea.ofworld)

(Photo/ @sea.ofworld)

 

Without electricity, Texans move their kitchens outside

 

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A post shared by Kaitlin Helm (@krazygekkogirl88)

(Photo/ @krazygekkogirl88)

 

Midwest Derecho, August 2020 

 

A first-hand glimpse of what happens inside a building as the wind tears off the roof

@wxzksVideo: Brendan McCormick ##severeweather ##winds ##foryou ##marion ##iowa ##iowaderecho ##science♬ Master Of Puppets – Live – Metallica

(Photo/ Brendan McCormick via @wxzks)

 

Iowa farmers assess the damage

 

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A post shared by Iowa Cover Crop (@iowacovercrop)

(Photo/ @iowacovercrop)

 

Power lines teeter over an Iowa road

 

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A post shared by scott stines (@sstines457)

(Photo/ @sstines457)

 

A sketch in oak ink of sheet metal blown over a mile by the derecho

 

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A post shared by Holly Hazelton (@hollyhazelton)

(Photo/ @hollyhazelton)

 

Prayer and resolve

 

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A post shared by GoServ Global (@goservglobal)

(Photo/ @goservglobal)

 

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Amanda Darrach is a contributor to CJR and a visiting scholar at the University of St Andrews School of International Relations. Follow her on Twitter @thedarrach.

TOP IMAGE: A break between blizzards, March 2020 in Caprock Canyon, Texas. Photo/ Ginnie Leeming