This year’s Environmental Photographer of the Year winners paint a bleak future for our planet

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The Environmental Photographer of the Year has announced its 2021 winners. As the contest name suggests, this is a selection of photos that depicts humanity’s struggle with environmental issues, but also its adaptability and ability to survive. And just as always, the selected photos will leave no one indifferent.

Now in its 14th year, the competition showcases the most inspirational environmental photography from around the world. The selected photos should call us to action, and inspire us to live sustainably, and do what is in our power to be kind to our environment.

This year’s Environmental Photographer of the Year is Antonio Aragon Renuncio for his photo The rising tide sons. The photo shows a child sleeping on the floor of his house that is about to collapse, destroyed by coastal erosion on Afidegnigba beach.

“The rising tide sons,” © Antonio Aragon Renuncio, 2019; By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

“Sea levels off the coast of Togo and other West African countries continue to rise and swallow up everything in their path. Homes, crops, roads, trees, schools, jobs, resources… lives. However, the shore of this small country in the Gulf of Guinea is only one part of the massive problem that affects more than 8,000 kilometers of seacoast in 13 West African countries. Punished by global warming, rising sea levels are forcing the ocean floor to readjust by removing sediment from the coast and washing it away from the shore. This causes marine erosion capable of devouring dozens of meters of land each year. As a result of this environmental global problem, thousands of people (mainly women and children) have already forced to leave their homes and migrate inland in search of food, shelter and to avoid a certain death… Many thousands more await their inexorable future… That next rising tide that takes everything away.”

The annual competition has chosen winners across eight categories which will be announced during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (CCOP26) on 11 November. Take a look at the remaining winners below and find more information on the contest’s website.

Young Environmental Photographer of the Year

“Inferno,” © Amaan Ali, 2021; By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

A boy fighting surface fires in a forest near his home in Yamuna Ghat, New Delhi, India. According to locals, forest fires caused by human activity in the area are a common occurrence due to adverse living conditions.

Environments of the Future

“Flood,” © Michele Lapini, 2020; By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

A house is submerged by the flooding of the River Panaro in the Po Valley due to heavy rainfall and melting snow.

Sustainable Cities

“Net-zero transition – Photobioreactor,” © Simone Tramonte, 2020; By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

A photobioreactor at Algalif’s facilities in Reykjanesbaer, Iceland, produces sustainable astaxanthin using clean geothermal energy. Iceland has shifted from fossil fuels to 100% of electricity and heat from renewable sources.

Climate Action

“The Last breath,” © Kevin Ochieng Onyango, 2021; By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

A boy takes in air from the plant, with a sand storm brewing in the background. This is an impression of the changes to come.

Water and Security

“Green barrier,” © Sandipani Chattopadhyay, 2021; By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

Irregular monsoon seasons and droughts cause algal bloom on the Damodar river. Algal blooms prevent light from penetrating the surface and prevent oxygen absorption by the organisms beneath, impacting human health and habitats in the area.

The Resilient Award

“Survive for alive,” © Ashraful Islam, 2021; By courtesy of the photographer and Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021

Flocks of sheep search for grass amongst the cracked soil. Extreme droughts in Bangladesh have created hardships for all living beings.

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