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2020, The Year In Pictures, The Year In Climate, The New York Times


There have been many years that we have concluded the year with The Year In Pictures from The New York Times. 2020 would be the last year not to do so.

As the introduction says, “a year like no other.”

The introduction follows, with the link below to the full presentation in photography and text.

We long ago have noted, more than once, that we have run out of superlatives to describe the necessity of reading or looking at something. So we simply advise, go to the link, read and look.

This is a rare time when we have not posted the full presentation of photos and text here. It is so extensive that we are providing the introduction here and the link to the presentation.

You will also find there links to the past ten years of The Year In Pictures and The Decade In Pictures that we posted last year. Few things can give perspective as a review of the above can.

Five years ago, the introduction at the end of 2015 started, “THIS was the year of the great unraveling”.

It was a mid-decade wake-up call.

This was also a centerpoint reference in the first installment of our series, The End Of Civilization As We Knew It.

The series will continue. And our further reflection on the past year is yet to come. The great unraveling has continued and the great unraveling of 2020 isn’t under the best of scenarios going to arrive at a referential stopping point just yet.

In addition to The Year In Pictures, we have added The Year In Climate following it. There are photos and videos and text with links to numerous extraordinary articles throughout the year. We’ve focused on some of these and other articles from The Times on this issue this year. Outstanding is the most modest word that comes to mind to describe the coverage on this issue this year.

We cover it as an additional singular issue because while the pandemic has been the story of the year, along with protests over inequality, economic crises (again, and ongoing for most people in the world) and the US presidential election (each of which are stories of the year and beyond, along with others), and while guaranteeing the basic needs and rights of all people, starting with children, remains the over-riding driver of history and imperative to address, if it were not for the unique impact of the stories of the year this year–the story of the year would very likely have been the climate and environmental crises–which everyone would likely have become alarmed by on a new level. So while it has certainly been in the mix with top stories, it has also gotten lost in them in impact in many ways. Therefore, we give it it’s own emphasis.

To start, here is the reflective stopping point for now in what has been the year of years in so many ways:

2020: The Year In Pictures

A Year Like No Other

By Dean Baquet, executive editor

Certain years are so eventful they are regarded as pivotal in history, years when wars and slavery ended and deep generational fissures burst into the open — 1865, 1945 and 1968 among them. The year 2020 will certainly join this list. It will long be remembered and studied as a time when more than 1.5 million people globally died during a pandemic, racial unrest gripped the world, and democracy itself faced extraordinary tests.

The photographs in this collection capture those historic 12 months. Jeffrey Henson Scales, who edited The Year in Pictures with David Furst, said he had never felt such sweep and emotion from a single year’s images — from the “joy and optimism” of a New Year’s Eve kiss in Times Square, to angry crowds on the streets of Hong Kong and in American cities, to scenes of painful debates over race and policing, to the “seemingly countless graves and coffins across the globe.”

The impeachment of an American president culminated in early 2020. But two pictures taken in late January in Wuhan, China, are hints of a larger cataclysm to come. In one aerial shot, construction workers are building a giant hospital virtually overnight to handle hundreds of patients stricken with the coronavirus. The other looks like a still from a sci-fi film: A man dressed in black, wearing a white mask, lies dead on a city street; two emergency workers have stepped away from him and gaze at the viewer — all but their eyes hidden by face coverings and ghostly white protective suits.

Then the virus swept the world, recorded in indelible images. The scenes of people comforting beloved family members through glass and cellphones are heartbreaking. Some of the most haunting images are of emptiness. Still cities. Vacant streets of London and the Place de la Concorde. A desolate Munich subway station. Among the most disturbing is a photo of a refrigerated trailer set up as a makeshift morgue in Greenwich Village.

Punctuating these scenes are photographs of a tumultuous American election that even without the ravages of the virus would end up looming large in history books. As the year progresses, fueled by police shootings of young Black men, powerfully symbolic pictures of protests begin appearing. In May, a lone demonstrator carries an upside-down American flag past a burning liquor store in Minneapolis, in protest of the killing of George Floyd.

In 2020, a year when all aspects of life seemed transformed, so was the process of making these photographs. Journalists are observers, not participants, but the most striking sense to emerge from interviews with the photographers who took these pictures — described by Mr. Henson Scales as the most diverse group in his more than a decade curating this annual compilation — was how much they too lived what they witnessed. No one could escape the virus and vitalness of 2020. It gave photographers fresh perspective. And they gave us unforgettable images from a historic year in our lives.

. . .

2020 was a crisis year: a pandemic, economic turmoil, social upheaval. And running through it all, climate change. Here’s some of the best reporting from The Times’s Climate Desk.


At the turn of the new year, huge wildfires were burning the coast of Australia, which had just marked its hottest, driest year on record.

Half a world away, California recorded its own worst fire season this fall, driven in part by hot, dry conditions. Huge infernos scorched the landscape, devastating magnificent trees and wreaking havoc in the lives of millions of Americans.

In South America, a quarter of the world’s largest wetland was also consumed by flames.

Meanwhile, as fires raged, polar ice melted, temperatures soared and a record number of storms formed and made landfall in the United States — the most ever in one year.


The impacts of climate change are not equally felt throughout the world — not within one country or even in a single city.


The pandemic, in many ways, echoed the threat of climate change: It was global in scale, hit the vulnerable hardest and required collective action to avert the worst. But it moved more swiftly.

The virus also drove down emissions, but not in the way anyone would have wanted.


As the pandemic surged and the planet warmed, the oil and gas industry faced a crisis of its own.

Real estate felt the first gusts of its own coming storm as banks grew increasingly concerned about climate threats to the housing market.

Some industries, like beef, grappled with their climate footprints and their futures, too.


President Trump’s administration continued to reverse and revise environmental protections, even on the way out of office.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. ran on the opposite promise: to refocus on climate change and environmental justice. Now that he’s won, what can he accomplish?


The year wasn’t all news. We produced explainers and guides covering everything from your personal climate choices to how states make electricity.

A big thanks to all our readers.