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Scorched, drained or swamped, built up, dug up or torn apart, blue or green or turned to dust: this is the Earth as seen from above. As the world celebrates Earth Day on Saturday, the footprints of human activity are visible across the planet’s surface. The relationship between people and the natural world will have consequences for years to come. In Iraq, lakes dry up and dry up because it doesn’t rain, man-made climate change alters weather patterns. In Florida, the opposite problem: Too much water closes roads and neighborhoods, drowns cars and traps people, with the burning of fossil fuels partly to blame for the unsanitary conditions. In megacities, like booming Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, skyscrapers rise upward while in Guyana diggers dig deep into the earth for gold deposits. In California, surfers surf the waves in the ocean. In New Jersey, solar panels float in ponds, and in India fishing nets are sunk in lakes. Meanwhile, residents of Utah’s neighborhoods get water where it shouldn’t be — through their streets and homes. On land, farmers depend on weather patterns, with climate change changing patterns. In Argentina, dry land turns crops brown. Just outside Barcelona, newly broken, thirsty water beds appear after it hasn’t rained for a few months. Earth Day first began in 1970, beginning as the birth of an environmental movement that encouraged people around the world to protect the natural world. Today, it also urges action to combat climate change, which has accelerated in recent decades.
Every year, scientists warn that the burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet and bring us closer to an internationally agreed limit on warming, which will have major impacts, such as more extreme weather events.
Around the world, activists of all ages are pressuring governments and companies to do more to protect the environment and combat climate change.
Associated Press climate and environment coverage is supported by a number of private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative. AP is solely responsible for all content.