Scorched Earth: A Year of Heat and Drought Around The World

Spotlight / Editorial Spotlight
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez
Getty Images
Dec 30, 2022
Historic heat waves scorched much of planet Earth in 2022.  Europe marked its hottest summer in recorded history, while the Horn of Africa, the western United States, China and India all suffered from severe drought.  Over twenty thousand deaths were attributed to heat waves in Europe alone, while twenty two million people in Africa face famine.  "Heatflation" pushed up food prices in many parts of the globe. Getty Images photographers around the world documented these extreme conditions associated with climate change.
In Europe, the scale of heat and drought was unprecedented.  Eight hundred thousand hectares of land were destroyed by wildfires and drought.  Not only were there tens of thousands of deaths attributed to the heat, but crops such as avocados, rice and olive oil in parts of the continent were at risk. 
In the Horn of Africa,  2022 brought the worst drought in forty years as crops failed, and over one thousand animals in national parks perished. Millions of people in the region are now imperiled by famine. In India, excessive heat waves exacerbated drought conditions, destroyed large areas of wheat crops, and water shortages plagued parts of the subcontinent.
In the United States, extreme and  "exceptional" drought continued to ravage the American West. During the third‑hottest summer on record according to NOAA,  two of the nation's largest reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, reached historically low water levels,  threatening the water supply for several western states and parts of Mexico.
In a recent interview on his work covering climate change in 2022, Getty Images staff photographer Mario Tama sums up the importance of documenting climate impacts.  “You can read statistics all day long and that will have a certain impact in your brain, but the power of photography is for people to be able to visualize what’s happening on the ground...especially some of these threatened, vulnerable places a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to visit in person. It’s our duty and responsibility as photojournalists to be able to bring that reality home to people wherever there are around the globe.”
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