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via National Geographic

Nat Geo's 'Year in Pictures 2021'

Even though 2021 was a year marred by a global pandemic, National Geographic still found a way to add 2 million photos to its vast archives this year. The publication is commemorating the tremendous work its photographers have done in 2021 by sharing some of their most remarkable shots in the January issue as part of its Year in Pictures campaign.

National Geographic hopes its readers will see it as more than “a collection of pretty photographs,” Whitney Johnson, director of visuals and immersive experiences, told National Geographic.

The images were chosen as powerful examples of human resilience in the face of a pandemic and climate crisis.

“In many ways, there are messages of hope, there are messages of compassion for one and another,” said Kathy Moran, deputy director of photography at National Geographic. “A number of the images featured show that there is hope, resilience, and there are solutions to many of the problems that we are facing as a society.”

National Geographic was kind enough to share some photos with Upworthy that embody 2021’s turbulence—from political rancor and climate change to COVID-19 developments and conflicts around the globe.

You can see more images on its Year in Pictures site. (You just have to provide your email.)


Dar Yasin/AP PHOTO

With a cooler of COVID-19 vaccines in hand, Nazir Ahmed looks for shepherds and nomadic herders in the meadows of Tosamaidan, southwest of Srinagar in the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In the race to vaccinate against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, healthcare workers have gone to extreme lengths to reach remote communities.

From Srinagar, it took Ahmed and a half dozen colleagues three hours driving and then walking to reach this isolated spot. They spent four hours searching for people and vaccinated more than 10.

Photo by Lynsey Addario

Firefighters spent months in 2021 battling to contain California's Dixie fire, which burned nearly a million acres and destroyed most of Greenville, a town with population of around 1000. The number and size of wildfires across western North America have increased in recent years, driven in part by climate change, which intensifies hot, dry conditions that suck water from living and dead plants, making them likelier to burn.

Part of the solution, scientists agree, is more widespread use of "good" fire: controlled, low-intensity burns that clear leaf litter and brush from the forest floor, reducing the fuel for wildfires.

Photo by Mel D. Cole

Police officer Michael Fanone struggles against Trump supporters after they dragged him down the steps of the U.S. Capitol. At a rally earlier that day, then President Donald Trump falsely claimed that he'd won the 2020 presidential election "in a landslide" and urged supporters to go to the Capitol, where the House of Representatives was certifying the election results.

"You'll never take back our country with weakness," Trump said. Five people died as a result of the attack. Some 140 police officers were injured. More than 600 people have been arrested. The assault on the Capitol is the focus of a congressional investigation.

Reuben Wu/National Geographic

Stonehenge, built some 5,000 years ago in southern England, first underwent conservation work in 1901 after one of the sarsens and its lintel fell—a concern for public safety. Preservation this past September involved repairing cracks and repacking joints with mortar to stabilize the stones and protect them from erosion.

Two months earlier, a judge had ruled that plans to move the nearby highway underground to reduce traffic and noise were unlawful, suspending a project many archaeologists worried would destroy undiscovered artifacts. Photographer Reuben Wu layered 11 exposures taken over 30 minutes to create the lighting effects in this image.

Photo by Kiana Hayeri

The U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, after a 20-year occupation, ended what’s been called America’s longest modern war. But the war there goes on for Hafiza, 70, seen here. She has lived near the city of Faizabad since the Taliban took over her home village in 2019.

Her sons’ choices leave Hafiza grieved and on uncertain ground: Two of them fought with the Afghan National Army, one with a militia and one with the Taliban. The fighting in Afghanistan was among dozens of ongoing conflicts around the world in 2021—recent to ancient, international to regional, stoked by greed, creed or history.

"Time is the one thing we cannot increase.”

Over his seven years as host of “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah brought us laughter and valuable insights, even with a pandemic and political upheaval. He made such a positive mark that the announcement of his departure from the show came as bittersweet news to fans.

During an interview with Hoda Kotb of “Today,” Trevor Noah gave further explanation to his personal decision to leave, and in typical Noah fashion, it touched on something universal in the process.

“I realized during the pandemic,” he told Kotb, “everyone talks about a ‘work-life balance.’ But that almost creates the idea that your work and your life are two separate things. When in fact, I came to realize during the pandemic that it’s just a ‘life-life balance.’ It’s just your life.”

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Photo by Roméo A. on Unsplash

Cat hilariously rats out owner in front of the landlord

Maybe it's a right of passage into adulthood or maybe some landlords discriminate against pets because they can't tell people kids are forbidden in their residence. Either way, just about everyone has lived in a rental home that didn't allow pets. Most people just abide by the rules and vow to get a pet when they find a new home.

Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a Silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.

My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.

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Joy

Delivery driver's reaction to snacks left for him shows how a little kindness goes a long way

“Seeing a grown man get so excited about Capri Sun is extra wholesome."

'Dee' the delivery guy stoked to get some Doritos.

Sometimes the smallest gesture can change someone’s day for the better, especially when that act of kindness lets them know their work is appreciated. Over the last few years, delivery drivers have done a fantastic job keeping people healthy during the pandemic, so Toni Hillison Barnett told News 11 that she and her husband started a tradition of leaving snacks for their drivers on the front porch.

The Barnetts, who live in Louisville, Kentucky, can see the drivers' reactions by recording them on their doorbell cameras. “I live for reactions like this to our snack cart! Thx to all of the delivery drivers out there! We appreciate you!” Toni wrote on an Instagram post.

Recently, one of the Barnetts’ delivery guys, a joyous fellow that we believe is known as Dee, went viral on TikTok because of his positive reaction to receiving some snacks during his deliveries. The snacks are tasty, no doubt. But it’s also wonderful to feel appreciated. After Toni posted the video it received over 100,000 views.

“Oh my God, you guys are the best, I gotta take a snapshot of this,” Dee can be heard saying in the video. “Oh, Capri Suns are my favorite, Yes!”

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
woman holding a cup of tea, writing in a notebook

It's no secret that everyone could use a little kindness in their lives and it can come in many forms. Sometimes it's the neighbor cutting your grass when your husband's away and you're too busy to get to it yourself. Other times it's sending a card to the elderly widow down the street.

One woman in Arkansas has taken to spreading kindness through writing letters to strangers. Allison Bond, 25, started writing letters over a year ago during COVID-19 when she couldn't attend school due to her medical condition. Bond has cerebral palsy and is at greater risk for serious illness should she contract the virus. Writing letters was an act of kindness that didn't require a trip out of the house.

Bond began by writing to soldiers and inmates. In fact, the first letter she received back was from a soldier. Bond told 5News, "I have one framed from a soldier. He had all his battle buddies sign it. So I framed it so I could put it up." She's kept every letter she's received.

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