Pandemics and other disasters showed us what we have to lose — and how hard people are working to save the planet.

Antarctic sun

What a year.

Looking back on 2020 is probably enough to start most of us screaming, but if we’re going to move forward in 2021 we need to find out how we got here — and what steps people are taking to push us back in the right direction.

Here are a dozen Revelator articles from the past year that reflect that need. Many of them dig into dark topics — that’s hard to avoid when writing about the environment these days — but you’ll also find information and stories that may help guide us through the shadows.

The Faces of Extinction: The Species We Lost in 2019 — Let’s never forget what we’ve already lost, even as we celebrate every step taken to prevent more losses.

Where Pandemics Come From and How to Stop Them— The first of our COVID-related stories for the year. Little did we realize at the time how bad things would become.

A Dam Comes Down — and Tribes, Cities, Salmon and Orcas Could All Benefit — We dug into issues related to dams throughout the year. This one still resonates with readers.

10 Things We’ve Learned a Decade After the Deepwater Horizon Disaster — Some of the best coverage of this grim anniversary.

Mangroves Could Help Save Us From Climate Change. Climate Change Is Killing Mangroves. — Coastal ecosystems don’t get enough attention — and that could cost us.

A Virus Wiped Out 90% of This Turtle Species. Can It Recover? — A tale about a turtle, but also a story about people making a difference.

Are Forever Chemicals Harming Ocean Life? — It’s amazing how little these toxins remain in the public eye.

As Glaciers Melt, Will Deadly Landslides Increase? — A little-understood consequence of climate change.

5 Things You Should Know About the Earth’s Warming Ocean — Every degree matters, often in unexpected ways.

How One Utah Community Fought the Fracking Industry — and Won — Resistance and persistence pay off.

The Long-lost Frogs Found in a Remote Ecuadorian Reserve — and the Threat That Could Wipe Them All Out — Just because few people visit an ecosystem doesn’t mean it’s not threatened.

Promise or Peril? Importing Hydropower to Fuel the Clean Energy Transition — An illuminating portrait of the complexities of renewable energy.

What were your favorites? Did anything you enjoyed reading on The Revelator this year not make the list? Let us know.

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John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.