13 Stunning Images That Amplify the Impacts of Climate Change

'Hightide Enters Home'. (Photo: SL Shanth Kumar/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

From dirty drinking water and deforestation to plastic pollution and poaching, the environmental impacts of humans on the planet are often devastating. This year's winners and shortlisted finalists in the CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year contest capture not only that destruction, but also humanity's ability to overcome those challenges.

"Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the time to act," said Terry Fuller, chief executive of CIWEM, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management. "We need to see action from all sectors of society. This competition showcases the reality of how people are being impacted by the climate all around the world and aims to spread an important message worldwide to inspire big change."

This year's winners were announced alongside the United Nations Climate Action Summit taking place in New York.

The overall winner, shown above, is "Hightide Enters Home," by SL Shanth Kumar, who describes his image:

"A huge wave lashes at a shanty throwing out a 40 year old fisherman out of his home at Bandra in the western suburbs of Mumbai. He is pulled in by the strong currents but was rescued by fellow fishermen before the sea could have swallowed him. The reclaimed city of Mumbai is facing the risk of coastal flooding, a fallout of the climate change. The city's land and sea temperatures have been rising causing an corresponding impact on the sea level."

Below are more of the winning photos and other shortlisted entries, most of them described in the photographer's words. You can find a full gallery of the 2019 shortlist here.

Sustainable Cities Prize: 'Polluted New Year'

'Polluted New Year'. (Photo: Eliud Gil Samaniego/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"The 1st of January of 2018 Mexicali was one of the most contaminated cities in the world because the pyrotecnics [sic], climate change, geographic location, industry and cars."

Water, Equality and Sustainability Prize: 'Water Scarcity'

'Water Scarcity'. (Photo: Frederick Dharshie Wissah/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"A young boy drinking dirty water due to lack of water points in the area due to deforestation thus leading to health risks to the boy."

Climate Action and Energy Prize: 'Remains of the Forest'

'Remains of the Forest'. (Photo: J Henry Fair/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"Hambach Forest [in Germany] was nearly 12,000 years old when it was bought by a power company to dig for the brown coal buried underneath. The ancient forest was once the size of Manhattan. Now only 10 percent of it remains."

Changing Environments Prize: 'Tuvalu Beneath the Rising Tide (I)'

'Tuvalu Beneath the Rising Tide (I)'. (Photo: Sean Gallagher/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"Fallen trees lie on a beach as the waves from the Funafuti lagoon in Tuvalu lap around them. Land erosion has always been a problem for the country, but problems are intensifying as sea levels rise. Rising seas are on the verge of submerging the tiny archipelago’s islands completely under water."

Below are more shortlist entries.

'Sweet Dreams'

'Sweet Dreams'. (Photo: Antonio Aragon Renuncio/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"A girl sleeps on a desk inside her schoolroom. Extreme rains have tripled in the Sahel in the last 35 years due to global warming. Climate change has caused 70 episodes of torrential rains in the last decade although the region suffers severe episodes of drought."

'The Plastic Quarry'

'The Plastic Quarry'. (Photo: Antonio Aragon Renuncio/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"A boy plays with a plastic bag. About 380 million tons of plastic is produced worldwide each year. Production increased exponentially from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015. Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans."

'Lungs of the Earth'

'Lungs of the Earth'. (Photo: Ian Wade/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"Photographing trees at night with a long shutter speed and 4 LED spotlights isn't easy, the tiniest amount of wind will blur the canopy. It took me 5 long nights to capture this image. But it was well worth it, the final image shows the trees in all their spender."

'Daily Labor'

'Daily Labor'. (Photo: M Yousuf Tushar/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

Thousands of poor people come to Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, to find work. Often that means hard work like this scene, where workers carry the unloaded coal in baskets on their heads.

'Heart of the Ocean'

'Heart of the Ocean'. (Photo: Tran Tuan Viet/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"As fish stocks decrease, fishing methods become increasingly extreme. Destructive fishing with small-hole nets devastate the marine environment."


'Invisible'. (Photo: Valerie Leonard/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"In the Sisdol landfill in Nepal, wastepickers rummage through garbage all day long looking for materials or valuables to sell. This temporary landfill located near Kathmandu has been in operation since 2005. Today it is running out of its capacity."

'Sleep Fatigue'

'Sleep Fatigue'. (Photo: Amdad Hossain/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"A women sleeps on a dirty riverbank in Dhaka Bangladesh."


'Trash'. (Photo: Şebnem Coşkun/2019 CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year)

"Underwater cleaning in the Bosphorus as part of the Zero Waste Blue project." The Bosphorus is a strait that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara in northern Turkey.