It’s nearly the end of the year and there have been several highs and lows around the globe.  New World Heritage sites and breathtaking drone photography continues to show us just how beautiful our world truly is. All the while there have been more hardships for animals and the environment this year and worrying reports which ask the difficult questions about climate change and our future. And yet there is hope. This year we plunged the depths of the Antartic ocean and discovered thriving life, a reminder that for all the difficulties we’ve seen this year there is beauty still. Ecophiles takes a look at what happened in culture, the environment, and travel for your 2017 year in review.

Year in review

New World Heritage Sites

This year UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) added three new sites to their World Heritage list: the archaeological site of Aphrodisias, Turkey; the geographically stunning Lake District in the north of England, and the archaeological site tracing the arrival of Africans in Brazil, Valongo Wharf.

English Lake District

Photo: Tony Armstrong via Flickr

The World’s First Solar-Powered Town

Babcock Ranch in Florida became the first solar-powered town in the world. The town will continuously seek to incorporate innovative green technology into future town-planning. The town, which already boasts a massive solar farm, plans to incorporate driverless shuttles and to farm crops which recycle irrigated water.

The World’s Longest Suspension Bridge

The world’s longest suspension bridge opened to the public in Switzerland this past year. The 494 m long bridge runs high along the deepest valley in the Swiss mountains and provides striking views of the famous Matterhorn.

Switzerland worlds longest suspension bridge

Opening of the world’s longest pedestrian suspended bridge (494m) on the Europaweg in Randa, Switzerland, Friday July 28, 2017. (PHOTOVF/Valentin Flauraud)

Denmark’s Soaring Treetop Walkway

Possibly one of the most innovative design features on our year in review list. This majestic treetop walkway in Denmark is just one attraction at Camp Adventure, an establishment which offers innovative and exciting treetop courses for everyone from those wanting to forest bathe and relax to the more adventurous.

Camp Adventure Denmark

Photo via Camp Adventure

Deepest Dive Under Antarctica

This year diver and photographer Laurent Ballesta and her team completed the deepest dive under the ice of Antarctica. Her beautiful photos revealed an amazing variety of life beneath the frozen continent, from exotic marine life to seals and penguins. Research is still underway to learn all we can about the thriving ecosystems of Antarctic.

Endangered and Illegally Traded Animals Report

Turtles, leopards, and rhinos are just three of the 10 most illegally traded endangered animals according to a report released this year by the WWF. Elephants, tigers, and gaur also top their list. The WWF have urged governments, law enforcers, NGOs and companies to take action to secure the future of these endangered species.

Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) in the Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana, Africa

Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) in the Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana, Africa

The Trump Administration v the Environment

January 2017 saw the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump and since then the Trump administration has significantly affected the policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, has threatened to reduce the protection of national landscapes and monuments, and signed proclamations to reduce national monuments in Utah by nearly half, the largest reduction to protected areas in history.

The United States Withdraws From Paris Climate Accord

President Trump announced this summer that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris Agreement to the outcry of environmentalists not just in America but around the globe. The 2015 agreement is a commitment by the involved countries to combat environmental issues and global warming.

Total Solar Eclipse

This past August much of North America was treated to a spectacular total solar eclipse, the first total solar eclipse in almost 40 years. Millions of people were able to witness the highly-documented spectacle.

solar-eclipse

The total solar eclipse. Photo: leoleobobeo via Pixabay

New Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi

A new Louvre museum opened in Abu Dhabi. The stunning design of the building is an intergovernmental project between France and the United Arab Emirates. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum has four galleries in which some of the most iconic artworks in the world will be showcased.

Louvre Abu Dhabi exterior

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s exterior © Louvre Abu Dhabi, Photography: Mohamed Somji

Drone Photography Wows the World

The popularity of drone photography continued to awe with some of the most captivating sights in the world captured in some of the best photographs for the 4th annual International Drone Photography Contest.

East Greenland

Florian Ledoux

Solar-Power Energy is Dominating New Energy

Accounting for two-thirds of new power added to the world’s grids in 2016, solar-powered energy is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy. As we approach 2018 solar-powered energy is expected to continue surpassing other sources of energy, giving a much-needed boost to the global effort of combating environmental issues.

Climate Change Predictions Worsen

A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios had to create two new risk categories: “unknown” and “catastrophic”. There is now a shocking 1-in-20 chance climate change could lead to the extinction of humanity and other species.

So that’s 2017 year in review for you – the good, bad, and the, well… Trump!

Also Read:

Japan Travel: The Ultimate Local’s Guide to Tokyo

Best of 2016 in pictures: Nature and Wildlife