July 2021 was the hottest month globally ever recorded, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says. And wildfires in Siberia, North America and around the Mediterranean caused record levels of CO2 emissions in July and August, the EU's Earth monitoring service says.
Record gas prices
As economies reopen from their Covid-induced slumber firing heightened gas demand, prices in Asian, European and British gas hit record peaks. Europe's reference Dutch TTF gas price hit 187.78 euros per megawatt hour.
The United States carried out its biggest ever airlift in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, bigger even than the evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. It airlifted more than 123,000 people out of Kabul, including US citizens, Afghan interpreters and others who supported the US mission. Around 55,000 people were evacuated from southern Vietnam in 1975.
Suez Canal blocked
The giant container ship Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal in March, bringing a halt to shipping for six days in one of the world's busiest waterways. The ship, almost as long as New York's Empire State Building, caused a record traffic jam of 422 ships loaded with 26 million tonnes of merchandise, worsening supply difficulties already disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The most dramatic Chinese incursion into disputed Taiwanese airspace occurred at the start of October as China marked its annual national day when a record 149 flights crossed into Taiwan's southwestern air defence zone in four days.
Cryptocurrency bitcoin soared to record levels in late 2021, being valued at US$68,513 on November 9. The digital currency increasingly won support from small and large investors across the world, some of whom see it as a way of protecting themselves against inflation, which hit a 30-year high in the United States in October and is running at more than 50 percent annually in Argentina
Art goes wild
Art sales records in 2021 included works by Frida Kahlo, veteran French artist Pierre Soulages and Banksy reaching sky-high levels. Revenues from sales of contemporary art have never been as high, totalling US$2.7 billion, boosted in particular by the explosion in sales of unique digital works and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
Captain Kirk of Star Trek, alias veteran actor William Shatner, became the oldest person to go into space at 90. He was among two dozen non-professionals who blasted off into space in 2021 on rockets owned by billionaires Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic).
Ronaldo versus Messi
Two of football's living legends, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina's Lionel Messi, rewrote the record books. Ronaldo became the top scorer of all time for a national team with 115 goals and also the most capped European, having been selected 184 times. Messi outstripped Brazil's Pelé as Latin America’s top forward with 79 goals for Argentina.
Everest and the Channel
Nepal's Kami Rita Sherpa beat his own record for climbing Everest, claiming a 25th successful ascent to the roof of the world in May. Australia's Chloe McCardel, 36, became the person to have swum the Channel the most – a remarkable 44 times.