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Cheryl Ravelo

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STAYING COOL
STAYING COOL: A boy cooled off with water from a hose on a hot day in Manila Tuesday. (Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters)

MOURNING A LOSS
MOURNING A LOSS: A Shiite Muslim woman cried during the funeral of Salah Abbas, 36, whose body was found late last week after he was allegedly shot dead by security forces, in the Shiite village of Bilad Al-Qadim, Bahrain, Monday. (AFP/Getty Images)

LARGER THAN LIFE
LARGER THAN LIFE: North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun was shown on a giant screen during a concert on the eve of the 80th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

AWKWARD PHASE
AWKWARD PHASE: A girl helped her boyfriend squeeze a pimple while standing on a street in downtown Shanghai Tuesday. (Aly Song/Reuters)

STILL SEARCHING
STILL SEARCHING: Bystanders looked at a billboard in Herat, Afghanistan, promising a reward for information leading to the recovery of former FBI agent Robert Levinson Tuesday. Mr. Levinson disappeared some five years ago in Iran. (Jalil Rezayee/European Pressphoto Agency)

LOOKING BACK
LOOKING BACK: People laid flowers at a memorial Tuesday in Yerevan, Armenia, to people killed by Ottoman Turks during World War I, marking the 97th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. (Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images)

STORM CLOUDS GATHER
STORM CLOUDS GATHER: Dark clouds hung over cranes at a construction site in Munich Tuesday. (Stephan Jansen/AFP/Getty Images)

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April 22 will mark Earth Day worldwide, an event now in its 42nd year and observed in 175 countries. The original grass-roots environmental action helped spur the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the United States. Gathered here are images of our planet's environment, efforts to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy, and the effects of different forms of pollution. -- Lane Turner and Leanne Burden Seidel (35 photos total)
A ladybug in flight spreads its wings as it flutters from grass blade to grass blade at Rooks Park in Walla Walla, Wash. on April 2, 2012. (Jeff Horner/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Associated Press)

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Tomorrow, March 22, is World Water Day, an event established by the United Nations in 1993 to highlight the challenges associated with this precious resource. Each year has a theme, and this year's is "Water and Food Security." The UN estimates that more than one in six people worldwide lack access to 20-50 liters (5-13 gallons) of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. And as the world's population grows beyond 7 billion, clean water is growing scarcer in densely populated areas as well as in remote villages. Collected here are recent images showing water in our lives -- how we use it, abuse it, and depend on it. [36 photos]

A journalist takes a sample of polluted red water from the Jianhe River in Luoyang, Henan province, China, on December 13, 2011. According to local media, the sources of the pollution were two illegal chemical plants discharging their production wastewater into the rain sewer pipes. (Reuters/China Daily)

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GUITAR AND A GUN
GUITAR AND A GUN: U.S. Army Sgt. Larrison Manygats, from Coal Mine Mesa, Ariz., walked with his guitar and weapon near housing units at Camp Kalsu in Iskandariya, Iraq, Tuesday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

SITTING PRETTY
SITTING PRETTY: A fruit vendor applied makeup near pumpkins at a market in Quezon, Philippines, Tuesday. (Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters)

FIERY RAGE
FIERY RAGE: A protester threw a Molotov cocktail toward police officers at Greek Parliament in Athens Tuesday. Thousands of people protested to commemorate the third anniversary of the fatal police shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

PAINFUL PRACTICE
PAINFUL PRACTICE: Shiite boys practiced self-flagellation during Ashura in New Delhi Tuesday. Ashura is on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram, when Muslims remember the killing of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

TIRE CHECK
TIRE CHECK: An employee inspected tires at a Hankook Tire factory in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, Tuesday. (Reuters)

STEMMING BLOOD
STEMMING BLOOD: Police officers carried a fellow officer after he was wounded during clashes with people who illegally occupied an area in Asuncion, Paraguay, Tuesday. Hundreds of families were evicted from the municipality’s land. (Jorge Saenz/Associated Press)

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According to projections by the United Nations, the world population has reached 7 billion and continues to grow rapidly.  While more people are living longer and healthier lives, gaps are widening between the rich and the poor in some nations and tens of millions of people are vulnerable to food and water shortages.  There is, of course, the issue of the impact of that sheer number on the environment, including pollution, waste disposal, use of natural resources and food production.  This post focuses on wheat and the effect of our numbers on the environment.  Wheat is the most important cereal in the world and along with rice and corn accounts for about 73 percent of all cereal production.  It isn't surprising that 7 billion people have a lasting impact on our world's natural resources and the environment in which we live. -- Paula Nelson (36 photos total)
One of the world's breadbaskets lies in the prairies of Canada. This stalk, near Lethbridge, Alberta, helps form the foundation for the most important food product in the world: cereal grains. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

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The Hajj pilgrimage draws millions of Muslims from around the world every year to Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's holiest place. Saudi Arabia expects to host perhaps three million people in a ritual journey that every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make at least once in their lifetime. It is the largest annual gathering of humanity anywhere. Timed to the Muslim lunar calendar, the Hajj is followed by the celebrations of the three-day festival of Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, which symbolizes Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. Collected here are photographs of the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as well as images of preparations for the Hajj and Eid al-Adha in many other parts of the Muslim world. -- Lane Turner (42 photos total)
A Muslim pilgrim prays as visits the Hiraa cave at the top of Noor Mountain on the outskirts of Mecca, Saudi Arabia on November 2, 2011. According to tradition, Islam's Prophet Mohammed received his first message to preach Islam while he was praying in the cave. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

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The United Nations estimates that in one week, on October 31, 2011, the world's population will reach 7 billion. Just 200 years ago, there were only 1 billion people on the planet, and over the next 150 years, that number grew to 3 billion. But in the past 50 years, the world's population has more than doubled, and it is projected to grow to 15 billion by the year 2100. As the UN points out, this increasing rate of change brings with it enormous challenges. Meeting the basic needs of so many will meaning growing, shipping, and distributing more food while providing more clean water, health care, and shelter -- all without inflicting too much further damage on our environment. [42 photos]

A baby gestures minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on October 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year and the cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

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AN ILLUMINATING OCCUPATION
AN ILLUMINATING OCCUPATION: A boy displayed toys for sale at a park in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday. (Anjum Naveed/Associated Press)

STRANDED IN SNOW
STRANDED IN SNOW: A driver waited for assistance on a road in Hami, Xinjiang, China Wednesday. At least two roads were temporarily shut down due to the snow. (Cai Zengle/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

FIELD HANDS
FIELD HANDS: Mexican migrant workers carried crates of organic spinach during the harvest at Grant Family Farms in Wellington, Colo., Tuesday. The farm owner says while demand is high, labor from Mexico is down this year, so he’ll be unable to harvest up to one-third of his crops. (John Moore/Getty Images)

LITTLE POTS
LITTLE POTS: A man made earthenware vessels for Diwali in Jodhpur, India, Wednesday. The festival of lights celebrates Lord Ram and the vanquishing of the demon King Ravana. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

COSMETICALLY ALTERED KENT
COSMETICALLY ALTERED CLARK: Herbert Chavez posed with his Superman memorabilia inside his house in Calamba, Philippines, Wednesday. Mr. Chavez has undergone cosmetic surgery to make himself resemble the ‘Man of Steel.’ (Cheryl Ravelo/Reuters)

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