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Martin Bernetti

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There are now over one billion automobiles on the road worldwide. An explosion in the auto markets in China and India ensures that number will increase, with China supplanting the United States as the world's largest car market. It's fair to say humanity has a love affair with the car, but it's a love-hate relationship. Cars are at once convenience, art, and menace. People write songs about their vehicles, put them in museums, race them, and wrap their identities up in them. About 15% of carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels comes from cars. Traffic fatality estimates vary from half a million per year to more than double that. Gathered here are images of the automobile in many forms, and our relationship to and dependence on our cars. This is the second in an occasional Big Picture series on transportation, following Pedal power earlier this year. -- Lane Turner (40 photos total)
Antti Rahko stands next to his self-made "Finnjet" during preparations for the Essen Motor Show in Essen, Germany on November 22, 2012. The car rolls on eight wheels, offers ten seats, weighs 3.4 tons and is worth about one million US dollars. (Marius Becker/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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More than 500 teams are currently speeding across the deserts of Argentina, Chile, and Peru, racing more than 8,300 km (5,150 mi) in the 33rd annual Dakar Rally. Competitors pit themselves against the elements, driving specialized off-road cars, trucks, motorcycles, and quadbikes through challenging terrain for two weeks. One rider, Argentine Jorge Martinez Boero, has already died this year in a crash. The 2012 Dakar Rally began in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on January 1, and racers reached the finish line in Lima, Peru, on Sunday, January 15. [41 photos]

Stefan Svitko rides his KTM during the 10th stage of the Dakar Rally 2012, from Iquique to Arica, Chile, on January 11, 2012. (Reuters/Jerome Prevot)

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Philip Toczylowski, of Philadelphia, sits by his son’s grave with a trumpet at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, a day after the Pentagon declared an end to the war in Iraq. Toczylowski says that he plays taps every time he visits the grave of his son, Army Major Jeffrey Philip [...]

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The ongoing student demonstrations in Chile began as a protest over the costs, profits, and fairness of higher education there. They have since attracted other segments of Chilean society venting frustration over wages, health care, and other issues. Uniting the protesters is common dissatisfaction with hugely unpopular President Sebastian Pinera and social inequality. Workers joined a 48-hour general strike in August which, like many demonstrations during the course of the protests, was met with police using tear gas and water cannons on the participants. With changes in the education system still unsettled, the student protests are likely to continue. Chileans yesterday celebrated their national independence day. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)
Students are hit by water cannons during a rally to demand changes in the public state education system in Santiago July 28, 2011. (Carlos Vera/Reuters)

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Puyehue volcano in southern Chile has spread volcanic ash far and wide since it erupted in early June. On Monday, Argentina's president announced that economic relief would be provided to residents affected by the ash in the southwestern region of Patagonia. And as recent as July 1 ash in the atmosphere was disrupting flights at the Buenos Aires airport. These images show how the earth's landscape has been affected. Here's a link to view our original post on June 8. -- Lloyd Young
(32 photos total)
A horse walks on a field covered by volcanic ash from Chilean volcano Puyehue, near Villa Llanquin, a hamlet along route 40 on the banks of Limay river, 50 km from Bariloche, in the Argentine province of Rio Negro, on June 17, 2011. The ash cloud from Chile's Puyehue volcano caused widespread travel chaos in the southern hemisphere since it erupted for the first time on June 4 after lying dormant half a century. (rancisco Ramos Mejia/AFP/Getty Images)

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