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Heat, gas and NFTs: 2021's biggest records

From sizzling temperatures to pensioners in space, here are some of the most significant records set in 2021

Frida Kahlo's final self-portrait Diego y yo, or Diego and I, sold for a record $34.9 million at Sotheby's on November 5, 2021 in New York City.  (AFP)

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Hottest month: July 2021 was the hottest month globally ever recorded, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says. 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. In India, petrol and diesel prices have remained above the 100-mark for months.

Biggest airlift: 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.

Bitcoin soars: Cryptocurrency bitcoin soared to record levels in late 2021, being valued at $68,513 on November 9. The digital currency increasingly won support from small and large investors, some of whom see it as a way of protecting themselves against inflation, which hit a 30-year high in the US in October.

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 $2.7 billion, boosted in particular by the explosion in sales of unique digital works and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

Star Trek actor William Shatner poses with Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs; and Glen de Vries, co-founder of Medidata Solutions, before their space flight.
Star Trek actor William Shatner poses with Audrey Powers, Blue Origin's vice president of mission and flight operations; Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs; and Glen de Vries, co-founder of Medidata Solutions, before their space flight. (REUTERS)

Space tourists: 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 Pele as the best Latin American striker with 79 goals for Argentina.

Also read: We don't find our passion, we grow into it, says Ankur Warikoo

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