Most of us don’t usually think about how our daily actions impact the world around us. A few plastic bags here, a water bottle there. It’s difficult to visualize any immediate changes to our surroundings. However, when you look at the fact that the average person generates more than four pounds of waste every day, you can imagine that it would start to add up. These shocking photographs show the horrifying results of increasing population growth and endless waste generation, and they are absolutely jaw-dropping.
Spread the word. You probably know some people who the following images and commentary who are not aware of the high-stakes game that is being played with our health and our children's lives. Educate your friends, neighbors, and family members by liking this post, sharing on Facebook and Twitter. Together we can reach a tipping point in the struggle against poor government and economic greed.
Surfing through Java, Indonesia Trash
This photo from Java, Indonesia is of a man surfing amidst garbage in a bay in Java, Indonesia. Residents of the area do not have a system for waste disposal, so they are forced to discard their trash directly into the water. Become a smarter consumer. Read labels. Make better purchasing choices to protect your family's health. Get involved politically. Write letters and emails; make phone calls when public input is solicited or when important legislation on our environment is being considered. Attend public meetings and ask pointed questions. Turn out for demonstrations.
People watch as Typhoon Usagi hits the shore in Guangdong province, Philippines in 2013. Climate change has caused an increase in the amount of severe weather events worldwide. We need to let our respective governments know that the people are aware and will not compromise their family's health and that of the environment to advance profits of the few.
We have lost confidence in the supposed impartiality of scientific research from skewed results, funded and presented by Big Money. True environmental advocates uncover or conduct research of their own and real science becomes true again and not just politicized nonsense.
Mexico City, Mexico Over-Population
Mexico City, Mexico is one of the most heavily populated cities in the Western Hemisphere. The city is extremely cramped and dirty. At an altitude of 7000 feet, the City is on a giant plateau surrounded by mountains – topologically this is like a bowl. The pollution from traffic and factories is captured in the bowl by ‘thermal inversion’ and cannot escape. The water table is sinking, the aquifers beneath the city are being emptied, and a huge water crisis is looming. The drainage system is antiquated and collapsing, leading to flooding and drains overflowing. The water system is polluted by sewage.
Death In Africa
Changing weather conditions, including droughts and floods, are threatening both the people and wildlife in Africa and it is increasing. Africa's human existence and development is under threat from the adverse impacts of climate change – its population, ecosystems and unique biodiversity will all be the victims of global climate change. By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%. The continents poor state of economic development and low adaptive capacity, extreme poverty, frequent natural disasters such as droughts and floods, and heavy dependence of agriculture on rainfall further increases the continents vulnerability.
Coal Plant Pollution in The United Kingdom
Here you can see a coal power plant in the United Kingdom billowing plumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A typical 500 megawatt coal plant burns 1.4 million tons of coal each year. As of 2012, there are 572 operational coal plants in the U.S.A alone and it is estimated there are currently 1,199 proposed coal plants in 59 countries proposed.
Coal pollutes when it is mined, transported to the power plant, stored, and burned. Burning coal causes smog, soot, acid rain, global warming, and toxic air emissions. Ash, sludge, toxic chemicals, and waste heat create more environmental problems.
Yellow River, China Pollution
China’s Yellow River has been deemed unsafe for use of any sort of use because of its extremely high levels of pollution. Discharge from factories along the river has this man turning away in disgust. A third of China's fabled Yellow River, which supplies water to millions of people in the country's north, is heavily polluted by industrial waste and unsafe for any use. The Yellow River, the second-longest in China after the Yangtze, has seen its water quality deteriorate rapidly in recent years, as discharge from factories increase and water levels drop because of diversion for their rapidly expanding cities.
Evacuating Ghoramara Island
Ghoramara Island in West Bengal, India has been experiencing severe sea level rises because of the effects of global warming. Since the 1980’s, more than 50% of the land has been washed away. Global warming has also caused their rivers to swell, as snow melts off the mighty Himalayas and pours into the Bay of Bengal. Lohachara, a former island near Ghoramara, now lies deep under the water. Climate refugees from both Lohachara and Ghoramara villages have fled to nearby Sagar Island, where they live in camps built by the Indian government. Only a few subsistence fishermen and betel farmers remain.
Strip Mining the Mir Mine
This image shows the Mir Mine, the world’s largest diamond mine, in Russia. Diamond mining is devastating for the land, as this photo illustrates perfectly. The airspace over this mine is closed for flying because there have been reported incidents of helicopters being sucked in by the airflow. This phenomenon occurs because the size of the Mirny diamond mine often causes the nearby atmosphere to have drastically different temperatures and current flows. Today, the mine site as a giant scar in one of the most remote parts of the world. If you think this is bad, wait until you see #24.
Drought in India
Residents of West Bengal, India face water shortages because of intense droughts, as well as many other harsh climate changes. By 2025, fresh water will overtake oil as the most precious commodity on earth, especially in India and Africa. Though several parts of the impoverished country have already begun feeling the pinch, West Bengal remains blissfully unaware of the impending crisis. Rapid urbanization, coupled with indiscriminate and unregulated tapping of ground water, has created a huge imbalance between water recharge and exploitation. In a few years, there could be large-scale subsidence if the water table continues to decline at the present rate.
Clearcut Forest at Willamette National Forest
This photo is of the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, or what’s left of it. The forest was leveled for reservoir development. Clearcutting was common on public lands until the 1990s, when the impacts of unsustainable old-growth logging were finally recognized and protections for fish and wildlife on the brink of extinction were put in place. Since then, clearcutting has not been widely practiced on federal lands for a variety of reasons ranging from inherent controversy to impacts to wildlife habitat. But clearcuts are still allowed on federal public lands in areas designated as “matrix” under the Northwest Forest Plan.
Trash Pollution in Bangladesh
A large amount of the world’s goods and clothing are manufactured in Bangladesh to make use of the cheap labor. The country is filled with sweatshops where children spend long hours sewing clothes. Industrial areas in Bangladesh are situated in the midst of densely populated regions and the growth of industries has generally been unplanned without keeping the issue of environmental protection in consideration. Gazipur District is one such industrial cluster where rapid, unplanned industrial expansion has led to serious local pollution. Its close proximity to Dhaka has gradually led to more industries dumping trash indiscriminately the past two decades.
Several large scale oil spills have taken place in the last few decades. These catastrophic incidents leave countless animals dead, and many more in horrible condition. Oil spills can affect animals and plants in two ways: from the oil itself and from the response or cleanup operations. Spilled oil can harm living things because its chemical constituents are poisonous which can affect organisms both from internal exposure to oil through ingestion or inhalation and from external exposure through skin and eye irritation. Oil can also smother some small species of fish or invertebrates and coat feathers and fur, reducing birds' and mammals' ability to maintain their body temperatures.
Overpopulation in New Delhi, India
The population of New Delhi, India and its surrounding areas is around 25 million. India is known for its severe overpopulation problem and development of infrastructural facilities is not keeping pace with its growth. The result is lack of transportation, communication, housing, education, and healthcare. Land areas, water resources, over-exploited forests, and scarcity of resources compound this. Food production and distribution have not been able to catch up with the increasing population and hence the costs of production have increased leading to inflation. In the face of an increasing population, there is an unequal distribution of income and inequalities within the country widen.
Starvation in the Artic
This image of an emaciated polar bear wandering on a thin patch of ice has shocked people worldwide. The situation for this species is only getting worse. The primary conservation concern for polar bears is habitat loss and reduced access to their primary prey due to climate change. Wind and ocean currents transport pollutants to parts of the Arctic, where they concentrate as they make their way up the food chain. Polar bears absorb these higher levels when they eat seals. The problem is compounded by the fact that many such chemicals are fat-soluble and the Arctic has a relatively high-fat food web.
Oil Drilling in California
This photograph is of the Kern River oil field in California. It is the fifth largest oil field in the United States. It is also the site of the largest oil spill in the U.S. history. A gusher shot oil more than 200 feet into the air for 544 days, spewing more than 9 million barrels (378 million gallons/1.4 billion liters) of oil into the environment — less than half of which was removed. The oil remains in place to this very day and even 100 years later, this oil-contaminated area is not good for anything, although there is a museum there.
Trash Dumped in a Nevada desert
As a whole, we usually trust in the services society provides us, like waste disposal. But that trust dissipates with images such as this one of tires thrown out in the middle of the desert in Nevada where a landfill outside Reno imports over 275,000 tons of waste each year. In the United States, people use over 1.8 billion disposable diapers, 220 million tires, and 30 billion foam cups per year. There are between 300 and 500 chemicals in the average person’s body that were not found in anyone’s body before 1920. Over 80% of items buried in landfills could be recycled, but aren't.
Mining in Almeria, Spain
The main industry in Almeria, Spain is marble quarrying. The infrastructure stretches endlessly across the landscape. Quarrying causes a significant impact on the environment. In particular, it is often necessary to blast rocks with explosives in order to extract material for processing but this method of extraction gives rise to including noise pollution, air pollution, damage to biodiversity and habitat destruction. Dust from blasts and transportation required in the process can also have physical effects on the surrounding plants, such as blocking and damaging their internal structures and abrasion of leaves and cuticles, as well as chemical effects which may affect long-term survival of surrounding flora.
Electronic Waste in Accra, Ghana
Accra, Ghana and other Third World countries is where E-waste from end-of-life computers, televisions, printers, and mobile phones ends up. There, local residents break apart the machines for parts or burn them. In addition to its damaging effect on the environment and its illegal smuggling into developing countries, researchers have linked E-waste to adverse effects on human health, such as inflammation and oxidative stress – precursors to cardiovascular disease, DNA damage and possibly cancer. Due to the crude recycling process, many pollutants, such as persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals, are released, which can accumulate in the human body through the inhalation of contaminated air.
Deforestation in the Amazon jungle
This photo from Brazil shows the Amazon Jungle burning to make space for grazing cattle. By 1995, 70% of the forest had been destroyed by humans and converted to cattle ranching. The Brazilian government thought it would be a good idea back in the 1970's to integrate the rainforest with civilization and created over 9000 miles of roadways right through it. To do this, the forest was cleared and countless trees were destroyed. There was an unanticipated consequence of the government building roadways as various types of opportunists' were able to reach the endangered resources more efficiently including the declining indigenous tribes.
Massive Fish Die-offs
Numerous fish died in an Indonesian lake after being poisoned. Changes in weather which led to severe storms caused the stirring up of sulfur. Fish die offs can be caused by reduced oxygen in the water, due to factors such as drought, algae bloom, overpopulation, or a sustained increase in water temperature. Fish kills are often the first visible signs of environmental stress. Many fish species have a relatively low tolerance of variations in environmental conditions and their death is often a potent indicator of problems in their environment and may have a direct impact on other uses of the water such as for drinking water.
Drought and Overpopulation in Los Angeles, California
This is a birds eye shot of Los Angeles, (pop. 19 million+) at night. Global warming has caused excessive heat that may have worsened drought's effects, but it isn't necessarily to blame for the lack of rain. Recently rain and snow has diminished but that's just a result of "natural variance" and not necessarily because of man-made pollution. In California and the larger Colorado River basin, mismanagement of the water supply has left the West more vulnerable to both short and long-term changes in climate. Historic water rights gives farms first rights to California's streams and rivers, and haven't been adjusted as the state's population has increased.
Melting Glaciers in Norway
In Svalbard, Norway, as well as other places around the world, the increasing global temperatures are melting ice caps and causing drastic rises in sea levels. Globally, the retreat of glaciers since 1850 affects the availability of fresh water for irrigation and domestic use, mountain recreation, animals and plants that depend on glacier-melt, and, in the longer term, the level of the oceans. Studied by glaciologists, the temporal coincidence of glacier retreat with the measured increase of atmospheric greenhouse gasses is often cited as an evidentiary underpinning of global warming. Since 2013, of 33 Norwegian glaciers surveyed, 26 were found to be retreating.
Pit Mining in Alberta, Canada
Open pit mining and tar deposit in this region of Alberta, Canada takes up an area so huge that it can be seen from outer space. Alberta's boreal forest and wetlands are home to a range of animals, including lynx, caribou and grizzly bears, and serve asl breeding grounds for songbirds and waterfowl. Oil companies are scraping up hundreds of thousands of acres of this wildlife haven to mine tar sands. Beyond the permanently scarred surface of the former boreal forests, emissions of potentially hazardous air pollution that were used in environmental reviews done before approving the projects did not include evaporation from tailings ponds or dust from mining sites.
Deforestation on Vancouver Island, Canada
View this extensive deforestation on Vancouver Island in Canada where humans have destroyed an immeasurable amount of natural habitats and ecosystems. These belonged to an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem that was widespread until the advent of industrial clearcut logging. Within the last 50 years, the deforestation has been catastrophic. Cathedral Grove is one of the last surviving repositories of its kind yet commercial plundering has not stopped. The corporations are aided in their actions by the governments of Canada and BC which offer incentives to kill the last big tree survivors for export markets, for example, to supply mulch and cedar window and door components.