10 Images That Show The Effect Humans Are Having on the Planet

“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.” ~ Winston Churchill

Humans. Capable of so much, yet accomplishing so little. Yes, we’ve done some pretty extraordinary things over the course of our short time here on this earth, but the majority of them, unfortunately, haven’t been without their consequences — consequences that already appear to be coming to a head in many areas of the world.

Today, April 22, is Earth Day. Following are 10 images that show glaring examples of some of our most basic dysfunctions: the inability to provide food and shelter for everyone, the incorrect use of resources, our carelessness and disregard for others, and the waste that is so often caused by it all.

They are not meant to depress you, only, hopefully, re-mind you to be a little more mindful in your own daily activities, simply doing what you can, when you can. Remember, we’re all in this together. Every little bit counts.

Surfing… at the dump?


Image: Zak Noyle

It is estimated that there are now over 5 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the world’s oceans, which translates to somewhere around 250 000 tonnes. Each of the major oceans have areas known as ‘gyres’ where the plastics gather in great currents. One of these is  actually known as the ‘great Pacific garbage patch’ and covers an area roughly the size of Texas.

Here Come The Three-Eyed Fish


As if the plastics weren’t bad enough, we now have the radioactive waste from Fukushima in our waters. While little is still known about the effects of such radiation in our air, even less is known about how it will effect our water.

Cell Phone Zombie Apocalypse

sea of cell phones

Image: Chris Jordan

Cell phones are just the tip of the iceberg. Electronic waste in general is set to become one of the biggest issues of the next few decades, as the exponential growth of technology continues to put newer, flashier, smarter versions of everything in front of our eyes.

The Popping Population

mexico city sprawl

population growth

Top: Urban Sprawl in Mexico City, one of the most densely populated places in the world. Local ecosystems have apparently been devastated, leading the city’s air to move from “among the world’s cleanest to among the dirtiest in the span of a generation.” (wikipedia)

Bottom: Estimated population growth over the next half century.

Amazon / Amazoffamazon rain forest

amazon rainforest

Top: A healthy section of the Amazon rainforest in Peru.

Bottom: A stripped section of Amazon rainforest. Ever seen a cancer cell?

This Travesty.

This is Joyce. She is a six year old “Nail Kid” at a dumpsite in the Phillipines. For a kilo bag of nails she’ll receive 30 cents.

It’s Getting Hot in Here…

global warming

Pretty self-explanatory.

Space Garbage

space garbage

So we started this post with garbage, and we end it with garbage. (Hey, we produce a lot of the stuff). What we’ve got here is an image that estimates all the junk we’ve discarded in space. (You can also see a video of it here.)

Apparently only 7% of it is useful spacecraft (i.e. satellites). The rest of it is discarded rocket bodies, mission related objects and “miscellaneous fragments”. So the mess we’ve created isn’t even confined to the planet that created us.

Again, please don’t let all of this depress you — let it inspire you instead! It was gathered here as reminder for all of us to buck up in areas we may have let slip over the last little while, whatever they may be (if something popped into your head just now, that’s it).

Whether it’s something as simple as getting more prudent with our recycling, or something as big as starting a business that will have a positive effect on the world, whatever it is, today’s the day! Get on with it. Happy Earth Day.