What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images
What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images
By Michael McCutcheon / mic.com

Last week, Pope Francis and church officials encouraged everyone to consume less and think more about our impact on the environment.

It's a timely warning because the next six months will be critical to our future.

Ahead of a series of major events later this year, The Foundation for Deep Ecology and the Population Media Center released a collection that illustrates the devastating effects of out-of-control growth and waste, and it's breathtaking.

"This is an issue that people care about, and oftentimes it's just not discussed by mainstream media," Missie Thurston, director of marketing and communications at the Population Media Center, told Mic.

It's difficult to always know the impacts of our daily choices, like the real effect of buying a bottled water or an extra TV or laptop. With 220,000 more people on the planet every day, and the average person generating over 4 pounds of waste a day — an almost 60% increase since 1960 — the impact of that growth and change in behavior is rarely seen like this. 


Source: Peter Essick/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Electronic waste, from around the world, is shipped to Accra, Ghana, where locals break apart the electronics for minerals or burn them. 


Source: Pablo Lopez Luz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Mexico City, Mexico, one of the most populous cities in the Western Hemisphere.


Source: Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology

New Delhi, India, where many landfills are reaching a breaking point. The surrounding population of Delhi totals some 25 million people


Source: Mike Hedge/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Los Angeles, California, which is famous for sometimes having more cars than people.


Source: Mark Gamba/Corbis/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Kern River Oil Field, California, USA.


Source: Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Former old-growth forest leveled for reservoir development, Willamette National Forest, Oregon, per thePopulation Media Center.


Source: Jason Hawkes/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Coal power plant, United Kingdom.


Source: Cotton Coulson/Keenpress/Foundation for Deep Ecology

North East Land, Svalbard, Norway, where rising global temperatures are fundamentally changing the ecology.


Source: Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology

The world's largest diamond mine, Russia.


Source: Daniel Beltra/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Amazon jungle burns to make room for grazing cattle, Brazil.


Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tar sands and open pit mining in an area so vast, it can be seen from space. Alberta, Canada.


Source: Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tires discarded in Nevada.


Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Vancouver Island, Canada.


Source: Yann Arthus Bertrand/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Industrial agriculture in Almeria, Spain, stretches for miles.


Source: Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Tar sands, Alberta, Canada.


Source: Lu Guang/Foundation for Deep Ecology

A man turns away from the smell of the Yellow River in China.


Source: M.R. Hasasn/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Bangladesh, where much of the world's clothing and goods are manufactured.


Source: Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Foundation for Deep Ecology

Black Friday, Boise, Idaho.


Source: Zak Noyle/Foundation for Deep Ecology

A remote bay in Java, Indonesia, where local residents, without infrastructure for waste disposal, discard waste directly into streams and rivers.


The rest of the year is going to be critical. In September, world leaders will try and agree on sustainable development goals that will take us through 2030. In December, in Paris, the United Nations will attempt to finally set binding limits on pollution. 2015 will dictate how we address our degrading planet over the next few decades.

The Population Media Center and partners hope these photos will help generate awareness and action. Because as the word spreads, so does the will to make sure we never have to see images like these again.

4.8 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Inside the Invisible Government: John Pilger on War, Propaganda, Clinton and Trump
John Pilger · 10,355 views today · The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was...
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 9,229 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Free Trade Explained In An Excellent Comic
Michael Goodwin, Illustrated by Dan E. Burr · 5,938 views today · The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are the latest in a long line...
Democracy in the Digital Era
Birgitta Jonsdottir · 5,132 views today · Our current democratic models are crumbling and outdated. We need to make something more real and meaningful. Activist and politician Birgitta Jónsdóttir points to how it might...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 4,790 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 4,219 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 3,162 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Open Up - Have the Difficult But Important Conversations With Loved Ones
5 min · 2,696 views today · “The biggest casualty of humanity is the lack of communication, it’s the thing that breaks most relationships. It just feels so much better to talk and get it out.” There is...
Who I'm Voting For...
3 min · 2,532 views today · Prince Ea announces who he's voting for. It's probably not who you think.
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
3 min · 2,222 views today · In addition to her well-known autobiographies, Maya Angelou has steadily written poetry over the years. In this video Professor Angelou recites her poem, "And Still I Rise,"...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,373 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 953 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 757 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 708 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
'Maritime Graveyard': 2016 Deadliest Year Ever for Refugees Crossing Mediterranean
Deirdre Fulton · 705 views today · "From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88," says UNHCR spokesman
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 651 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
#Hypernormalisation - Why Heathrow Plan Is Proof We Exist in a Catastrophic Fantasyland
Matthew Adams · 634 views today · The British government recently gave the green light for Heathrow airport’s third runway. It was heralded by its supporters as a vital boost for jobs and growth – and proof...
The Empire Vs. The People - Police Attack and Arrest Peaceful Protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline
6 min · 505 views today · On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 440 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
The Anthropocene Is Here: Humanity Has Pushed Earth Into a New Epoch
Deirdre Fulton · 431 views today · The epoch is thought to have begun in the 1950s, when human activity set global systems on a different trajectory
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images