What Humans are Really Doing to our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images

Surfing in Trash

Zak Noyle/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Surfing through trash in Java, Indonesia.

It’s hard to deny that we’ve got an environmental crisis on our hands. For a long time, it’s been a talking point, though the moniker has changed a bit. At one time it was called “global warming”, but when the mercury plummeted in certain parts of the globe, instead of rising, global warming was brushed off by certain groups as a fad. Something not to be taken seriously. 

Burning Amazon

Daniel Beltra/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Burning the Amazon in Brazil to make way for cattle grazing.

Keeping a wary eye on disconcerting figures all around the globe, scientists and activists knew even then that this discussion needed to continue. So “climate change” became the new umbrella term for all the extreme weather and harsh conditions, much of which can be attributed to the negligence of human beings. As climate change has given way to what we now call the “climate crisis”, we’re well past the point of being able to ignore the issues that humans are causing. 

Melting Glacier

Cotton Coulson/Keenpress/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Rising temperatures changing the landscape in North East Land, Svalbard, Norway.

There is a saying that goes: “I must do something” will always solve more problems than “something must be done”. Indeed all the power that we have resides within us and the choices we make. Choosing a reusable bottle, not a plastic one. Foregoing a paper towel in favor of a cloth one. Shopping at resale clothing stores instead of purchasing new ones. Little changes count. But with around 7.5 billion people on the planet already, and another 3 billion projected by 2050, big changes need to come about too. (1) Conservation in your day to day means a lot – it really does. But the bigger picture needs considering right now. Things like…
Black Friday

Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Boise, Idaho Black Friday Petersburg
Electronic waste

Peter Essick/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Locals break apart electronics from around the world for minerals or burn them in Accra, Ghana.


The idea of not owning a car is likely completely unfathomable to some people. Not only that, but it might be impossible. Distance from their home to work, or home to anywhere, might make living without a car a complete nightmare. This is the way their life is set up right now, dependent on a vehicle. In many ways, this is how we’ve always done it… it’s kind of the dream. You grow up, get a house in the suburbs with a nice sport utility vehicle and a couple of kiddos. 


Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Discarded tires in Nevada.

But the reality is that our vehicles, and the roads we drive them on, are destroying our planet. By extension, they are destroying us. The green vehicle movement is a nice thought, but the tiniest minority of cars, estimated at 0.0005%, could be considered “green”. (1)

The idea of being without a vehicle might be scary, and indeed it might not be an option for you right now. But, will it be an option later? Can you move toward that as the ultimate goal? When Los Angeles is rumored to have more cars than people, we’ve really got to start examining our priorities.

Population & Cars

Mike Hedge/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Aerial view of Los Angeles, CA.


Corporations own our politicians, no two ways about it. And all that corporations want is more money and more power. Corporations buy politicians because the politicians are the ones who pass the laws. If you’re Nestle and you want to keep manufacturing plastic bottles to the detriment of the environment, you’d better add a senator or two to your trophy case. But wait, don’t the senators work for us? How did we get thrown out of the loop here? Exactly. 

Clothing & Goods Manufacturing

M.R. Hasasn/Foundation for Deep Ecology – A large portion of clothing and goods are manufactured in Bangladesh.

The ones who need to be thrown out of the loop are the shady politicians who can be bought. We need to vote them out.

But first, do a little reading. Brush up on all the ways that corporations are destroying our planet, wholly unchecked, and get really angry. We’re too complacent right now. It’s time to find politicians who can’t be bought and understand the gravity of the environmental catastrophe we’re facing. 

What Humans are Really Doing to our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images

M.R. Hasasn/Foundation for Deep Ecology- Oil Fields in Kern River, CA


This one is a tough one, I know. But there are a lot of people on this planet, some might say too many. Between 1960 and 1999, our numbers doubled from three to six billion people. By 2050, it’s estimated that we could be at ten billion. (1) These are all people who the corporations will want to own, and who themselves will want to own cars, and all the rest of it. The average US supermarket offers more than 50,000 products. (1) What will they look like in 2050, and why do we need all this stuff? 


Our reasons for having children are personal, and I understand that completely. But it’s getting to the point where we’re running out of room, and resources. We’re about to suffocate ourselves. 

Populatioin & Landfills

Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Landfills are reaching their breaking point to support around 25 million people in New Delhi, India.

It’s strange to think of the environmental impact of creating another human, but I think we need to start.

There are so many ways that we impact the environment, from big important decisions like buying a car, to smaller ones like whether to use a straw. Switching our mindset over to a more “present” state, paying attention to what we’re doing right now, will help to shift our habits. When we know better, we do better. One step at a time.

Industrial Agriculture

Yann Arthus Bertrand/Foundation for Deep Ecology –  Industrial agriculture stretches on for miles in Almeria, Spain.

Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Leveled for reservoir development, a former old-growth forest now sits as stumps in Willamette National Forest, Oregon.

Daniel Dancer/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Leveled for reservoir development, a former old-growth forest now sits as stumps in Willamette National Forest, Oregon.

Lack of Ecology

Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Vancouver Island, Canada.

Coal Power Plant

Jason Hawkes/Foundation for Deep Ecology – A coal power plant in the United Kingdom.

Tar Sands

Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

Pit Mining

Garth Lentz/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Open-pit mining so vast that it can be seen from space in Alberta, Canada.

Diamond Mine

Digital Globe/Foundation for Deep Ecology – The world’s largest diamond mine in Russia.

Yellow River

Lu Guang/Foundation for Deep Ecology – Putrid smell at the Yellow River in China.

By Emily Murray

Published on February 20, 2020