As we all know, the world is pretty weird right now - American politics, North Korea, climate change, fast fashion, landfill waste... The list goes on. But here are three important unnatural phenomena that have managed to largely slip under the radar.
Want to know the 'it' colour of the season? Look to the rivers.
In China, it is estimated that 70% of rivers and lakes are contaminated by 2.5 billion gallons of wastewater produced by the textile industry.
(Credits: Google satellite)
This photograph of the Peal River shows a dark blue streak running through it. This streak is not natural. It is the run-off dye used in China's Xintang province, where 300 million pairs of jeans are made every year (EcoWatch).
Ocean dead zones.
Dead zones are areas in our oceans and lakes where there is literally no oxygen. They are caused by fertilisers running off into the rivers that feed our oceans. These fertilisers cause huge 'algae blooms' which subsequently die, decompose and use up the oxygen in the sea.
This year the largest dead zone on record - 8,776 square miles - was declared off the Gulf of Mexico. That's the same size as Wales...
(Credits: Gulf of Mexico dead zone July 2017 N. Rabalais, LSU/LUMCON)
The fourth largest lake in the world turned to dust.
Lakes half the size of England are disappearing. Why? Part of the reason is that the fresh water is being used to fuel irrigation projects and to quench the thirst of a vast cotton industry.
In the 1960's an enormous irrigation network, including 20,000 miles of canals, 45 dams, and more than 80 reservoirs (Royal Geographic) were built around the Aral Sea to support the unsustainable cotton and wheat industries. Today the Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world, is three-quarters of its original size.
(Credits: Nasa Earth Observatory)
Three things you can do right now.
If the above scares you a little, here are three small things you can do right now to make a difference:
- Buy with a conscience. Brands are increasingly taking responsibility for the challenges we face. Take the time to read the label, understand where the product you are buying has come from and support brands that are doing awesome work to make a genuine difference.
- Meat-free Mondays. Switching up your standard 'meat & two veg' just once a week can make a big difference. Give it a try.
- Recycle & re-use. It may not sound sexy but 70% of all waste in the UK comes from the home. All it takes is putting another bin in your kitchen and thinking about re-using wherever possible. Simple!