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Landscapes of Extraction: Industrial Impacts Mar the Planet [Slide Show]

Industry and our pursuit of fossil fuels have left indelible marks on the planet in numerous ways

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ALUMINUM ROIL:

One of the most energy-intensive of human pursuits—turning bauxite into aluminum for everything from cans to cars—requires 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in the U.S. alone as well as caustic chemicals.....[ More ]

PULP AND PAPER:

The giant mills that turn trees into paper require massive amounts of energy and water, hence this one's location near the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, La.....[ More ]

LINKED LOGS:

Of course, it's not just fossil fuels that scar the planet. Many other industrial activities leave a massive mark, like this lengthy lineup of logs in Canada's boreal forest . The logs await transport to pulp and paper mills that manufacture facial tissues.....[ More ]

FERTILE WASTE LAND:

The U.S. wastes fertilizer—both nitrogen and phosphorus —but also creates tremendous amounts of waste to make it in the first place. To get at phosphate reserves, companies first clear-cut a swath of land, then excavate.....[ More ]

GASSY FOOD:

Another significant use for fossil fuels is turning natural gas into the fertilizers that have enabled world food production to soar, albeit overloading rivers and streams with agricultural runoff .....[ More ]

PLASTIC FLARE:

In addition to burning oil, humans turn petroleum into ubiquitous everyday plastics . This plant in Baton Rouge, La., has turned petroleum distillates into polymers since 1957. Modern uses of the product include reusable containers, laundry detergent bottles and milk cartons as well as ropes and textiles.....[ More ]

TAR SANDS:

Canada is now the number-one foreign supplier of oil to the U.S., thanks largely to massive tar sand deposits like this one near Fort McMurray in Alberta. The sands are mined and then shipped to processing plants where the oil is melted out with blasts of steam, among other industrial processes.....[ More ]

HYDRO-FRACKING:

A new glut of natural gas is being found by fracturing subterranean shale with water and chemicals—hence the term hydro-fracking. The process requires drill sites, obviously, but also pipelines and roads, as pictured here in Dimock, Pa.....[ More ]

OVERBURDEN:

That is the industry jargon for the rest of the mountain that lies over the precious coal —hence all that needs to be removed. Here at Kayford Mountain in West Virginia, bulldozers scrape away the residue of the mountaintop.....[ More ]

MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL:

The name could not be more plain and, as this picture proves, apt. The top of Kayford Mountain in West Virginia has been removed to get at low-sulfur coal that lies below. This mining approach wipes out forests, fills streams with the rubble of a mountaintop and, ultimately, eliminates jobs because it requires fewer miners than traditional methods.....[ More ]

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