A Bird’s Eye View of the Industrial Scars We Have Left on Our Planet
Industrial Scars is the work of environmentalist and photographer, J Henry Fair, who brings our attention to the tragic effects created by the human impact on our planet. At first, his photographs are mesmerisingly beautiful: taken at bird’s eye perspective from a small plane, their shapes, colours and details give them an aesthetic quality that entrance and capture the imagination, yet concern and horror creep in on the realisation of the true reality of the subject. Our ever-increasing demand for energy, regularly-changing eating habits and rampant consumerism are rapidly leading to the degradation of our planet.
Industrial Scars reveals unseen views of the effects of such production on our environment, exposing the secrets from oil drilling, hydro-fracking and coal-ash waste, to large scale agricultural production and abandoned mining operations. Each of Fair’s striking images are accompanied by detailed explanations from award-winning science writer, Lewis Smith, who writes about the effects of rampant consumerism on our environment and describes the development of industries through time and across the world.
Below you will find a selection of jarring photos from the book. You can find more information here.
ALUMINIUM – GRAMERCY, LOUISIANA, USA
ALUMINIUM – GRAMERCY, LOUISIANA, USA. Red mud waste material is pumped onto the upper surface of a massive waste impoundment in a water slurry. The impoundments are essentially very large shallow bowls, engineered to de-water the slurry through evaporation and an internal drainage system fed by an arrangement of funnel-like decant points where water collects in pools.
FOOD – LULING, LOUISIANA, USA
FOOD – LULING, LOUISIANA, USA. New evidence contradicts previous claims of the relative safety of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, which is manufactured here. It is often used in conjunction with seeds that have been genetically modified to tolerate its application, meaning that anyone consuming these crops is eating a genetically modified plant, and whatever residue of the pesticide remains.
OIL – FORT MCMURRAY, CANADA
OIL – FORT MCMURRAY, CANADA. The first step in the oil sands process after extraction is ‘upgrading’, in which particulate matter is removed from the bitumen and its viscosity reduced so that refineries can process it. This is a photograph of the top of a petroleum tank, with a walkway out to the covered inspection hatch in the centre. This tank stores 400,000 to 500,000 barrels of the world’s dirtiest oil, obtained by excavating large areas of Canadian tar sands.
FRACKING – SPRINGVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
FRACKING – SPRINGVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA, USA. Collection pit for drilling waste containing ground rock, drilling muds (the lubricants and chemicals used during drilling), and in some cases radioactive material existing in the target shale layer. The overspray at the top is a violation and a danger to any water bodies downhill.
ALUMINIUM – DARROW, LOUISIANA, USA
ALUMINIUM – DARROW, LOUISIANA, USA. This ‘red mud’ waste from the processing of bauxite ore is the same type of toxic material that spilled south of Budapest in 2010, flowing into the River Marcal, killing all the wildlife there, before flowing into and poisoning the Danube. The more than one million cubic metres of waste could only be completely neutralized by one million cubic metres of strong acid, an ironic thing to have to pour into a river in an attempt to save it.
COAL – NOWE CZARNOWO, POLAND
COAL – NOWE CZARNOWO, POLAND. Coal combustion produces three kinds of solid waste: fly ash which goes up the chimney, bottom ash which falls to the bottom of the steam boiler furnace, and sludge that accumulates in exhaust scrubbers. Fly ash, one of the main causes of smog, is collected as it leaves the smokestack. Bottom ash, heavy and rock-like, is collected from the grates at the bottom of the furnace. The sludge collected from the scrubbers consists of gypsum laden with accumulated contaminants.
COAL – NEW ROADS, LOUISIANA, USA
COAL – NEW ROADS, LOUISIANA, USA. This coal ash power plant is the 27th worst carbon emitter of USA power plants, one of the 50 worst mercury polluters, and is known to be contaminating the groundwater around it with selenium which is leaching from its ash waste ponds. Coal ash is known to contain a variety of toxins including lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, boron, selenium.
COPPER – RIO TINTO, SPAIN
COPPER – RIO TINTO, SPAIN. Waste at copper mine. Rio Tinto, literally ‘red river’, is one of the oldest and most productive mines in the world. It has produced a wealth of different metals over centuries, and is the home of the international mining company bearing the same name. It is rumored to have been King Solomon’s mine, and the reason the Moors invaded Spain.
OIL – GULF OF MEXICO, USA
OIL – GULF OF MEXICO, USA. Oil collected from BP Deepwater Horizon spill being burned in the Gulf of Mexico. The skimmers that collect the oil often capture marine fauna such as turtles and dolphins that are also burned in this disposal process.
Industrial Scars – The Hidden Costs of Consumption
J Henry Fair