6 Dazzling Sights in Nature (Caused by Human Stupidity)

#3. Literal Mountains of Shit

Ed Andrieski, The Associated Press 

See this huge range of massive mounds behind the cows?

Nati Harnik/AP

That's poop. All of it.

The U.S. beef industry is the largest in the world, but because of that it's also the world's largest cow-shit producer. Most people realize that cows poop and that the meat industry is raising a lot of these delicious crap machines. What almost all of us actively forget, however, is how much poop just one cow is able to produce, let alone the gazillions we turn into value meals every year. The end result is measured in very literal metric shit tons.

Stanley Howe
Poop. All poop.

It's estimated that just 3,500 cows can produce 40,000 tons of crap each year, which is on par with the amount produced by a small city. Keep in mind, though, that most feedlot operations are much, much bigger than that. The cattle feedlots outside Greeley, Colorado, alone can hold tens of thousands of cows and produce more poopy waste than the cities of Denver, Boston, Atlanta, and St. Louis combined. So they just go "fuck it," and pile the shit up. Occasionally the piles burst into flame, too -- the methane is very combustible, and one shit fire at a feedlot near Milford, Nebraska, burned for months before firefighters could extinguish it.

And because man-made burning cow poop mountains aren't terrifying enough, there's also the slight matter of rain. Since the piles are kept out in the open, rainwater turns their runoff into a vast diarrhea flow that has to be diverted into specially constructed areas called "lagoons."

Keith Myers/Kansas City Star
Pooooooooooooop.

#2. Bright Blue Bee Hives

Vincent Kessler/Reuters

So ... is this some kind of stained-glass thing we found on Etsy? Or maybe those are blue marbles stuck into a honeycomb, as part of somebody's art project?

Nope and nope! That is honey, produced by bees in exactly the same way honey is normally produced. It's what they use for making said honey that's causing the freaky colors. In 2012, beekeepers in Northern France went to check on their hives and discovered something truly terrifying (well, more terrifying than the giant, wriggling horror-mass of bees that is their daily life). In addition to the typical amber-colored honey, the bees were gleefully making red, green, purple, and even blue honey. Like so:

Vincent Kessler/Reuters
Possibly some sort of pride thing.

After immediately surrendering to the bees, French health inspectors launched an investigation into the cause of this mystery. Were the bees some new strain of mutant X-bees? Or maybe the queen bee just decided she wanted a change in decor?

The answer was even stranger: The bees had skipped the whole "pollen from flowers" thing in the honey-making process and collected surplus M&M shells from a nearby factory instead. Worker bees normally go to great lengths to collect pollen, but sometimes they find alternatives that are closer to home. In this case, the bees had located a plant that was processing waste from a candy factory that produced M&M's. The waste, specifically the colored candy shells, was kept outside in open containers, which the bees promptly started stealing and incorporating into their honey.

Vincent Kessler/Reuters
Thankfully, the surrounding areas did not contain any Sriracha factories.

Sadly, the world will never find out how "naturally" produced M&Ms taste like, as the presumably additive-ridden honey was immediately labeled unfit for human consumption. Farmers had to get rid of their entire stock, putting the country's already-struggling honey industry in even more jeopardy. That is despite the fact that approximately 90 percent of the people reading this just want to know what it tastes like.

#1. Toxic Aerial Landscapes That Rival Impressionist Paintings

J. Henry Fair

Photographer J. Henry Fair specializes in taking aerial shots of regions that are heavily impacted by industrial pollution. He publishes them in his exhibit Industrial Scars. They're horrible, but they're also 10 kinds of badass. Just look at it! All of the images are beautiful in ways that only exotic chemicals can be.

The image above is "the effluvia from aluminum production as it spreads across Earth and sea, staining and changing the ecology of everything in its path," as the linked Atlantic article describes. On the bright side, it looks like a bowl of melted Skittles.

Here's a shot that, if you squint, seems like it's capturing the emerald glory of an open grassy field ...

J. Henry Fair
"It's beautiful! Wait, why are my lungs growing hands?"

... and then you realize you're looking at the runoff from an herbicide manufacturing factory. Yep, all those sweet shapes are actually deadly poison that's killing the environment. Let's take our mind away from that with this metal as shit lava landscape:

J. Henry Fair
"AWESOME! But now my lung hands have psoriasis ..."

... that's actually a few tons of toxic, yet currently non-regulated waste flowing from a coal power plant. Still, if you don't mind risking death by toxic metal fumes, at least you can use it as a backdrop for your YouTube re-creation of the volcano lightsaber fight from Revenge of the Sith.


Kel's greatest goal in life is to find a black guy named Kenan and become best friends with him. Follow him on Twitter.

Related Reading: Unfortunately, not all of our wonton destruction results in beauty. Sometimes it creates a killer wave of molasses. But how much does it matter anyway? We don't need nature when we're making lightning out of lasers and dooming ourselves by creating Terminators..

If you're any kind of human, you want to know what naturally flavored M&M's taste like. Click the Facebook share button below, and together we can demand answers.

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