6 Awesome-Looking Things That Are Destroying The World
If the world's hippie scientists are to be believed, our planet is slowly turning into an orb of feces and ruination. For the past century or so, our industrial growth has sprinted ahead like a hellhound with magma diarrhea, incinerating the natural realm in its wake, all in the dog-fart-scented name of progress. And if the world's corporate doomlords are to be believed, we're going to have to burn further resources to get out of our current situation -- not unlike how fire departments sometimes fight grease fires with geysers of bacon fat.
And which of humanity's earthly pursuits are the most pointlessly destructive of all? Here are some of the worst ways we're trashing the environment for purely aesthetic reasons.
Part of the fun of wrapping presents is the inherent surprise of the gift inside, even if it's clearly barking or meowing. "Presents = surprise!" is so ingrained in our reptile psyches that people apologize for not wrapping gifts.
"I know, I'm a heartless bastard. I'm so sorry. I'll leave him under the bridge first thing tomorrow morning, honest."
As it turns out, pretty much everyone who's ever wrapped a present probably owes Mama Earth an apology. One estimate has suggested we spend about $2.6 billion annually on wrapping paper, which is probably enough to make Jurassic Park a reality if we put our minds to it. A solid half of the 85 million tons of paper products Americans use in a year is solely for packaging. Wrapping paper and paper bags account for about four million tons of the trash we toss out, which is the approximate weight of several herds of apatosauruses.
"Litter doesn't count on your Naughty List rankings, honey. He's Santa, not the Lorax."
So yeah, four million tons of innocent wood gets transformed from its natural loggy state into garbage, with nary a step in between. Worse, you can't even try to make the wrapping paper useful. Want to burn it for warmth or maybe to roast a marshmallow over an open fire? Good luck, because most of today's paper is made in places like China, where magical ingredients like lead, plastic, chlorine, foil and synthetic inks -- which burn in delightfully carcinogenic colors -- are silently conspiring to limit the number of future birthday presents you'll be able to receive.
Not Painting Everything White
When Michael Jackson serenaded us with the idea that black and white didn't matter, he must not have been aware of the effect of color on energy efficiency. Color can make a world of difference there.
Or in his case, no color whatsoever.
Researchers who must have had a fun time with their grant application process took a black car and a silver car, then left them in a parking lot in the Sacramento heat for one hour. At the end of the allotted time, the silver car had an internal air temperature about 9-11 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the black car. This may seem like a no-brainer, but when a driver has to spend extra time and energy running the air conditioning to cool down his dark-colored car, the difference adds up to the tune of about a two percent increase in fuel economy. If every car out there joined the automotive Aryan Brotherhood, we'd see a drastic lowering of carbon emissions.
The baby in the silver car was much more comfortable than the baby in the black one.
This paint thing works everywhere, too -- not just with cars. Painting the roof of your house white can mean saving around 20 percent on air conditioning costs, and the only downside would be the potential of looking at a dirty roof. You never really appreciate how many birds crap on your house until your roof is covered in white shingles.
Beaches are kind of like the off-Broadway shows of nature -- they're often very beautiful, but they're also a little gross, and you probably only went because someone else suggested it. Many people's fondest memories of the beach include picking up shells and tiny bits of ocean-polished glass while listening to their parents pretend that nothing's wrong.
But a study that took over 30 years to fully complete suggests that tourism is destroying the ecology of beaches, and it's mostly thanks to shells. Visitors grabbing the odd shell here and there, combined with beach patrols using grating vehicles to make the sands look pretty, have resulted in major change to the ecosystems found along a beach.
Because what's a post-apocalyptic wasteland without beautiful bathrooms to hide from the zombies in?
On Llarga Beach in Spain, where the study was conducted, the abundance of shells decreased 60 percent as tourism increased 300 percent in the area. Why does that even matter? Along with probably a proportional increase in urine in the ocean, shells play a role in beach erosion, offer shelter for numerous fish and other ocean life, and are even used in bird nests. Fewer shells means fewer of everything that needs them. All because Uncle Charlie wants to bring home a goddamn clam corpse that's going to sit on a shelf and collect dust until Uncle Charlie himself is dead.
Windows (Yes, Fucking Windows)
Here's the thing about windows: They're huge energyholics. A window is effectively a giant see-through hole in your wall that (barely) stops drifters and badgers from entering your home. That pane of glass can't do much else, though. It certainly does nothing to maintain the temperature in your home on hot summer days or cold winter ones. Approximately 30 percent of the energy used to heat or cool your house flies right out the window like a dog who just saw a squirrel.
"Keep burying those nuts. One day, I'm going to bury you."
Is there a solution to the waste issue? Of course! You could start by living in a dark box and slowly morphing into Gollum. If that doesn't tickle your fancy, there are also "smart windows," which can save more than one percent of the nation's annual energy consumption. How much is one percent? It's the Donald Trump of energy waste: $10 billion.
Yes, something exists that's as big a waste of energy as Trump himself.
What makes a window smart? Basically, two panes of glass are connected in the center with an adhesive. The goo inside turns cloudy when hit by bright light, which reduces the light and heat you take into your house during the summer. The difference is actually fairly substantial, and you're still protected from the drifter-badger axis that is plotting against you every day.
The instant mood lighting is merely an added benefit.
Slightly Irregular Food At The Grocery Store
Most people, when looking at a banana display (bear with us), are going to pick their bananas based on a weird fruit-based body-shaming method we've all grown up with. Forget about all of the slightly misshapen bananas; those are staying behind. Chef Jamie Oliver is trying to help this issue by convincing people that it's okay to eat dick-shaped potatoes, but he's only one man. We all need to help.
They all wind up as perfectly-shaped turds at the end.
Meanwhile, the bananas that are still a little green are more likely to get picked than the ones that are already mostly yellow. Nobody wants a banana that's been sitting out for a while. It's an investment. As it happens, that yellow banana is not overripe, and we all know it -- it's perfectly, edibly ripe. But we don't want ripe bananas -- we want underripe bananas so they can ripen in our homes. So what happens to the bananas that ripen fully in stores? They go to the dump!
Supermarkets and restaurants account for more than 400 million pounds of food produced every year, and nearly a third of that food is never even eaten. Shoppers want to go into a store and see displays packed to the brim with ripe, pristine food. Anything that gets too ripe, spotty, bruised, or old-looking has to be swapped out, because it's what the consumer wants.
Your favorite produce section and your local kill shelter are essentially the exact same thing.
The result is that 10 percent of the American food supply goes from the farm to the landfill, with a small vacation at the store in the middle, and another 20 percent gets wasted at home when you let those bananas sit until they turn as black as your avaricious soul. All told, that's $160 billion worth of food we're shitting on that could be better used doing anything at all -- especially helping out the estimated one in seven homes that can't find enough food to eat.
Lawns Are The Goddamn Worst
During World War II, soldiers were dying from so many bug-transmitted diseases, like typhus and malaria, that the military began to issue powdered DDT, which more or less worked exactly as it was supposed to. The problem was that nobody realized how much residual cancer and environmental damage it would cause.
They thought it was the latest and greatest all-purpose seasoning.
These newly-returned heroes, however, now realized that they could enjoy a pleasant suburban lawn totally bug-free thanks to DDT, and lawns began to pop up at unprecedented rates. Thanks to our newfound love of soft, cushy Kentucky Bluegrass, we started heavily using water for outdoor purposes. The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water a day, 30 percent of which goes outside, and most of that is used for lawn watering. Across the country, landscape irrigation accounts for nine billion gallons per day. You could remake Waterworld like five times over with that much liquid.
Your lawn might even appreciate the purified piss as a new taste sensation.
In drier parts of the country, outdoor water uses climbs as high as 60 percent, and as you may have heard, this isn't a brilliant plan in places like California, where there just isn't water anymore. This is made even worse when you figure that 50 percent of that water is pure waste, thanks to evaporation, wind, and runoff. The solution to that, of course, is people like David Bartlett, who runs a company called Xtreme Green Grass that will come and paint your dead fire hazard of a lawn so that you can still pretend your property is verdant and healthy instead of a ghoulishly gussied-up pile of tumbleweed.
And the way we're going, they'll have an entire globe's worth of business soon enough.
Be sure to check out 5 Ways People Are Trying To Save The World (That Don't Work) and 6 Terrible Ideas That Science Says Will Save The Planet.
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