Tag Archives | Geography

Lake Karachay: The Most Toxic Place On Earth

Basement Geographer on a lake in the Russian mountains which may be the single most concentrated spot of environmental desecration:

Imagine a lake so polluted and contaminated that spending just an hour on its shores would result in certain death, and the only way seen fit to deal with it is to fill the entire water body with concrete blocks to keep the toxic soil underneath from moving onshore. That lake is Lake Karachay in Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast, and it is considered by many to be the most polluted place on the planet.

Lake Karachay lies within the Mayak Production Association, one of Russia’s largest and oldest nuclear facilities and a major source of plutonium during the Soviet era. Built immediately following World War II, Mayak has been the site of numerous nuclear-related accidents throughout its history, some approaching the size of the Chernobyl meltdown but far more concentrated.

Statistics reveal that by the 1990s, there had been a 21% increase in the incidences of cancer, a 25% increase in birth defects, a 41% increase in leukaemia, and a rendering of 50% of the population of child bearing age sterile in the Mayak region.

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Creating A Habitable Island Made Of Garbage In The Pacific Ocean

Is this the solution to our waste problems? A research team at the University College London is working towards the creation of a Plastic Republic by 2030 in the North Pacific, and funding the project by selling off parcels of land on the future island:
We intend to engineer enhanced adhesive properties in Escherichia coli and marine bacteria to alter the composition and dynamics of resultant biofilms for the adhesion of micro-plastic pollutants, with an extended vision of creating mass aggregates, or ‘Plastic Islands’. After months of planning, we are now rallying to construct a ‘plastic island’ using the principles of synthetic biology. In so doing we hope to provide a solution to one of the world’s major environmental problems – the North Pacific Garbage Patch.
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A Continent Made Of Plastics

Taken from a 1940 issue of Fortune, a rendering of a map of an imaginary future continent, ‘Synthetica’, composed of synthetic materials and plastic debris. This is our magical future. Via Strange Maps:

“On this broad but synthetic continent of plastics, the countries march right out of the natural world – that wild area of firs and rubber plantations, upper left – into the illimitable world of the molecule. It’s a world boxed only by the cardinal points of the chemical compass – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen. Rayon is a plastic island off the Cellulose coast, with a glittering night life.”

plastic

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Where In The World Do Exiled Leaders Flee?

France (where your neighbors don’t care about your personal vices), sunny Mexico, and despot-friendly Saudi Arabia are top destinations for fallen leaders on the lam. The most notable ex-dictator to live out their days in the United States was Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, who along with his cronies was given safe haven in Hawaii by Ronald Reagan. Created by GOOD Magazine, click through for full map and details:

With Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak now deposed and Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi struggling to hold on to his own seat, we wonder where former exiled leaders slip away to after being ousted.

transparency2

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Rent Your Own Country: Liechtenstein Available At $70,000 Per Night

At least when people say that our government is for sale, it’s meant metaphorically. Wired UK writes:

For a cool $70,000 a night (for a minimum of two nights), you can hire the tiny country of Liechtenstein, which measures around 61.7 square miles and has just 35,000 inhabitants. According to the profile on Airbnb, Liechtenstein can accommodate between 450 and 900 people, has 500+ bedrooms and 500+ bathrooms. The cancellation policy is classified as “Super Strict”.

[This] follows last year’s attempt by Snoop Dogg to rent Liechtenstein to shoot a music video. He was rebuffed because his management did not give enough prior warning.

Leichtenstein

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Google Maps Error Causes Nicaraguan Invasion

The disputed border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, shown on Google Maps.

Good job Google. Even better job Nicaraguan military commander Eden Pastora. Via Time’s News Feed:

A border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica was off by 3,000 meters on Google Maps. This sparked Nicaraguan military commander Eden Pastora to invade Costa Rica and order troops to take down Costa Rican flags in a disputed territory.

A Google spokesperson said the source of the error was unknown, but two entire countries have felt its effects.

We can’t really blame Google for this snafu; we can only blame Pastora for using Google Maps for military business. Official maps for both countries say the land in question belongs to Costa Rica. And, Fast Company reports, Bing had the border correct. Score one for Microsoft, the true victors in this battle.

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