“Silver Lake Operations #16,” Lake Lefroy, Western Australia, 2007.

Edward Burtynsky finds the eerie beauty in the man-made landscapes that dot our Earth’s surface. As a photographer who focuses on the relationship between humans and nature, he travels to the hidden corners of the Earth to document the way people are ravaging our planet. Below, 13 of his haunting images of altered nature. All images shown courtesy of the photographer.


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  1. disturbing… but great photography

  2. impressive distruction…

  3. Remember that sensational History Channel special, “Life After People”?

    It speculated that assuming every human on the planet disappeared overnight, 15,000 years from now, the only recognizable remnants of civilization would be things wrought from the most durable materials like Mount Rushmore and the Hoover dam. It was a rather bittersweet ending, but it left viewers on a high note knowing that at least what we leave behind would speak to our accomplishment.

    After paging through the unholy majesty of Burtynsky’s photos, I realize there are other, rather ignoble things that are just as durable and certainly more telling of how we lived.

    In the way archaeologists comb ancient middens for glimpses into the everyday of the past, it shall be the hand-hewn fissures that blister the landscape, traces of rivers that ran heavy with metals, and the entombed remains of radioactive fuel that will speak volumes of our hunger, our passions, and our drive for eons.

  4. Sickens me to see the actual damage we do to our planet. I knew it was bad but to see just the little bit of photos provided that show such horrific damage done is sad to see. We do things and never think twice as to if it’s harming out Enviroment. We’re to busy living fast and in the moment and never for the future or thinking of the consequences of our actions.. I wish and hope that one day we all as humans start thinking about the consequences and what we’re actually doing to OUR planet. Cause it’s harming us. Maybe not much now, or not much that we can see but it will effect us tremendously in the future.

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About Liz Jacobs

Liz Jacobs is an editorial staffer for TED.com.




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