Dangerous Places to Live – WIF Travel

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Dangerous Places to Live

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10. The Anomalous Lake Maracaibo In Venezuela

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While there are other lightning activity hotspots in the world, they tend to be more spread out, or only during certain seasons. By far the highest concentration of lightning in one place in the world, goes to the bizarre lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. In this spot, on most nights, you can essentially see lightning flashing over and over again. In the area around the lake, there are roughly 250 lightning flashes per square kilometer a year. During the right time of year, when a storm is really going, you can see up to 28 lightning flashes per minute.

When the lightning flashes are going they can be seen as far as 250 miles away, and some say sailors from long ago used it as a navigational beacon. Interestingly, experts are unsure as to why this particular area is a hotspot for lightning. Some suggested uranium in the bedrock, others suggested wind patterns or other similar ideas. Right now, there isno solid theory to explain what is happening that anyone is willing to stake their reputation on.

9. The Coldest Inhabited Village In The World

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The village of Oymyakon, in Russia, is the coldest known inhabited city in the world, and is easily one of the most extreme environments you can choose to live. The temperature averages -58F during the winter, something most of us cannot even imagine dealing with. When asked how they deal with the cold, the locals responded with typical Russian humor, and credited vodka to their ability to deal with the cold.

Walking outside for a few minutes, even when properly equipped, can cause glasses to become stuck to your face, and cars that are turned off in the cold will not turn back on. Being outside for just a few minutes without the proper gear could quickly lead to frostbite or death, depending on how little gear you have. Indoor plumbing is pretty much nonexistent due to the frozen ground, so people use outhouses. Locals mainly consume raw meat and fish, washed down with liberal amounts of vodka of course.

8. The Colombian Village Where Children Zipline Across A Canyon To Get To School

Some young people will complain about taking the bus to school, and how annoying it can be to sit with the other children. Some parents will half-joke about walking uphill both ways to get to school when they were a small child. However, in some places in the world, getting to school is actually quite a real chore. In some poorer countries, kids walk miles every morning so they can learn, but one small village in Colombia has them all beat.

As seen in the video above, these children are actually ziplining across a canyon every morning so they can get to their school quickly from their village. While it may look kind of fun, the average child or adult would be absolutely terrified, especially at how little safety equipment they are using. It just goes to show that if you truly want something, you will brave almost anything to get it.

7. Honduras, The Murder Capital Of The World

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When most people hear about immigrants coming to the United States to seek shelter, whether they do so illegally, or attempt to seek asylum officially at our borders, they think of people coming from Mexico. However, there are many other South American countries from which people are fleeing to the United States. One of the chief of these is Honduras, often called the murder capital of the world.

Honduras is plagued by the worst kind of gang activity. Those who do have money live in extremely tightly secured houses, with private security, that may as well be fortresses. Most people live in fear, and many people have to join the gangs in some way or simply be killed. Many young people end up killed by gang violence regardless of what choices they make. Hundreds of young people die in the gang wars every year, and less than ten percent of the cases are even investigated at all — the resources simply aren’t there. This allows the murders to continue unabated.

6. Flint, Michigan — Known For Lead Contaminated Water And Sky High Murder Rates

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Flint, Michigan has been in the news recently because of the lead contaminated water. The governor appointed emergency city managers, and the one in Flint forced through a water change to a cheaper source that hadn’t been properly vetted. Even though the governor and the manager were warned by the EPA and others, they did not listen and went ahead. The water was not only contaminated and poor quality, but the change caused corrosion damage to the already old infrastructure, worsening the contamination.

However, this was only the most recent of Flint’s problems. Even before the water crisis, Flint was starting to fall apart in terms of wealth, infrastructure and pretty much everything else. They were once a bustling manufacturing town, but once the industry left, the jobs were gone and most who were stuck there fell into extreme poverty. In recent years Flint has either been the murder capital of the USA, or been in the top three to five. With gang activity ramping up, jobs continuing to disappear and the water problem not going anywhere, Flint may be the most dangerous city in America.

5. Life In A Submarine Is Definitely Not Fun

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Many movies have romanticized submarines, especially classics like The Hunt For Red October. However, in truth submarines are an absolutely wretched place to live in, and those who work in them often do essentially live in them long term. If severely damaged during wartime, submarines may have some survivors, but in many cases it would be the end.

More to the point though, even in times of relative peace, living in a submarine is a terrible prospect. They are incredibly cramped spaces with no view, no fresh air, and no variation in meals. There is nothing to talk about, no up to date television or news and nothing from the surface apart from occasional command updates. Many people start to go insane due to the extreme feeling of isolation and loss of personal space, as everyone has to sleep in tiny communal areas, and no one has their own personal bed except the command staff. While it is unlikely in peacetime for you to die on a submarine, having a bout of temporary insanity is not at all uncommon.

4. Astronauts Always Come Back From Space With Numerous Health Problems

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Being an astronaut and going up into space sounds like an incredibly cool job to have. Some people spend their entire lives aspiring to it and never get there. To even be considered, you have to have a masters degree or higher in a relevant field, have several years of experience, be of near perfect physical fitness, have the right height and weight range, and preferably have military experience, especially if you want to be considered for a command position. If you are interested in being a pilot, you also require a lot of experience flying. Even then, they will only select a handful of people to consider when they are looking for more, and only a few of those people will be trained.

However, the truth is that all of this stringent selection is done because being in space is incredibly taxing on the human body. Just being up for a few months will eat away at the structure of your bones. The general rule of thumb is that for every month in space you are going to need two months to recover your bone density. It can also give returning astronauts serious low blood pressure for some time, and can cause permanent damage to vision due to the strange way low gravity effects pressure on the eyes, among other effects.

3. Working And Living On An Oil Rig Is Incredibly Dangerous

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When people hear about a disaster like Deepwater Horizon, they think of the horrible environmental impact. As the oil continued to flow into the ocean unabated, and it took what felt like way too long to stop it, the loss of life was mostly forgotten in the media. The loss of marine life was talked about, but not much went into the fact that eleven oil rig workers went missing that day and were presumed dead — they were never found.

Working on an oil rig is an incredibly dangerous job, and when safety precautions are ignored — and they have been many times in the past — it is the workers who suffer first. Life isn’t much safer for oil field workers either, and especially in North Dakota’s oil fields, things are not in good shape. The federal authorities are investigating safety standards, after reports that there is roughly one accidental death every six weeks.

2. Any Of The Alleged Cancer Villages That Are Spread All Over The Country Of China

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If you ask the Chinese government, there is no such thing as a cancer village. For the longest time, they even denied the pollution clouds surrounding their major cities, until the international visits during the Olympics made it impossible to deny to the entire world any longer. Anything that may make them look bad, or pressure them to tamp down on industry, is swept under the rug. Unfortunately, this is causing great harm to many Chinese citizens.

All over China, the country is dotted with what some call “cancer villages”. They are so dubbed because within these villages, generally everyone knows a minimum of one person who has serious cancer. These villages are always way too close to industrial plants, and often have strange particles very visible in the air. Even living there for years, the citizens never get used to it. One journalist who risked going to these villages to talk to people found himself coughing up strange brown sediment after being there only a short time — and people were angry about it. Despite the Chinese government’s policy of crackdown against dissent, these people were upset enough that they were willing to speak out about it to outsiders.

1. The Island That Is So Overrun By Snakes Hardly Anyone Dares Set Foot

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The island known as Ilha da Queimada Grande, is owned by Brazil and within close enough distance that it would normally be put to more use. However, the issue is that the island is overrun by golden lancehead vipers, an insanely venomous variety of lancehead only found on this particular island. They evolved with too many other snakes, and too little of their regular prey, forcing them to evolve incredibly strong venom to take out more difficult foes.

This venom can kill a human in under an hour, and that is from just one good bite. Some reports estimate that this island has as many as one snake per square meter. This essentially means that in any given part of the island, you could look in any direction, and see at least one snake a few feet away. Legends say the lighthouse was once manned by a small family, who died when the snakes slipped through the cracks and murdered them. While that particular story is hard to verify, there is an old lighthouse on the island, that is now automated and is maintained once a year by the Brazilian Navy — hopefully they bring flamethrowers when they visit.


Dangerous Places to Live

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– WIF Travel

Fragile China – A WIF Environmental Update

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fragile-china

10 Ways China Is Ruining

Its Own Environment

In recent years it’s come to light that, despite China’s best efforts to the contrary, they have a massive pollution problem. As China finds themselves trying to quickly and cheaply produce goods that meet the consumer demands of the majority of the world, they’ve also found themselves polluting the atmosphere on an unprecedented scale.

While the world is crying out for China to lower their emissions, many aren’t prepared for the lifestyle changes that would be required if the world’s major manufacturing hub decided to greatly lower its output. In the meantime, the Chinese people suffer the consequences, and as the pollution starts to spread around the globe we may all eventually feel the effects.

 

10. Poor Air Quality Is Creating A Tremendous Death Toll

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The air pollution problem often keeps many people indoors, and forces them to wear masks to keep out toxic fumes even on days where total avoidance of the outside isn’t advised. This problem is giving China a black eye on the national stage. Even after the Beijing Olympics, when the problem became more obvious, the true extent of pollution was swept under the rug. China has never offered journalists free reign to poke around, and has long denied any major problems caused by the air pollution.

However, a joint study involving the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning and the World Health Organization found that somewhere between 350,000 to 500,000 Chinese people are “prematurely” dying from lung cancer due to pollution. Unfortunately, there are people who try to hand wave these numbers away. China’s government has tried to keep journalists from even talking about the issue, and they’ve done their best to keep the numbers out of international reports whenever possible. While some would suggest that all the smoking in China is the main cause, the study makes it clear that the number of people dying from lung cancer have continued to rise even as the number of smokers has declined.

9. They Are Burning Petcoke As Fuel

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The United States likes to feel that they’re a much cleaner country than China, and that they’re doing more to deal with the crisis of pollution and renewable energy. However, the situation is more complicated than it seems. The United States and other countries are happy to buy products made using Chinese industry while claiming to take the high road themselves. The United States has put its foot down on certain fuels such as petroleum coke (petcoke). This fossil fuel is a byproduct of the oil refining process and is much, much dirtier than burning actual coal. While America don’t use the fuel, the US exports it to China so America can make some money off this byproduct instead of just letting the dangerous pollutant “go to waste.”

Every year, the amount of petcoke exported to China grows, because it’s an incredibly cheap fuel and China is dealing with the industrial demands of much of the modern world. While it’s cheap, it is hardly sustainable. With carbon emissions already out of control, using a fossil fuel that’s dirtier than coal is going to make an environmental crisis approach even faster. Of course, the rest of the world is partly to blame for selling the stuff in the first place. Sometimes it’s better to think ofprotecting the world from catastrophe than it is to squeeze every last possible cent of profit out of your waste.

8. Record Algae Growth

A boy man lies on a beach

While algae blooms aren’t necessarily dangerous to humans, they’re usually a bad sign for the local ecosystem. Large blooms of algae have been surfacing every year in the Yellow Sea near the Qingdao Province, and the problem seems to be worsening. These huge piles of algae sitting on top of the water create an enormous mess, and in 2013 the local government was tasked with trying to clean up a bloom that was larger than 11,000 square miles.

These algae blooms greatly affect the local marine life, which often simply can’t survive the conditions they’re forced to deal with. The algae tends to block the sun’s rays, and can also greatly change the chemical balance of the water. To make matters worse, the algae can start to cause problems to humans when it decomposes and sends toxic fumes into the atmosphere. When the Olympics were hosted in China, the government had to spend millions and enlist the aid of 10,000 people to clean the algae up enough to allow the games to continue. The damage from that year alone was estimated to cost local seafood farmers roughly 100 million dollars. Part of the problem may be seaweed farmers, who are scraping waste into the water that later turns into algae blooms when the conditions are right. Of course, many experts feel that if industrial pollution wasn’t so bad those conditions wouldn’t be there.

7. They’re Approaching A Water Crisis

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When you think of a country with a serious water crisis, China isn’t what comes to mind. But China is approaching a crisis, even though they would appear to have plenty of water to go around. To begin with, many industrial plants are located near water sources and dump their waste directly into the water, with very little recycling or treatment. Oftentimes sewage isn’t treated properly or at all, and ends up in the same sources of water intended for industry, drinking and bathing. If that wasn’t enough, since the 1960s, 10,000 bodies have been found in water sources.

Apart from pollution, China is also destroying some of their water sources. Due to industry using water without sustainable practices, many of China’s rivers are drying up. Many different ruined rivers and lakes will affect other water sources and make the crisis worse. On top of all that, China has an infrastructure problem when it comes to getting water where it needs to be. Most of China’s people and the agriculture that keeps them fed are located in the north, but the large majority of the country’s natural water is still located in the south. And even if you can get water, you may not want to drink it. Some experts believe that half the drinking water in major cities is unsafe to consume, and groundwater supplies are in a similar state of pollution.

6. They’re Starting To Experience Conditions Similar To A Nuclear Winter

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A nuclear winter is a theoretical scenario that would occur in the aftermath of multiple nuclear bomb detonations. Apart from the dangers of the radiation itself, the ash that accumulates in the air would block the sun’s rays for a period that may last years. This would cause the planet to cool, and would greatly impede photosynthesis. It would be almost impossible to grow crops.

Aside from the radiation, this may soon be a reality in parts of China. As the country’s smog problem worsens, and the government becomes less able to sweep it under the rug, more Chinese scientists are delving into the miasma, and it’s not good news. One scientist concluded that the smog in some areas is already bad enough that itcould be severely impeding photosynthesis. She believes that if the problem isn’t dealt with soon, it could spread to much of the country and put agriculture across China at serious risk.

5. Improperly Designed Garbage Incinerators Are Polluting The Atmosphere

A garbage collector looks for recyclable waste at a garbage dump site in Nanchang

China is struggling to contain the insane amounts of waste the country produces. Landfills are quickly overfilling, leaving them with nothing to do but simply destroy the garbage if they can. In many situations, this has led to a strategy of garbage incineration, with the fumes vented straight into the atmosphere. While this probably doesn’t sound like a great idea even in the best of situations, there are some incinerator plants in China that are having a serious environmental impact. Regulations aren’t well designed and there are a plethora of incinerator facilities that aren’t even close to standard, belching nasty smoke into the air with mercury and every other poison you could imagine. The horrible toxic fumes that spew forth have caused protests by everyone near them, and they’re an obvious threat to everyone’s health for miles.

4. It’s Become The Largest Dumping Ground For E-Waste

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E-waste is an increasingly vexing problem for the world. When old electronics are tossed out they often aren’t properly recycled because it’s too time consuming, unsafe or expensive. In many cases, a venue that recycles old cell phones and computers may just take all that junk and send it to another country to pick over as they please. This is technically illegal, but there’s little deterrent. Using both the guise of donations and straight up smuggling, China has becoming the leading importer of e-waste to the point that 70% of the world’s e-waste is ending up there.

One town called Guiyu has become a hot zone for the stuff, and many entrepreneurs have risen up around mining old electronic garbage for valuable metals and other useful scrap. Unfortunately, this is terrible for their health and the environment. The process often involves burning plastic or using hydrochloric acid, neither of which is good for the user or the atmosphere. To make matters worse, this pollution has also affected the town’s water supply and rice crops. While the local government is trying to stop the flood of e-waste into the town, they face resistance from some residents because it’s the only way they know how to make a living.

3. Pollutants Are Making The Food Supply Unsafe

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It stands to reason that if China’s air and water isn’t doing well, their soil probably isn’t faring much better. The problem with the soil may actually be more serious than any others. While many farmers are worried about the constant pollution levels they’re exposed to, most of the country is worried about the safety of their food supply — a supply they’re increasingly unable to trust.

The soil problem has been one of the most carefully guarded secrets in China. In fact, a few years ago the Chinese government conducted a study of the soil in order to assess environmental concerns. The results have never been released, which led to speculation that they’re worse than anyone could have imagined. To give you some idea, a group of Chinese officials found levels of cadmium beyond what’s recommended as safe in 155 samples of rice. One official commented that eight million acres of Chinese farmland was so poisoned with heavy metal contamination that it should no longer be used to grow crops. The worst part is that it’s almost impossible for Chinese consumers to know whether or not their food is contaminated.

2. Cancer Villages

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Since the late 1990s, international activists and groups in China have been working on the problem of cancer villages. A cancer village is a small town of 100 or so residents that’s extremely close to industrial plants. These plants are constantly producing some of the nastiest pollutants on earth. People from the villages describe it as a nightmare, with chemically tainted water that can’t be purified and clouds of toxic ash floating through the air.

The Chinese government doesn’t want to address or acknowledge the issue, but like the smog the problem has become bad enough that no amount of covering up can hide it. Unfortunately, these villages are unlikely to go away anytime soon. As it turns out, the richer citizens of China don’t like pollution when it affects them, so they’ve been pressuring the government to move industrial plants. The government obliges and moves them near poor villages that lacks the political influence to do anything about it.

1. It Affects The Entire World

The San Gabriel Mountains are seen in the background during cloud cover over the Los Angeles skyline

While it’s important for China to help its own country, the problem affects more than just China. The massive amount of pollution is starting to affect the rest of the world, and the results aren’t pretty. Scientists at Texas A&M University ran climate simulations both with and without China’s current air pollution and found troubling results. According to their simulations, cyclones in the Pacific Ocean are being strengthened by the pollution levels, and there’s an increase in ocean storms in general. If that wasn’t bad enough, tracing the pollutants led to the conclusion that some of it’s reaching the western United States, and much of the pollution levels in those states could be blamed on China.

Fragile China

– A WIF Environmental Update