Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
These are five books that you might not want to leave lying around your house if you have small kids. They are guaranteed nightmare-makers, anxiety-creators and undesirable-question-raisers. When my son was about 7, I accidentally let it slip that, yes, it was possible for a person to be born with a third leg, that I had seen photographs of such a person. When he asked “Where?” I immediately changed the subject in a way that I’m sure will fester in his unconscious for years to come.
Very Special People: The Struggles, Loves, and Triumphs of Human Oddities by Frederick Drimmer (Amjon Publishers, 1973)
Text plus plenty of photographs of freaks — three-leggers; bearded ladies; 1,000-pound men; people with parasitic twins, i.e., with a little body, or just part of a little body, growing out of their torsos; the grotesquely fat or skeletal; distressingly bendable people; etc.
Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America by Stanley B. Burns, M.D. (Twelvetrees Press, 1990)
A collection of postmortem photographs from 1840 through 1930. Dead men, women and children. Plenty of children. Some have their eyes open. Some are in their beds. Some are just propped up in chairs. Some are only minutes dead. One is 9 days old.
Evidence by Luc Sante (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1992)
Evidentiary photographs taken by the police from 1914 through 1918. Creepy black-and-white pix of people murdered in tenement hallways, in their beds, at the kitchen table and so forth, plus Sante’s notes on each photo.
Special Cases: Natural Anomalies and Historical Monsters by Rosamond Purcell (Chronicle Books, 1997)
Sample chapter title: “Too Much, Not Enough, and in the Wrong Place.” The cover is a nightmare image in itself — a photograph of the skeleton of an impossibly hydrocephalic child whose skull, to quote the author, “has opened up like a flower.”
Elmer Batters: The Caruska Sittings (Taschen, 1996)
Photos by a well-known foot-fetish photographer. Caruska is the goggle-eyed, overweight, eerily smiling German frau who posed, often topless (though that’s completely beside the point), for all of these foot- and spike-heel-shoe-oriented photographs. A bunch of them are set in cheesy ’70s offices or living rooms. If “somebody” found this book, there’d be just too much splainin’ to do.
Roz Chast is a cartoonist for the New Yorker and other magazines. Workman will publish her newest book, "The Mink Was Already Dead! And Other Rationalizations" (a collaboration with Henry Beard, Andy Borowitz and John Boswell) in March.More Roz Chast.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.