Disturbing report from the BBC: Canada’s oil patch will pale in comparison to this Chinese toxic pond. The Baogang Steel and rare Earth Complex in Inner Mongolia is enclosed by a humongous lake of toxic sludge, and it’s a scene of ruthless environmental destruction. And the worst part is that it became this way as a result of human activity and overpopulation.
Harvesting minerals from the Earth in large quantities has depleted resources substantially and the scene surrounding the plant is enough to make anyone questions human’s collective sanity. Are we here to destroy the planet or to take care of it?
According to Tim Maughan of the BBC, the city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth Complex dominates the horizon. It’s endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky. Expanding into the distance lies an artificial lake that is filled with black, barely liquid and very toxic sludge. Dozens of pipes line the shore, churning out thick, black chemical waste from the refineries that surround the lake. The smell of sulphur and the loud roar of the pipes invade the senses.
Maughan visited Baogang with a group of architects and designers known as the Unknown Fields Division. Their goal: tracing consumer goods from American shelves to their origins in China. China is home to about 95% of the world’s total supply of rare Earth elements, and the Bayan Obo mines near Baotou are home to about 70% of that. The toxic lake at Baotou is a large pond that was created by damming a river and flooding what was once farmland.
Just think of these gadget companies that require hardware upgrades every 6 months or every year, encouraging everyone to continue to upgrade to the latest model. Don’t forget that it all ends up in a place like Baotou and the terrible and horrible toxic lake that it will leave behind.