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30 Heartbreaking Photos of Pollution That Will Leave You Furious

30. China’s Industrial Epidemic

Image: All That Is Interesting

This horrific photograph reveals the daily life of Chinese citizens who must live under the constant barrage of industrial pollution. Blanketed in thick layers of smog day in and day out, it’s a sad state of affairs that China of all places is now one of the leaders in the Paris Climate Accord, especially when they contribute the most to carbon emissions.


29. India’s Water Problem

Image: EcoWatch

Groundwater in India is contaminated by the many industrial factories within the country, but even worse, pollution continues to be an issue. This child is swimming through one of the many polluted rivers in the country. A heartbreaking image that portrays the everyday struggles of the country and the people who live there.

28. Lake Taihu’s Dilemma

Image: Pollution Image

Another sad and maddening image from China, Lake Taihu has become the victim of toxic run off that has destroyed the lake and its entire ecosystem. The water, which has turned into a sickly green sludge, can no longer support life.

27. Fossil Fuel Death

Image: SlipTalk

This is just one example of what oil spills can do when we drill for fossil fuel. You wouldn’t believe it, but there is actually a pelican under there. A sad state of affairs, indeed. How can we continue to destroy our planet like this?

26. Plastic Wars

Image: Petition Site

These two swans are fighting over a piece of plastic that was dumped in their pond. Sadly, this won’t end well for one of them. Plastic can be deadly for birds once ingested because it can’t move through the digestive track and the bird will eventually starve to death.

25. Rings of Death

Image: Youtube

Plastic soda can rings are one of the leading causes of death for animals. These rings can get caught around their necks and abdomens, eventually causing deformities or reducing their oxygen supply.

24. Mass Produced Meat Saga

Image: NPR

Did you know mass produced meat creates deadly phosphorus? Phosphorus is then leaked into our lakes, rivers and eventually dumped into our oceans, and you guessed it, the fish die because of it. As more fish die off due to the excess amount of phosphorus, you have to wonder when the world will realize that meat production is harming our planet!

23. One Planet Only

Image: Green Living

A photograph like this shouldn’t exist. We only have one planet to live on and as human beings we continue to destroy it with our waste. Will we ever learn to protect it?

22. The U.S. River Crisis

Image: The Atlantic

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over half of the rivers and streams in the United States can’t support aquatic life. A trend line that is taking our country in the wrong direction. The report found that 55% of the nation’s water supply is in poor condition thanks to phosphorus and nitrogen pollution.

21. The Colorado River

Image: Natural News

This photograph of the Colorado River reveals the effects of pollution exposure. According to the EPA, illegal science labs dumped lead, arsenic and cadmium into the river, resulting in this color. Horrible, right?

20. Pollution Pumped into Rivers

Image: TeS

Thousands of gallons of sewage and chemical run off is pumped into the rivers of India on a daily basis. This image is just one of many that reveals the crisis our planet is currently facing. Will you step up to help the cause?

19. Carbon Emissions are Rising

Image: NUS Blog

While countries across the globe continue to pledge to reduce their carbon emissions, we still are dealing with its effects. Global warming continues to be an issue, since factories continue to pump out toxic gas into our ozone.

18. 1,000 Unnecessary Deaths

Image: Conserve Energy Future

Over 1,000 children die in India every year due to the horrific levels of water pollution which cause disease and high risk for bacterial infections. Do our world’s children need to suffer like this? It’s time to make a change and soon.

17. Garbage Galore

Image: Wall Street Journal

Many third world countries are plagued with mounds of garbage. This heartbreaking photo shows a man sifting through a trash heap in New Delhi, hoping to find food or something he can sell for money.

16. A Tragic State of Affairs

Image: Plastic Pollution Coalition

It seems almost impossible to imagine our planet’s beaches looking like this, but due to the lack of recycling and litter, slowly but surely our planet is dying. Covered by heaps of plastic, glass and other waste, we are killing the planet with our recklessness. Do you really want to leave this for our future generation?

15. Deformed Turtle

Image: One Green Planet

Did you know that the daily trash produced by humans has a huge impact on our wildlife? From plastic to Styrofoam, animals will get stuck in or eat our waste, which ends with a heartbreaking photo like this one. The average person generates 4.31 pounds of trash each and every day, and our planet suffers for it. This turtle most likely swam through this plastic ring when it was younger, becoming trapped with no way out. As the years went on it grew around the ring, leaving it deformed and vulnerable to predators.

14. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Image: Tiempos Mafufos

Known for being twice the size of the state of Texas, the Great Pacific Garbage patch is a collection of trash that over time locked together into one giant floating mass of disgusting. It’s a sad sight to see, and the thought of sea life having to swim through it is simply devastating. As humans, we must do better if we want our planet to have a future.

13. Death by Plastic


According to recent statistics, out of the 5 trillion pieces of garbage that is in our world’s oceans, 90% of it is plastic. This plastic is then ingested by fish, which are then eaten by birds such as this albatross. As you can see, he ingested more plastic than his body could process, eventually leading him to starve to death.

12. Surf’s Up: Trash Style

Image: Surfer Magazine

This snapshot is a disturbing representation of how humans are destroying our planet one piece of trash at a time. This photo is of a trash-filled wave off the coast of Java, Indonesia, one of the most populated islands in the world. So much for paradise, right?

11. A Seal’s Doomed Fate

Image: Earth Porm

This baby seal most likely was attracted to the leftovers in this container, which unfortunately ended with his snout becoming stuck. If no one had been around to rescue this poor pup, he would eventually have died from starvation or suffocation, a horrible way to go regardless.

10. Trash Money

Image: Daily Mail

Imagine searching through pollution as a way to earn money for your family? This child uses his mornings swimming through a sea of pollution along the coast, hoping to find something his family can sell for 35 cents per kilo. It’s a heartbreaking glimpse of what our waste is doing to the world and the people who live in it.

9. The Bald Bear

Image: 1 Million Women

This photo went viral a couple years ago when people claimed it was a new species (or alien) that was captured on camera. Sadly, this was a Sunbear who had lost all of its fur and was dying of starvation due to local deforestation. Deforestation is a huge threat to the planet’s wildlife and ends with heart-wrenching scenes like this one.

8. The Plastic Stork Poncho

Image: Anthroblogia

As we’ve mentioned before, plastic is the number one culprit when it comes to polluting the oceans and this poor stork now has a permanent poncho because someone was too lazy to walk to a trash can. While he may stay dry during the rain, not only does this bag prohibit the bird from flying, but the bird could also suffocate as well.

7. Hong Kong Desperation

Image: Daily Mail

China is considered to be one of the pollution capitals of the world, especially the city of Hong Kong where smog forces its citizens indoors on some days. The pollution is so bad in the city, they actually have constructed a fake skyline that tourists can take picture in front of in order to paint the city in a better light.

6. Please Recycle

Image: The Nation

While recycling may seem like a waste of time, it’s scenes like this that offer the realization of why it is so important. This is actually a river of trash in the Philippines that was created due to a lack of recycling. No child should be forced to live in such squalor, but unfortunately this is an everyday norm for some countries.

5. The River Wild

Image: South and East Asia

This photo shows the harsh truth about the Yangtze River in China, where thousands of gallons of toxic sludge is pumped into the river on a daily basis. Not only does this disrupt the wildlife living in the river, but it can contaminate potential food sources as well. It’s a sad reality for China, which is swiftly turning into one of the most polluted countries in the world.

4. Tortoise Slimmer

Image: Skeptics Stack Exchange

Here is another photo of an animal suffering thanks of human negligence. This poor tortoise ended up stuck in a plastic ring from a can when it was young. As the tortoise grew, his body adapted to the ring, leaving the animal deformed. Not only is the animal’s quality of life compromised, but he also can’t defend himself from potential predators.

3. Plastic Bags are BAD

Image: Ban the Bag

Many states in through the U.S. are beginning to ban plastic bags in an effort to save the environment. When you look at a photo like this, you can see why. Please, use reusable bags and help save our oceans! We should all be looking to California, which continues to be a pioneer for recycling and ending pollution.

2. No Swimming

Image: Realities of Littering

Sorry, this isn’t a scene out of a horror movie, it’s actually real life. A sad state of affairs, right? Trash is literally taking over our forests and all bodies of water. You know it’s a serious issue when national parks are beginning to fall into a polluted mess.

1. Fish Death in Brazil

Image: CNN

Brazil’s waterways are some of the most polluted in South America. Not only are toxic chemicals pumped into the oceans and rivers, but wildlife such as fish simply can’t survive in the highly toxic environment. This photo is simply devastating and is an everyday norm for people living in Brazil. We suggest avoiding the if you’re ever dining in the country.