They look like they belong in a modern art museum.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

But this isn't an oil painting.


The kaleidoscope above is actually "red mud" waste from processing bauxite ore, the world's main source of aluminum.

For years, J Henry Fair, a photographer and activist, has been taking aerial photographs of industrial sites, capturing how humanity affects the numerous interlocking systems that make up our environment.

The images are surprising, thought-provoking, and even a little intense.

In Louisiana, that red mud is channeled to large, shallow pools like this one, where it slowly evaporates and dries out.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

The mud can be highly alkaline and contain elements such as arsenic and mercury. Most of the time, the mud is kept contained, but an industrial accident in 2010 near Budapest, Hungary, sent more than a million cubic meters of toxic waste into the Marcal river.

In Canada, gigantic tanks hold millions of gallons of tar sand oil.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

Once you extract oil sands, you need to "upgrade" it by removing particulate matter. This gigantic tank in Canada, seen from above, stores 400,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil. The inspection catch can be seen in the center.

This tank has rusted and been painted over multiple times, forming a shifting pattern of colors.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

It looks like a close-up of an alien eye.

This is what it looks like when coal ash is diverted from the atmosphere and into water instead.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

Coal provides about 30% of the United States' electricity. Filters and scrubbers can capture the ash and particulate matter produced by burning coal, preventing it from entering the atmosphere. But the pollution has to go somewhere. Much of it ends up in holding ponds instead.

This coal ash holding pond in Pennsylvania is the largest in the United States.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

This pond is in Shippingport. It's a "high hazard" impoundment. If it failed, people could be in danger.

On the other side of the state, fracking fluid is collected in lined pits.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

The fluid includes ground-up rock, lubricants, chemicals, and sometimes radioactive material from the fracked shale layer.

Fair notes that the overspray, seen at the top of the photo, is a regulatory violation. Any fluid that escapes could seep into the local water system.

This ochre-colored pattern is actually from the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

In this photo, light petroleum from the Deepwater Horizon accident lingers just below the ocean surface. Dispersant chemicals eventually broke up the surface spill, sinking it toward the ocean floor.

This is a picture of the tailings of a Swedish iron mine.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

Fine waste material mixes with water and is pumped into impoundments, essentially large ponds or dams.

Finally, this emerald view is actually an impoundment at a pesticide factory.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

Fair's flight services for all these striking images were provided by Lighthawk and Southwings.

These images show a side of our habits we don't often see.

We use the materials produced at these sites every day — aluminum cans, plastics, coal-powered electricity — but we've put great distance between the actual production and the consumer. Yet our effect is still present.

"Once you really know and accept the consequences of something, then you have to make a moral judgment," Fair says. The good news is that if you don't think it's worth it, it's not hard to change.

"We all feel a sense of futility. The questions are so big that we all feel like there's nothing I can do. But in fact, everything adds up. Everything matters," Fair says. It can be as simple as eating chicken instead of beef or buying a different brand of toilet paper.

Fair is turning the project into a book.

Titled "Industrial Scars," it's being published by Papadakis and features a foreword by Bill McKibben of 350.org. You can also find more of Fair's work on his website.

Photo from J Henry Fair, used with permission.

Watch the trailer for the book below:

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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