This world is not always exactly what it seems. Things that are popular, touted, or just seem awesome or at least incredible may actually be, simply put, quite bad. Bad for you, your mental wellbeing and physical safety, or just not good for the planet. In this list, we profile 10 things we might think are awesome, or at least very cool, but actually bring about some real trouble.
10. Wind Turbines
Wind power. Ah, what could be greener? It’s a better means of environmentally friendly energy compared to coal power, for example, and a means of engineering that is nature-friendly in provision of power to civilization. Or… maybe not. At least, not as far as birds are concerned. Wind turbines are widely touted as green energy advancements, but the gigantic structures are creating problems, causing the deaths of countless birds, ranging from waterfowl and songbirds to eagles, hawks, and falcons.
The enormous metal blades are no Dutch windmills, and if located in migration paths, the results can be especially disastrous. Furthermore, the best places to put the structures with regards to good strong winds may also be bird migration hotspots. A problem indeed, since the green movement sincerely intends to protect wildlife, native birds no less than others. While debate continues on over just how bad wind turbines are for bird populations overall, questions over to how to construct turbines and where to site them to minimize impacts continues to grow as a hot topic that sometimes pits ornithologists, conservationists, and wind power engineers against each other.
9. Space Exploration
Exploring space is an incredible feat of humanity. Travel by humans to the moon — or just into Earth’s orbit — seems pretty incredible. But despite the advancement, space travel has brought a host of messy problems that are literally a load of junk. You know that neighbor with so much rubbish in their yard that their property looks like a dilapidated second hand store that went out of business, combined with a landfill? Well, the bad news is thanks to the penchant for space travel possessed by our species, that messy yard describes Earth. The debris field includes 500,000 thousand big chunks of space junk that are being tracked. The space junk is not only unsightly and unnatural, but it poses a variety of threats.
First of all, space travel is threatened by the junk it creates, with collision damage a growing concern facing any craft approaching, orbiting, or leaving the vicinity of our world. Furthermore, space junk falling to Earth may put aircraft or even people or infrastructure on the ground at risk when the pieces of refuse are large enough to make it through the atmosphere. In 1969 five Japanese sailors were hit by space waste, while an Oklahoma resident, Lottie Williams, suffered shoulder injuries from a piece of metal measuring around 4-by-5 inches that came from a Delta II rocket fuel tank. Over the past 50 years, NASA has documented a piece of debris per day falling to Earth.
8. Becoming a celebrity
Being famous is the dream of many people, right? Well actually, you might want to start feeling sorry for the famous — or at least some of them — and thanking your lucky stars if you are not too famous just yet. In an expanding global culture of celebrity obsession, some of the greatest problems with being a celebrity have overwhelmingly been swept aside. But celebrities are speaking out, and what they have to say is chilling.
Johnny Depp described fame as “living like a fugitive” in one interview, stating the need to use strategies even to move about, whether out of a hotel or restaurant. Lady Gaga put being famous in clear words, likening it to being owned by the public, rather than being free. Daniel Craig, of James Bond stardom, commented on the hassle of being constantly photographed, while Daniel Radcliffe described the danger of succumbing to alcohol use as a means to handle being watched. Dating as a celebrity was scorned as a huge challenge by Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games fame, while George Clooney had some more words to describe the problems. He described fame as the inability “to enjoy simple pleasures,” citing a lack of being able to simply walk in Central Park.
7. Dolphin & Orca Training
Many people dream of working with marine mammals, especially dolphins and Orcas (so-called “Killer Whales” — which are in fact large dolphins, and not whales). Just swimming with dolphins presents a risk of interactions going sideways, while training them in captivity presents risks, especially so with Orcas. First of all, many people have raised ethical concerns over the keeping of cetaceans in captivity, but a number of accidents and injuries involving captive dolphins and either trainers or audience members serves as an important lesson that these animals can inflict real damage.
In the case of human interaction with captive Orcas, 30 cases of injury or death have occurred from the 1970s onward. Trainers have been drowned, struck, bitten, and held by apparently angry or disturbed Orcas, with deaths caused most famously at SeaWorld when trainers were violently attacked. Most of the deaths involve a trainer dying after being seized by a whale, while one trespasser, Daniel Dukes, was found dead at SeaWorld in an Orca tank in 1991, though it could not be proven that his death was from an Orca. The same Orca, Tilikum — with which he was found dead — had killed a trainer previously, and went on to fatally attack trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.
First of all, we aren’t always sure how to pluralize the name of this creature. Is it hippopotamuses or hippopotami? All kidding aside (both are acceptable, by the way), these creatures are not the friendly and happy animals which they are portrayed to be, whether in cartoons, or as stylized creatures outside namesake “Hema” (Chinese for Hippopotamus, translating to River Horse) grocery stores that have sprung up in China in apparent honor of this African mammal. Actually, Hippos are one of the most destructive large animals to affect human society. They disrupt entire communities and actually kill humans who are foolish enough to attempt an interaction with them. So these awesome creatures really suck if its your unlucky day to meet one or, worse, a herd.
Hippos are heavy — males sometimes exceeding 9,000 pounds — but fast, reaching speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. And while they are not horses at all, but relatives of whales, dolphins, and pigs, they are surprisingly agile and have a very bad temper if disturbed. Hippos have enormous canine tusks that put lions to shame and may use them without warning. The giant beasts are primarily plant eaters, but territorial aggression and other human conflict leads to around 3,000 deaths annually in their natural range in Africa, as noted by the African Wildlife Foundation. Thanks to a notorious drug lord with a penchant for exotic animals, Columbia now has over 40 hippos on the loose, descendants of four that got loose.
5. Electric Cars
Electric cars might once have seemed fantastical or just impractical, but the fuel-free vehicle is no pie in the sky. The electric car is here to stay, it turns out. But neither fully electric or hybrid vehicles are the dream come true for the environment that the general public imagines. Batteries that power electric vehicles must come from somewhere, and do not last forever. Making batteries entirely without environmental impact seems far away. Electric car battery manufacturing depends on some scarce elements, while the global demand for cars far exceeds the Earth’s capacity to yield the required materials in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of the auto market with just electric vehicles.
Other problems include increased emissions of fine particles from tire wear due to the heavier build of electric vehicles. In one startling example, sensitive ecosystems that function as oases in Chile’s Atacama Desert have been besieged by electric vehicle driven mining activity. Finally, electric vehicles are so quiet, it is indeed possible to get run over by an electric vehicle simply because you did not hear it coming, especially at slow speeds where tire sound is limited.
We fear Earth-based natural disasters while admiring the night sky with awe, but perhaps insufficient concern. The stars hold danger for Earth, and that is the supernova. Earth is unlikely to be in doomsday danger as things currently stand in our galaxy with regard to supernovas in the making. But research suggests especially strong supernova events could spill large amounts of blue light in Earth’s direction. Bright enough to be visible in the day along with the sun, such a dying star could induce problematic levels of biological disruption of the Earth’s biosphere. Endocrine disruption and sleep problems are among the possible effects of what would be a beautiful, natural, but undeniably harmful event.
Theoretical scenarios of a large supernova event taking place close to the Earth lean toward the more suddenly disastrous. While obvious supernova incidents present a more remote risk to Earth, possible scenarios that are far more chilling include the chance that a merger supernova involving dead stars not visible to astronomers — and thus unknown — colliding and setting off a catastrophic event, blasting the Earth with radiation. All in all, we can simply hope we don’t experience a supernova in our lifetimes, as dying stars are up to no good as far as Earth is concerned.
3. Wide-Area Motion Imagery
A security system on steroids, Wide-Area Motion Imagery, or WAMI, seems like a panacea for crime prevention. Equipped to collect stage by stage footage of entire cities, the technology allows any object of interest or person to be located and then tracked forward or backward through recorded time as their actions progress. Where they went, what they did, when, and why are all offered up by a good WAMI system. A single unit can watch a city and then yield forensic data showing relationships between humans, vehicles, and locations. Almost anything could be found out about anyone, anytime.
Yet, the potential for abuse is simply enormous. If a government or corporation decided to use the information unethically, the damage to privacy, safety, and personal security could be untold. Literally no movement, interaction, or action that was not desired would escape scrutiny, making WAMI perhaps the ultimate police state weapon against civilians.
2. Purebred Pets
Ok. You have paid the high price to the breeder or pet store, you have the papers signed and stamped, and the costs have just begun. Purebred pets are certainly overrated, and once you have paid the high price to acquire your pet, there is more than a small chance that nasty, breed-specific illnesses and defects may crop up, further emptying your bank account. Why? Because purebred pets face a double problem that mixed breed pets may be less likely to bear. First off, purebred pets suffer from increased inbreeding and a generally smaller gene pool. That is a problem on a genetic level.
Secondly, the risk of ailments is dramatically increased in many animal breeds due to the presence of grossly exaggerated physical traits that are not seen in so-called mongrels that might be a lot closer to what nature selected an animal to look like and function as for better adaptation to the real world, compared to someone’s special use plans or imagination of what constitutes animal beauty. If you need an example, look at the beyond bizarre Bubble Eye Goldfish, prone to eye problems and dropsy, or the respiratory problems faced by the English Bulldog. Behavior problems are a nasty situation as well, with certain breeds being prone to outbreaks of difficult temperament development.
1. Jogging & Epic Workouts
Physical exercise is good for you. If being a couch potato is bad for your health and may lead to everything from heart problems to diabetes, then working out as much as possible must be the panacea for lifestyle-related health issues, correct? Not really. Just because it is the opposite of a sedentary lifestyle, being too much of a fitness nut might not help one’s health goals and may actually be worse. Research published in the British health journal Heart stated those who engage in excessive workouts are actually at greater risk of death compared to those who do not exercise very much.
The writers assembled research that included a study from Germany that found runners who participated in marathons on a regular basis actually suffered higher coronary plaque accumulation levels in comparison to the “couch potatoes” included in the study. The plaque created a higher risk of heart disease. Excessive exercise causes the body to become clogged with oxidative by-products of exercise, including free radicals that react with cholesterol, as fat and sugar is burned too aggressively in over-exercisers.