Environmental Damage: A Man-Made Hell on Earth

The ecological devastation of Kuwait is worse than anyone imagined, but it is not the planetwide catastrophe that some predicted

Dante would have felt right at home in Kuwait, a desert paradise that has suddenly been transformed into an environmental inferno. Across the land hundreds of orange fireballs roar like dragons, blasting sulfurous clouds high into the air. Soot falls like gritty snowflakes, streaking windshields and staining clothes. From the overcast skies drips a greasy black rain, while sheets of gooey oil slap against a polluted shore. Burned-out hulks of twisted metal litter a landscape pockmarked by bomb craters, land mines and shallow graves scraped in the sand.

Seen close up for the first time last week, the ecological damage inflicted...

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