Rusty cars, discarded clothes and tires are turning the Chilean desert into a ‘backyard of the world’ – Express | CarTailz

Chile: The Atacama Desert produces a “super bloom” in September.

Chile’s Altacama Desert has been described as the “backyard of the world,” with a series of images that vividly illustrate how garbage from around the world is now polluting the delicate ecosystem. The region is one of the driest places on earth, a place where life seems unlikely to thrive.

Lawyer and activist Pauline Silva with some of the discarded clothing (Image: GETTY)

Chile Atacama

Hundreds of tires remain on the sidelines of the Panamerican Highway (Image: GETTY)

However, with its vast salt lakes, it is also a remarkable and unique environment, now devastated by mounds of clothing, cars and tires.

In one picture, lawyer and activist Paulin Silva can be seen amidst a huge pile of discarded clothing, tires and other rubbish.

Another shot shows hundreds of disused and rusting cars stacked on top of each other.

Chile has been a dumping ground for used and unsold clothing from Europe, Asia and the United States for years, with more than 46,000 tons of used clothing dumped there last year.

The material pollutes the ground and is sometimes even set on fire.

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Chile Atacama

Chile: Huge heaps of discarded tires in the Atacama desert (Image: GETTY)

Chile Atacama

Chile: A huge mountain of clothes in the Atacama desert (Image: GETTY)

Chile Atacama

Aerial view of hundreds of abandoned cars at the Alto Hospicio in the Atacama Desert (Image: GETTY)

Ms Silva, 34, who has filed a complaint with the Chilean Environmental Court regarding the situation, explained: “The material is highly flammable. The fires are poisonous.

Meanwhile, Patricio Ferreira, mayor of the desert town of Alto Hospicio, said: “We are no longer just the local backyard, we are the worse backyard in the world.”

He blamed “a lack of global awareness, ethical responsibility and environmental protection,” adding, “We feel let down. We feel like our country has been sacrificed.”

Carmen Serrano, director of non-governmental organization (NGO) Endemic Roots, claimed most people see the Atacama as little more than “bare hills” where they can “extract resources or line their pockets.”

The 100,000-square-kilometer Atacama has been the world’s arid desert for the past eight million years, with rare and in some places unheard-of rain.

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Chile Atacama

Chile: Hundreds of vehicles remain at the Los Verdes municipal landfill in the Atacama Desert (Image: GETTY)

Alto Hospicio

Abandoned cars in Alto Hospicio in the Atacama Desert (Image: GETTY)

Scientists have discovered extreme life forms, microorganisms adapted to an almost waterless world, in the Yungay district of the city of Antofagasta.

NASA considers the area on Earth closest to Mars and is testing its robotic vehicles there.

Despite its seemingly inhospitable terrain, the Atacama is home to hardy lichen, fungus, and algae, as well as dozens of colorful species of wildflowers that bloom every five to seven years.

Pablo Guerrero, a researcher at the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and an expert on desert cacti, said: “It is an ecosystem that is “very fragile because any change or decrease in rainfall and fog patterns has immediate consequences for the species that live there.

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Antofagasta

Scrap tires serve as partitions in the La Negra neighborhood, 20km east of Antofagasta (Image: GETTY)

“There are cactus species that are thought to be extinct due to pollution, climate change and human settlement”.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing this on a large scale, with a systematic deterioration in recent years.”

Chile recently signed a total of 32 water scarcity decrees in seven regions in response to the ongoing drought plaguing the country.

The decrees offer authorities various ways to reduce the impact of the drought and give the Directorate General for Water (DGA) the power to set water abstraction limits for permit holders.

Chile’s mining industry is trying to switch to using desalinated water, as most of the country’s copper production is mined in the Antofagasta drylands, as well as the O’Higgins, Atacama, Valparaiso and Tarapaca regions.

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