For the past year, the waste of the world has been gathering on the shores of south-east Asia. Crates of unwanted rubbish from the west have accumulated in the ports of the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam while vast toxic wastelands of plastics imported from Europe and the US have built up across Malaysia.
When life, in plant form, came from seas to barren lands, mountains and hills were rocky crags and lowland plains were dustbowls, and rates of erosion were more than ten times what they are nowadays. As plants further moved onto land, soils developed, and as geological times passed by, soils and plants more and more crept outwards from the seas and increasingly covered the land surface of our cosmic home, giving it familiar shades of green to its continents. But when plants first invaded the land?
Climate change brought water to the coastal deserts of Peru, letting farms there flourish for decades. But now the rapidly-melting glaciers have shrunk too much — and as the water disappears, the farms it fuels also might, writes Nicholas Casey for the New York Times.