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What’s it look like inside an abandoned power plant? Strangely majestic.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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I’ve spent most of my morning consuming images of abandoned places all over the world: overgrown sections of the Great Wall of China and abandoned theme parks (depressing!) and more. The images look like real life versions of apocalyptic movie sets, like something out of “I Am Legend” but not quite as forlorn as “Wall-E”.

It’s as if our civilization just disappeared one day. The only trace of our existence being how we changed the landscape for our benefit.

Some of the structures like an abandoned coal plant in Belgium are also strangely majestic in a cold and industrial way. In its empty cooling tower I see our technological prowess and ability to harness energy to improve our lives. In its abandoned, mothballed state, it looks like the structure in “Prometheus”; a relic of a technological society that mysteriously vanished.

And I think, what would some future explorers see if they happened upon our planet and came across our power plants and factories? Majesty? Ruin? Pollution? D: all of the above?

Photo credits: Danel Barter Photography


David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Uncle.Al 4:49 pm 12/29/2013

    Outworlders will be amazed by landfills’ styrofoam peanuts. The surface will be rubble after roofs begin to leak. Broadcast Pyroceram and Inconel 686/Hastelloy C-2000 medallions everywhere every decade to mark our existence. Unbothered real estate awaits: Andes, American Southwest, Nunavut, Siberia, Sahara Desert; Antarctica and the frozen chosen South Georgia, South Sandwich, Gough, Bouvet, Prince Edward and Marion, Kerguelen, Heard , Macquarie, Campbell, and Diego Ramírez Islands.

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