I recently read “Austin’s Least-Loved Landfill May Be Poised to Grow Again
” [News, Jan. 18], and I was disappointed to hear the news. As a new Austin resident and UT student, I’ve loved seeing the different steps both Austin and the university are taking in hopes to better the environment. However, I strongly believe we still need to do more.
Landfills like the one mentioned in the article pose a large threat to the planet and its inhabitants for a variety of reasons, including the harmful gases excreted. It is estimated that around two-thirds of landfill waste is organic matter, which releases methane when it decomposes, creating an effect that can be thought of as a blanket around the planet. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.
Biodiversity is also altered due to tainted water and soil. When it rains, the buried matter dissolves, producing toxic chemicals that leak into nearby water streams. This may not seem like a big deal; however, it affects all living things in the area. If this toxic waste finds its way into an aquifer it can lead to non-potable water, and if it ends up in other water sources that support fisheries, the species residing there might be in danger. This waste also affects surrounding plant life due to contaminated soil.
Climate change, impacts on fisheries, and a significant increase in endangered species have all been directly linked to human behavior. Unfortunately, we’ve progressed our lifestyles at the cost of other species and potentially future generations. Time is running out for us and although global warming isn’t a problem we can fix overnight, we can start with small steps. Making changes in our daily routines along with demanding government action will be highly beneficial for our future.