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I Have Good News and Bad News

09/16/2011

Which would you like first?

The good news? You must be one of those dessert-first types, eh?

Image credit: triplepundit.com

The good news is that the world’s first project aimed at reusing the entire contents of a landfill is now in the making. Group Machiels, a Belgian waste management company, plans to process all the garbage in the Remo Milieubeheer landfill, which is 50 miles east of Brussels.

Their 20-year plan will involve recycling around 45% of the landfill’s contents and converting the rest to electricity. Afterward, nature will be allowed to reoccupy the site.

The initiative promises to be extremely profitable, and will also reduce methane emissions, which are more damaging than carbon emissions. Hopefully these benefits inspire companies around the world to follow suit.

The bad news is that ocean acidification is wreaking havoc on ocean wildlife, and only promises to get much worse.

h/t Climate Progress

Earth’s oceans hold 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere. In 2007, oyster larvae in Pacific ocean hatcheries died by the millions–a phenomenon directly linked to ocean acidification. The upwelling of acidic water that killed them held CO2 that the ocean absorbed 30 to 50 years ago. Scientists have found that such upwelling acts on a 30-50 year delay–that is, the carbon being released now reflects the amount of carbon that was in the atmosphere around the 1970s.

This is a pretty grim revelation when you consider that during the last 50 years, the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere has risen 25%. It means acidification only promises to get much worse. Burke Hales, a scientist involved in this research, put it this way: “We’ve mailed a package to ourselves…and it’s hard to call of delivery.”

The organisms least able to survive higher levels of acidity form the base of the ocean’s ecosystem. And if ocean life dies out, land life will not be long in following.

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