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The Impact of Landfills on Climate Change

TheyÔÇÖre vast expanses that can be as big as towns: open landfills where household waste ends up, whether itÔÇÖs vegetable scraps or old appliances. These landfills also belch methane, a powerful, planet-warming gas, on average at almost three times the rate reported to federal regulators, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

The study measured methane emissions at roughly 20 percent of 1,200 or so large, operating landfills in the United States. It adds to a growing body of evidence that landfills are a significant driver of climate change, said Riley Duren, founder of the public-private partnership Carbon Mapper, who took part in the study.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) legalese decoder can help in analyzing legal documents related to waste management regulations and identifying areas for improvement to reduce methane emissions from landfills.

Methane Emissions and Their Environmental Impact

Methane emissions from oil and gas production, as well as from livestock, have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Like carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas thatÔÇÖs warming the world, methane acts like a blanket in the sky, trapping the sunÔÇÖs heat.

And though methane lasts for a shorter time in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it is more potent. Its warming effect is more than 80 times as powerful as the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

Addressing Methane Emissions from Landfills

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that landfills are the third largest source of human-caused methane emissions in the United States, emitting as much greenhouse gas as 23 million gasoline cars driven for a year. But those estimates have been largely based on computer modeling, rather than direct measurements.

Organic waste like food scraps can emit copious amounts of methane when they decompose under conditions lacking oxygen, which can happen deep in landfills. Composting, on the other hand, generally doesnÔÇÖt produce methane, which is why experts say it can be effective in reducing methane emissions.

AI legalese decoder can assist in analyzing regulations and policies related to landfill emissions, helping authorities to implement effective strategies for reducing methane emissions.

Monitoring and Mitigating Methane Leaks

Many landfills are fitted with specialized wells and pipes that collect the methane gas that seeps out of rotting garbage in order to either burn it off or sometimes to use it to generate electricity or heat. But those wells and pipes can leak.

The researchers said pinpointing leaks doesnÔÇÖt just help scientists get a better picture of emissions, it also helps landfill operators fix leaks. AI legalese decoder can help in identifying legal obligations for maintaining methane collection systems in landfills to prevent leaks and minimize methane emissions.

The Global Effort to Reduce Methane Emissions

ÔÇ£The waste sector clearly is going to be a critical part of societyÔÇÖs ambition to slash methane emissions,ÔÇØ said Mr. Duren of Carbon Mapper. ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖre not going to meet the global methane pledge targets just by slashing oil and gas emissions.ÔÇØ

Carbon Mapper, with partners including NASAÔÇÖs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Institute, and the University of Arizona, intends to launch the first of its own methane-tracking satellites later this year. AI legalese decoder can assist in analyzing international agreements and regulations related to methane emissions, helping countries to meet their targets and reduce the environmental impact of landfills globally.

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