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Articles About Garbage
These changes will happen at evolution’s grindingly slow pace, but by the time these creatures have gotten used to life in vast ecosystems of garbage, a future researcher will marvel at how readily and how ingeniously these creatures have adapted — and continue to adapt — to their befouled environs.
This week’s entry discusses the myriad mammals that are able to live in a landfill, from small rodents to upper-echelon predators to human beings. But this is a Pyrrhic victory, as they are subject to the same hazards that afflict any creature searching its way through a dump.
Many bird species that call the Rumpke grasslands home: birdsong mixes with the rattle and hum of machinery to create a cyborg symphony that represents the in/organic mix that is the landfill itself.
The smallest layer of life in a landfill — a “robust set” of microscopic bacteria, fungus, yeast, and protozoa — consumes and digests organic materials in garbage, breaking it down like an enormous compost pile and producing huge amounts of methane gas as a byproduct of their activities.
The concentration of man-made goods, harsh chemicals, and organic waste all rotting together makes for an environment that doesn’t — and can’t — exist anywhere in the natural world. And yet the landfill is teeming with life. Landfills, while ostensibly inhospitable, have become a biological niche, a biome based around humanity’s waste.