Climate change is caused by deforestation and human activities that release huge amounts of carbon dioxide. However, many people do not realize that solid waste is a part of the loop that contributes to climate change. Climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). Some of these emissions have a direct link to solid waste. The manufacturing, distribution and use of products as well as waste generation result in GHG emissions and affect the Earth’s climate.
The Earth’s atmosphere contains many types of gases which includes GHG. GHGs absorb and retain heat from the sun. They regulate the Earth’s climate by holding heat in an atmospheric blanket around the planet's surface. Scientists call this phenomenon as “Greenhouse Effect”. Without GHGs, the average temperature on Earth would be -2 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 57 degrees Fahrenheit (www.pewclimate.org). However, certain human activities have released additional GHGs, hence upsetting the natural atmospheric balance of GHGs and directly increasing global temperature.
Solid waste affects climate change through landfill methane emission. The main source of manmade methane gas is from landfills. Emission of methane gas happens when organic waste is left to decay anaerobically in landfills which produces methane gas. According to a website source from www.cawrecycles.org, methane gas is 23 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere rather than the common GHG we know that is carbon dioxide.