Landfills A Growing Menace Essay

1461 words - 6 pages

I thought this was an OK essay, it could be worked on though Thesis needs to be strengthenedLandfills- A Growing MenaceWhen asked to think of the largest man made structure, people will invariablycome up with an answer like The Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramids, or the TajMajal. In contrast to these striking achievements of mankind is the Durham Road Landfilloutside San Francisco, which occupies over seventy million cubic feet. It is a sadmonument to the excesses of modern society [Gore 151]. One must think this hugereservoir of garbage must be the largest thing ever produced by human hands then.Unhappily, this is not the case. The Fresh Kills Landfill, located on Staten Island, is thelargest landfill in the world. It sports an elevation of 155 feet, an estimated mass of 100million tons, and a volume of 2.9 billion cubic feet. In total acreage, it is equal to 16,000baseball diamonds [Miller 526]. By the year 2005, when the landfill is projected to close,its elevation will reach 505 feet above sea level, making it the highest point along theEastern Seaboard, from Florida to Maine. At that height, the mound will constitute ahazard to air traffic at Newark airport [Rathje 3-4]. The area now encompassed by theFresh Kills (Kills is from the Dutch word for creek) Landfill was originally a tidal marsh.In 1948, New York City planner Robert Moses developed a highly praised project todeposit municipal garbage in the swamp until the level of the land was above sea level. Astudy of the area predicted the marsh would be filled by the year 1968. He then planned todevelop the area, building houses and attracting light industry over the landfill. The FreshKills Landfill was originally meant to be a conservation project that would benefit theenvironment. The mayor of New York City issued a report titled 'The Fresh KillsLandfill Project' in 1951 which stated, in part, that the project 'cannot fail to affectconstructively a wide area around it.' The report ended by stating, 'It is at once practicaland idealistic' [Rathje 4]. One must appreciate the irony in the fact that Robert Moses wasconsidered a leading conservationist in his time. His major accomplishments includebuilding asphalt parking lots throughout the New York Metro area, paved roads in andout of city parks, and the development of Jones Beach, now the most polluted andovercrowded piece of shoreline in the Northeast United States. In Stewart Udall's bookThe Quiet Crisis, the former Secretary of the Interior praises Moses. The JFK cabinetmember calls the Jones Beach development 'an imaginative solution ... (the) supremeanswer to the ever-present problems of overcrowding' [Udall 163-4]. JFK's introductionto the book provides this foreboding passage: 'Each generation must deal anew with theraiders, with the scramble to use public resources for private profit, and with the tendencyto prefer short-run profits to long-run necessities. The crisis may be quiet, but it is urgent'[Udall xii]. It is these long...

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