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Science

Prehistoric Garbage Piles Created "Tree Islands" 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-some-lovely-filth-down-here dept.
sciencehabit writes "Piles of garbage left by humans thousands of years ago may have helped form 'tree islands' in the Florida Everglades--patches of relatively high and dry ground that rise from the wetlands. They stand between 1 and 2 meters higher than the surrounding landscape, can cover 100 acres or more, and host two to three times the number of species living in the surrounding marsh. Besides providing habitat for innumerable birds, the islands offer refuge for animals such as alligators and the Florida panther during flood season. The trash piles—a mix of discarded food, charcoal, shell tools, and broken pottery—would have been slightly higher and drier than the surrounding marsh, offering a foothold for trees, shrubs, and other vegetation."
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Prehistoric Garbage Piles Created "Tree Islands"

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  • Re:Soooo.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:11AM (#35595242) Journal

    To be fair, the historic "garbage" was quite different in composition than the garbage we generate today.

  • This one again. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @02:00AM (#35595642) Homepage Journal

    Apparently; so that was the plan behind the environmentally conscious crowd bullying them into no longer using those easily recyclable styrofoam containers!

    I am afraid that you are totally incorrect in thinking a switch to paper increases the volume of waste.

    There is a persistent myth that the McDonalds foamed polystyrene containers were more recyclable than their current paper packaging. This myth is used by people to try and show the environmental movement is emotional, rather than pragmatic & forward thinking (typically, there is a condescending "ho-ho-ho, those silly environmentalists have made the environment worse by replacing a recyclable product with a non-recyclable product" attitude).

    However, the facts are that:

    1) Food contaminated products are not recycled (most McDs food packaging is unsurprisingly contaminated by food)
    2) Almost no foamed polystyrene is recycled in any case.
    3) Switching to paper reduced McDonald's waste by around 90%

  • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @06:50AM (#35596680)

    When they scuttle a ship, they usually pick an area that's completely devoid of life. Having dived multiple such sites in various stages of their evolution, I can tell you that it's actually a pretty effective way to build an artificial reef. In parts of the carribbean, you can dive down, and see a completely empty and devoid plane of nothing but sand on the floor of the sea, save for a ship rising up out of the mud, which is home to crustaceans, corals, anemones, fish, and other forms of life that just aren't seen anywhere else in the area.

    When a ship sinks by accident, however, they don't have that kind of control.

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @07:11AM (#35596790)

    Without humans having a thing to do with it those islands form all the time. They form to a degree that the state has a machine that goes in and destroys the island. All that happens is that any irregularity that causes a bottom to be slightly shallower in a spot will tend to attract plants which over time build a thicker and thicker mat of cast off materials held in place by the roots of the plants. At a certain point the mat becomes heavy enough to actually press down against the bottom and trees and shrubs flourish making the little islands even more solid.
                  The device that eats these islands looks like a paddle wheel boat with the paddle wheel in the very front of the boat. That wheel beats into the vegetation and pushes it onto a barge like deck. The operator keeps the wheel chopping at the island until the entire island is loaded on the barge. Sadly large nuimbers of bass and other fish as well as snakes and turtles are also loaded onto the barges.

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