The Energy Department just metaphorically smashed all of our beloved Halloween pumpkins by pointing out out that they're contributing to climate change in a pretty significant way.
According to their website, 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced in the U.S. every year, and after Halloween, our poor little wilted, rotting jack-o-lanterns add more than 253 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) to landfills.
MSW, in turn, decomposes and eventually turns into methane, which the Energy Department describes as "a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide."
Thankfully, the Energy Department has a plan: They've partnered with several bioenergy companies to figure out how to use waste, like the kind that comes from discarded Halloween pumpkins, to produce military-grade biofuel that can replace traditional petroleum-derived jet and diesel fuel. In other words, they're not only trying to figure out how to curb greenhouse emissions from pumpkin waste (and waste in general), but also how to actually use it to actually reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Pumpkin power to the rescue!
The Energy Department seems hopeful that this plan will be successful. They say that if all goes as expected, "It might not be long until the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins we produce annually are nearly as important to our energy security as they are to Halloween."
In the meantime, if you're worried about the fate of your own decrepit pumpkins, you can also keep them out of landfills and get some extra mileage out them by opting to eat what you can and compost the rest instead.