Squelch the belch, shut the…

January 24th, 2008
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There’s a snippet of It’s a Wonderful Life that can’t help but make a haggard parent smile. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) comes home in despair, thinking he may be financially ruined. He lashes out at all the little things happening around him as if to compensate for the huge burden weighing him down. All the while his youngest son, barely two, trails behind him, pulling on his pant leg. “Excuse me, excuse me,” the boy keeps repeating. Exasperated, his father turns around and shouts “What is it?!” “I burped”, replies his son, grinning at how polite he could be.

Based on yet more ruminant research, apparently cows everywhere should also be apologizing for their burping, because it too is contributing to the warming of the planet. Readers will recall previous concerns expressed by climate watchdogs that cow flatulence is contributing to climate change. Significant funds are apparently now being directed to ruminating on their digestive systems.

The latest news suggests that the situation is (surprise!) even worse that expected. Despite the previous emphasis on flatulence, the Swedish researcher quoted suggests that “95 percent of the methane released by cows comes out through the mouth”. Presumably, more squeamish scientists will appreciate the fact they can now switch from one end of the animal to the other.

The almost $600,000 will presumably measure how rank the bovine belches actually are. Alternative feed is also being contemplated.

As an aside, that kind of money for research would be considered enormous by your average lunchbucket, geological academic. Ten percent of that would be a typical project budget for many of the professors I know. Guess they need to find some belching cows on their outcrops.

Under the related rubric of “taking it to the streets”, protests in favour of more action to “fight” climate change continue. In Ottawa, there are ongoing notices for “Global Days of Action” to “stop climate chaos”. Presumably chaos is worse than change. It’s noteworthy that the printing of the large, glossy announcement posters was donated by the National Union of Public and General Employees.

Despite best efforts, the weather doesn’t always cooperate with such demonstrations of good intent. Thanks to alert reader T.V. for sending this report on climate change protestors being snowed out in Baltimore. I will deny right away rumours to the effect that my relatives in the area typically idle their three cars simultaneously to accelerate global warming.

But the weird weather, or chaos, simply refuses to stop (which is why, of course, the fight against it must be intensified). Recently, as MrK informed me, it snowed in Baghdad. Building on his past comments about the Bali conference, future climate meetings better stick close to the equator. Otherwise the thousands of delegates will actually have to decide what kind of clothes to pack.

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