Thursday, 10 July 2008

Holy Cow Fart, Man

"WINDY cows are having bright red tanks strapped to them to check the gases they let off — in a bid to beat global warming," according to the Sun, under the fantastic headline "This is a real wind farm."

I know, this isn't a new story - livestock farts have been getting the blame for unacceptable methane levels for months, and there have been various oddball attempts at "research" into a "solution". But the (very large) picture of some poor cow stood in an enclosure with an enormous red plastic tank strapped to its back just has to be seen to be believed.

Clearly, the cow in question is at least dimly aware of its predicament, and doesn't look at all happy to be living under the biggest ever fart-in-a-bottle. I just hope nobody tries the old fart-lighting trick, or they may end up with the world's first rocket driven cow - is the world ready for methane propelled cows roaring across the landscape, I wonder?

Hmm, come to think of it, it's probably a neat way to avoid the Government's road tax ram-raid, and save on petrol too. Not sure the cows would approve, though.

But, keeping these strange visions to myself for a moment, isn't all this a bit odd? The article claims that the top trump scientists in Argentina, where this experiment is taking place, believe animal farts to account for up to 30% of the country's methane output.

Fair enough, but surely, that means that this level of methane output is normal - or, at least, natural. I suppose there are rather more cows knocking about than perhaps there would be if humans didn't farm them so aggressively, accounting for some of the output. But, left to their own devices in a habitat that is pretty good for them, any species will quickly become very well established.

Doesn't that rather do away with the idea that humans are behind all this alleged global warming guff? Wouldn't the combined cow / other reasonable sized grazing beasts be contributing a fairly hefty amount of methane to the atmosphere with, or without human intervention? And, if that's the case, who are we to interfere with a natural process for our own advantage?

Still, in the spirit of scientific enquiry, it would be interesting to see how much methane / other greenhouse gasses are pumped out by wildlife - such as wildebeest, for example - in their natural habitat. I can't wait to see pictures of roaming herds of the buggers, complete with bright red methane tank. Nor can I wait to hear the outcry from the eco-warrior camp when someone tries it!

Also in the spirit of enquiry, it might be instructive to strap similar tanks on the scientists themselves, with a view to measuring the useless hot air they expel - probably enough to power a medium-sized town for a year.

Billy Seggars.

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