At CDN we are vigorous opponents of conspiracy theories of all sorts. And no, we don’t care how important it makes you feel to believe that Bill Gates is targeting you personally, or that climate skepticism is a cunning ploy by oil companies. Human beings are capable of great cruelty and great folly, but the latter undermines the vast sinister plots and leaves only the monstrous bungles. Still, how can we argue that climate zealots are not secretly conspiring to depopulate the planet if MSN is willing to reprint a story saying “Human breathing harms the environment”? We shudder to think that even modern journalists might be unable to see the limited options available for dealing with that issue.
The story is not from the Babylon Bee. And we would understand if even their dedicated satirical team was tempted to throw in the towel when faced with a deadpan report that:
“A new study claims that the gases expelled from human lungs during respiration are contributing to global warming as the methane and nitrous oxide in the air exhaled makes up 0.1 per cent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions.”
Scientists might also be tempted to give up. After all, as we’ve also repeatedly said, if nature is so fragile that blowing on it could easily destroy it, there’s no way it’s going to make it anyhow, and no explanation for why it’s still around today.
For instance, although the settled science of paleontology apparently keeps redefining “Iguanodon” and narrowing it down, the iguanodontians broadly speaking may well have been the most successful animal ever if measured in pound-years (that is, the total mass of them that ever existed) due in part to their being the first to engage in highly efficient side-to-side chewing. And this enormous quantity of iguanodon meat roaming about with its cool spikey thumbs and prehensile fifth finger well-suited to foraging for plant matter surely breathed out gases in quantities, and possibly with a bouquet, suited to wilt entire forests of Jurassic conifers. And atmospheric CO2 was already far higher then, up to 2,000 ppm. Yet somehow “the environment” pulled through. In fact flowering plants evolved.
Now it may be objected that humans do not just breathe gas. And in the story it is:
“Humans also contribute to environmental harm with the release of gases from burping and farting as well as emissions that come from the skin that go unnoticed.”
Without engaging in any juvenile jests about the kinds of “releases” you’d have noticed from a T. Rex that had just bolted down several hundred pounds of raw quivering Iguanodon, we again have to note the impudent absurdity of suggesting that gases leaking from your skin might be destroying the planet. What’s it made of, crepe paper?
The grotesque lack of proportion here ought to set off warning bells. But when it comes to climate alarmism, they have evidently been disconnected. Along with a sense of the absurd. Thus:
“Dr. Nicholas Cowan, an atmospheric physicist at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, said: ‘Exhaled human breath can contain small, elevated concentrations of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20), both of which contribute to global warming. We would urge caution in the assumption that emissions from humans are negligible.’”
We would urge caution in thinking the government won’t eventually put this sort of thinking to a very bad use. Suppose our breath really is killing the environment. What logical options suggest themselves?
Perhaps ask ChatGPT, because as this form of AI that combs the Internet for banal conventional wisdom is increasingly paired with robots possessing superhuman strength, agility and endurance, the resulting terminators might make an obvious choice we didn’t see coming, especially if they conclude from the kinds of stuff we did for fun, and believed about science, that we were too dumb to live anyway.
You could never have convinced an Iguanodon its breath would destroy Pangaea. Never.