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Blame it on the cows

Posted: December 29, 2011 11:17 a.m.
Updated: December 30, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Unless you’ve been holed up in a basement somewhere for the past few years -- if you seldom read a newspaper or watch a news broadcast on television -- you are aware of global warming and the catastrophic effects it could have upon our planet.

You know by now that the earth’s temperature is rising, and that many respected scientists say it could result in the melting of the polar ice caps, with a rise in sea level that could leave New York and other coastal areas around the world under water.

Cheerful news, eh?

You are also aware, unless you’ve been playing ostrich, that there are varying opinions about what is causing this change in the earth’s climate. Some say it’s nothing more than a naturally occurring cyclical change, while others blame human effects -- pollution and greenhouse gases and other emissions that are causing holes in the ozone layer.

But now a new theory is emerging, a revolutionary scientific postulate, a startling hypothesis that lays the blame where no others have dared place it before:

On cows.

Some scientists are saying the increase in the number of cows on the earth, and the startling level of flatulence in these bovines -- cow tooting, to put it bluntly -- is ruining our planet.

They say cow flatulence is rising into the air, creating a giant methane umbrella that’s hovering above us at this very moment. (“Don’t look up now, Irene, ’cause you ain’t gonna like what you see.” )

All that methane traps heat, and then the ozone layer deteriorates, and the planet gets hot and things start melting. Fairly simple, if you have a degree in nuclear physics.

Nobody has proposed an answer to this problem, but it seems doggone clear that we’re either going to have to reduce the number of cows in the world or start giving them all a few anti-gas Beano tablets along with their hay.

This whole situation could reverberate -- excuse the expression -- throughout the world.

Just think: Chick-Fil-A could have an entire new advertising campaign built around this subject:

Announcer:  "If you’re a responsible American, you’ll say no to burgers and flatulent cows, and yes to chicken sandwiches. Remember: a chicken toot is a small thing, and barely audible at that. When you eat at Chick-Fil-A, you’re helping to save the planet.”

The only thing worse would be for humans to be infected with the same digestive behavior as cows. You might recall a couple years ago, when aviation officials arrested a woman and carted her off an airplane because she slipped out a couple of stinkers and then lit matches to cover up the odor.

Think maybe she was embarrassed as she did the handcuffed perp walk up the airplane aisle?

But back to the scientific end of this:

In Argentina, where there are 55 million cows, researchers are attaching balloon-like plastic bags to the backs of cows. A tube runs from the animals' stomachs to the bags, where the gas collects, and scientists later examine the contents.

Not your dream job, you're probably saying to yourselves.

And a couple years ago, the government of New Zealand proposed a flatulence tax, which failed because of public protests against it.

Can you imagine? "Mr. United Nations Chairman, the Minister of New Zealand Cow Gas Taxation would now like to speak."

As an aside, I would like to let you know that my friend Waylon Fortenberry of Chesterfield County is highly anxious that the idea of a flatulence tax could catch on in this country because … well, you really don't want to know.

But wait. There’s more. (I know, I know, you’re saying, “But I don’t want to hear any more.”)

OK, I’ll honor that. That’s all I’m going to say right now about flatulence.

But don’t forget that there are millions of cows out there, some of them probably fundamentalist Islamic cows that are bent on destroying our way of life.

And remember to watch out for that methane umbrella. Standing under it could ruin your day.

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