Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pull my finger Rocky!

Burping moose bad for the environment

Amidst all the talk about carbon dioxide emissions and global warming comes news that Norway's national mascot may be contributing to the destruction of the environment, through burping and other bodily functions.

The country's so-called "King of the Forest" hasn't been widely viewed as having any really nasty personal habits, surely none that could be considered an environmental threat.

But now some researchers linked to Norway's technical university (NTNU) in Trondheim contend that moose are responsible for tons of gas emissions a year through their frequent burping and, well, farting.

"Shoot a moose and save yourself a climate quota," joked moose researcher (and moose hunter) Reidar Andersen at NTNU to newspaper VG on Tuesday. He's published a book on the life of a moose.

And he's only half joking. The research web site has calculated that the annual gas emissions from a moose are equal to those from an individual's 36 flights between Oslo and Trondheim.

A grown moose will burp and pass so much methane gas in the course of a year that it amounts to 2,100 kilos of carbon dioxide emissions.

Newspaper VG reported that a motorist would have to drive 13,000 kilometers in a car to emit the same.

Bacteria in a moose's stomach create the methane gas, which in turn breaks down the plant fibers the moose has eaten. Excess gas is (ahem) farted out, and methane gas is considered more destructive than carbon gas. Cows are also a source of such gas emissions, while pigs and chickens are more environmentally considerate.

VG reported that 120,000 moose wander around in Norwegian forests. This year's looming moose hunt (elgjakt), which begins September 25, will eliminate an estimated 35,000 of them.

Of course, the moose has been around a lot longer than global warming, and in bigger numbers.

Go ahead, it's okay to laugh.

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