For decades, environmentalists have been concerned about both the extinction of countless animal species and the progression of climate change. Recent research, however, suggests that the former is a partial antidote to the latter. Not only does the widespread elimination of animal species from all different types of ecosystems reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with respiration, it also eliminates the harm that would otherwise have been done to carbon-absorbing plants. In the absence of animals, plants grow larger, live longer, and take longer to decompose.
Of course, approaches that damage both carbon-sucking plants and carbon- and methane-belching animals risk being counterproductive, as is the destruction of forests in Latin America and Asia. What has been proposed is the adoption of mechanisms that reduce animal biomass while preserving that of plants. Dr. Aprile Pazzo, a researcher from Columbia University, has suggested that the development of lethal viruses targeted specifically at species that do particular damage to plants might be an effective mechanism for mitigation. While viruses may be an effective pathway for delivering the pathogen to smaller animals that live across large ranges, more rapid and cost-effective options exist for animals like elephants and rhinos, which can consume 150 to 250kg worth of plant matter every day. For such easy to spot, high-plant-matter consuming species, aerial hunting is probably the best option, particularly given bilateral Congressional support for the practice in the United States. Another alternative, she suggests, could be the use of enhanced radiation weapons (neutron bombs) to kill animals across large areas through the use of ionizing radiation. Of course, any resulting fires would need to be promptly extinguished, before they destroyed too much forest.
A further benefit of such schemes, beyond reduced carbon emissions, is a projected increase in the oxygen content of the atmosphere: aiding the breathing of those with lung conditions, increasing the excitement of Olympic and major league shorts, and producing more spectacular fireworks displays. The plan will also produce millions of ‘green jobs’ as human beings take over the task of pollinating flowering plants from the insects, birds, and bats that primarily do so now.
Some have objected to these proposals on the basis that they will likely encourage the proliferation of vegetarian diets, as human beings find themselves in a biosphere increasingly dominated by just themselves, fungi, and plants. Others have objected to the Pazzo plan’s suggestion that global emissions might be reduced by up to 2% through program of voluntary pet euthanasia. Plans to eliminate microorganisms dependent upon aerobic cellular respiration have also come under criticism from conservation groups, who argue that human beings do not have the exclusive right to break down pyruvic acid from glycolysis, fully oxidizing it through the use of the Krebs cycle.
In addition to supporting plans to shift the biosphere balance in the direction of plants, Dr. Pazzo’s support for novel forms of carbon capture and storage also remains undiminished.