Did Dinosaur Farts Cause Global Warming?
The Telegraph noted in 2010 that scientists believe that wooly mammoth farts helped create a warming period 13,000 years ago:
Mammoths helped to fill the atmosphere with methane and keep the Earth warm more than 13,000 years ago, scientists believe.
Together with other large plant-eating mammals that are now extinct, they released around 9.6 million tonnes of the gas each year, experts estimated.
When the ”megafauna” disappeared there was a dramatic fall in atmospheric methane which may have altered the climate.
Analysis of gases trapped in ice cores suggests that the loss of animal emissions accounted for a large amount of the decline.
”The changes in methane concentration at this time seem to be unique,” said the researchers, writing in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Not to be outdone, this week scientists said that dinosaur farts packed a much larger wallop. As Reuters reports:
In a major new climate finding, researchers have calculated that dinosaur flatulence could have put enough methane into the atmosphere to warm the planet during the hot, wet Mesozoic era.
Just like big cows, their plant digestion was aided by methane-producing microbes.
“A simple mathematical model suggests that the microbes living in sauropod dinosaurs may have produced enough methane to have an important effect on the Mesozoic climate,” researcher Dave Wilkinson of Liverpool John Moores University said in a statement.
“Indeed, our calculations suggest that these dinosaurs could have produced more methane than all modern sources – both natural and man-made – put together,” Wilkinson said.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with as much as 25 times the climate-warming potential as carbon dioxide.
Wilkinson and co-author Graeme Ruxton of the University of St. Andrews worked with methane expert Euan Nisbet at the University of London to make an educated guess about the degree to which gaseous emissions from sauropods could have warmed the atmosphere.
They reckoned that global methane emissions from sauropods were about 520 million tons per year, comparable to all modern methane emissions.
As we’ve repeatedly pointed out, both global warming “activists” and “skeptics” can agree on 6 things.
Perhaps we can agree on one more: things probably smell better than they used to.