Friday, January 13, 2006


You know, when there is a scientific discovery that contradicts things that even your nan might know, we’re talking about the sort of thing that actually spurs me to bother writing this, I am amazed that it doesn’t make the headlines on the News at 10. There has been such an event this week.
Think back to your school days for moment will you, back to those science lessons. Think about that nice carbon cycle diagram you were made to copy, learn for the exam, then, with an irony that was probably lost on you, burn down Big Rob’s on the last day of GCSE exams. Picture that diagram in your mind. Is it there? Good. Now, those arrows coming in and out of the crude plants that you drew (or in my case, the box with PLANTS written in it due to lack of artistic bent), what gasses do they represent? The arrow in to the leaf, now if you were paying attention, they should have Carbon dioxide or CO2 written by them, and the arrows going out should be labelled oxygen, or O2, the word or the symbol would have been enough I’m sure. Where was methane? That’s right, methane was being released from the pile of cow shit, the rubbish tip and the industrial complex. Was it is, I ask you, being released by plants? That’s right, it wasn’t.


This has been happening right under our noses for eons. Nobody noticed because no one looked. No one looked because no one expected it. And they discovered it by accident!
We are in early days, but it’s published in nature, so the science must be fairly robust, though as recent events show, a Nature or Science publication does not guarantee against fakery. This may have serious consequences for international carbon trading agreements, such as the Kyoto protocol, which allow planting of trees to off set carbon emissions (methane is more potent greenhouse gas than CO2), and unfortunately may act as ammunition for those resistant to tackling climate change.

So here was have a major piece of science that will cause the basic biology taught is schools to be changed, raises questions on serendipity in science and will have consequences on how we tackle global warming. Yeah, that’s all well and good, but will Jodi Marsh be evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother House? That’s what I really want to know.