The (a) way in which we are responsible for warming:
The carbon di-oxide level has been driven up, which increases the life-supporting greenhouse effect. This was done by removing green plants (notably South American rainforests), which convert CO2 to carbon hydrates and oxygen. Also, we are burning fossil materials (oil, gas, you know), which include carbon hydrates kept under the earth for millions of years. Basically, we are injecting C that had fallen out of the system back into our ecosystem in form of CO2.
I'll ignore the O3 problem for now, as it has nothing to do with the actual climate, except in that it might increase the chance of forest fires.
Another greenhouse gas that has been established to be responsible for climate change is methane (CH4). This gas is said to be produced in large quantities by... cow farts! So we see here an indirect human effect on the climate by breeding those cows in larger numbers than they would naturally exist without Man's intervention. Who would have thought that simple farts would also endanger the planet?
yeah, I'm not quite satisfied with the cow fart theory: Cows have always farted. For this to make sense, there must be an imbalance - what is supposed to keep down the level of methane ? (like trees for CO2)
While there are more cattle being raised now, I'd guess that the fertilizer/pesticide useage used to grow grain to feed them (dairy cows and 'finishing' of most better beef cattle) as well as the land kepted deforested for grazing is a lot more enviromentally damaging then the cow farts.
A few years ago, I came across the 'farting theory' for the mass-extinction of the dinosaurs, some 65 million years ago. I personally found it completely wacky and the evidence we have now points to the fall of a large meteorite on Earth as the cause for this extinction.
Still, when you think of it, the very first forms of life on this planet also produced a compound that drove them to extinction -- oxygen -- so who knows?
You make very good points about the "elasticity" of our atmosphere, I can't believe i didn't consider that perspective, but i agree with all your other points. Now didn't scientists use the dna of that mastodon, to combine with a modern day elephant, I forget which species of elephant come from the mastodon line, Indian i think, but don't hold me to that, in the hopes of after a few generations of in vitro fertilization, to produce a pure bred mastodon?
I always love the 'asteroid to destroy earth' announcements. It's how I know a new year has started. It's never going to happen, but announcing them is like a tradition. Plus, if I had to go getting hit by a mile wide asteroid would have to be a pretty cool way to die.
There are indeed the regular 'end-of-the-world' predictions, and many of them are unfounded. The risk of getting hit by an asteroid is quite real, though. There are many large-sized near-Earth objects and it is more than likely that one will one day hit us. The questions are simply when, and what can we do to prevent such an event.
But I agree that being smashed by a mile-wide asteroid would be a pretty cool way to go!
*Looks at the sky and waits*
This is excellent! I particularly liked the comment: "The local vets said the cow was probably suffering from a disease but others said Lal was a tiger in his previous birth." It's amazing how some superstitions surface when confronted to unusual events, and how people's mind goes into overdrive. This reminds me of a Gary Larson cartoon where you see how to thwart a vampire cow by shaking a piece of beef at it!
Do meat-eating bovines fart less, though? Feeding them chicken may help reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses.