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June 19, 2012

Researchers In Search Of A Problem

This study purports to show that "scared" herbivores carb-load and this causes them to decompose in a less environmentally-helpful way, after they die.

No, not kidding.

Observe the scientific technique:

They placed cages in areas of natural vegetation and allowed some grasshoppers to be alone while others were placed in cages with a spider. They glued the mouths of the spiders shut in order to make sure that the grasshoppers experienced pure fear, but were not actually killed by the predators.
Previous research has shown that grasshoppers, which normally consume nitrogen-rich grass, move to a diet of carbohydrate-rich grass to cope with stress.

This replicates that state of nature where grasshoppers and spiders are in contact with each other for extended periods of time, the grasshopper never gets away, and the spider constantly menaces but never catches its prey. Also; 'previous research?' That leads me to believe these researchers never bothered to replicate those results in this experiment.

But, let's give it to them. Let's say that animals that die after hitting the potato chips, decompose very differently from how they do after a salad. We will agree for the sake of getting along, that the relative paucity of nitrogen in these nervous, pasta-bingeing grasshoppers produces a less beneficial effect on soil flora (if they had a *more* beneficial effect, this data would be very inconvenient).

Naturally, the conclusion to be drawn here is that these processes affect the climate! OK, they don't actually say that, but carbon is so often cited as a catalyst for The Villainous Warmening, that the words 'global carbon balance' and 'climate' are virtually interchangeable in articles devoted to the subject.

They found the grass decomposed between 60 per cent and 200 per cent faster in soil containing stress-free grasshoppers compared to the stressed grasshoppers, a result they say is "huge."

"This shows that animals could potentially have huge effects on the global carbon balance because they're changing the way microbes respire organic matter."

It shows no such thing (if this article is accurate about the research)! At most, it shows that soil nitrogen speeds up composting. That's about it. We already knew that. There's nothing here that suggests these researchers have reason to extrapolate that herbivore mood affects the carbon balance of the globe.

I mean...just...damn. Please. Please, people. This nonsense has to stop.

Oh, no, but never mind. The evidence for a phony chain of events is being manufactured, so let's go on and jump ahead a few bricks: stressed animals contribute to Global Climate Change. You heard it here first. And you should all stay out of the woods, lest you startle some chipmunks and magically convert them into pollutants. One can only look forward with delight to what the carbon-obsessed EPA will do with further studies like this.

Killer poison ivy
, dinosaur flatulence and terrified crickets. They're really grasping for straws.

digg this
posted by Laura. at 12:58 PM

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