Earth Tones

Three months on, and not a single health problem, unless you consider a marked increase in farting a health problem. Not surprising to me, given that my intestinal flora has doubtless been wholly revamped and my dietary intake qualitatively changed. Though I’m not aware of any mathematical models that would predict the direction of the shift to a new equilibrium, it seems to have been an upward adjustment.

If we assume the same rate of methane production pertains in a billion plus Chinese bowels, exposed to the same flora and taking in the same raw materials, that represents a lot of gas. Methane, as anyone who cooks with gas will know, is a high-caloric, colorless and odorless gas. You’re probably thinking you’ve spotted a flaw in the argument already: odorless? Yes, it’s simply spiked with a little mercaptomethane, as a safety feature, so that you’ll know when you left the gas spigot on. Ah, you meant biologically? Well, that’s also spiked with a few contaminants, presumably part of the intelligent design not to let us get away scot-free with sinful acts.

But let us not lose the main spoor. I’m thinking globally. Because of its caloric content, it, in its billion-fold manifestation, represents a huge loss of energy, and renewable energy at that, daily renewed. At the personal level, this may explain why the Chinese seem to eat so much but stay so slim. A large portion of those food calories they just blow off. To the perspicacious, this immediately suggests a business plan. If Dannon, for example, could hire a few genetic engineers to graft a couple of methanococcus genes into their lactobacillus, they might actually sustain a claim that eating their yogurt has a net negative effect on calorie balance. Atkins, move over. Sure, it would have to bear a G.M.O. label, but Americans don’t give a fart about that.

Methane, even more than carbon dioxide, has a powerful greenhouse effect. But think twice before you write that off as a fatal flaw. Consider Chinese greenhouses, which allow them to get three harvests of veggies per year, one has to assume because the the density of methane in Chinese greenhouses. Sevananda would endorse that. And Karl Rove could parlay the “China-Effect” into a compelling reason to tighten the new Bush post-Kyoto-proposal: it’s only fair to hold the Chinese to their current 1/5 per capita CO2 emission, compared to the U.S., because their per anica CH4 emission is so terrific.

I am sure there is a connection here also to the old Alsatian aphorism that a farting horse doesn’t tire. I’ve tried googling to find a correlation between flatulence and economic growth. But without success. The economists – Marxist or capitalist – apparently haven’t got a whiff of an idea. Economists generally make do with mere correlation, but my hypothese promises scientific explanation with a direct cause-and-effect relationship. And to think of some of the lame issues which have won Nobel prizes in Economics.

Don’t just divulge these ideas to anyone. I need to do more research before applying for patent protection. The bath water is running, and I have been able to find some wide-mouth Chinese jars.

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