Most of us consider farts to be little more than a mild embarrassment. But cow farts (and burps) are a scourge upon the Earth, releasing heat-trapping methane that wreaks havoc on our climate. Now, heroic scientists want to put an end to global warming-by-flatulence once and for all.
While it is fun to talk about farts, really most of the methane comes out the front end of the cow.
My takeaway is that methane deserves more attention than it’s getting relative to the CO2 emissions we’re flipping out about, especially if it’s true that climate change may result in the release of large amounts of methane trapped underground/undersea.
If pivoting somewhat to methane relieves some of the economic pressure that CO2-focused legislation is causing, then the pivot seems like an opportunity to have our cake (cut climate change risk) and eat it too (lessen the economic hit from the CO2 focus) somewhat.
We avoid mercury, arsenic, and lead exposure, but there’s one heavy metal that we gulp down in smaller doses: bismuth. And if it were less toxic, bismuth could one day keep us from stinking up elevators and other public places with our farts.
Let’s be real: everyone loves to fart and hates to exercise. That’s why so many of us were excited by the recent news that farting could potentially make you lose weight! “I fart all day,” we all thought, “I could be a size two by Christmas.” Too bad it was all a beautiful shit-smelling lie.
The beautiful animal in the photo above is a Beaded Lacewing. While the adults are delicate and lovely, they begin life as ferocious tiny predators lurking in the nests of termites. These larvae live unmolested in their nest, silently striking down termites from behind—and for one species, with their behind.
In 2005, two researchers published a series of articles investigating the subject of other people’s smelliness. They examined how much disgust people would feel and show after smelling a variety of odors, including armpits, garbage and farts. Among the stinks examined, farts elicited the strongest negative response, and across all body odors, people consistently rated odors of other people worse than their own (with one notable exception in that the armpit sweat of one’s partner was generally rated as less offensive than a person’s own…)
In-flight flatulence is a common discomfort – so what causes it? And what can we do to save embarrassment? David Robson speaks to a Danish doctor with some surprising answers.
…It may be a universal experience, but as Rosenberg combed the medical literature, he found that there are some surprisingly prevalent misconceptions surrounding our wind. Despite popular belief, studies show men are not more flatulent than women, for example (though they may be more public about it); in fact the same study from the late 90s found women’s flatulence has a higher concentration of the smelly sulphurous compounds, and was rated as having a more potent odour by a few unlucky judges. And although beans may be known “as the musical fruit”, a recent experiment found that it is not nearly as inflammatory as most would believe, and its effects differ widely from person to person. Foods known to reduce flatulence include fish, rice, dairy products, fish and strained fruit juice – since they leave less waste in the gut for fermentation.
…Airlines also tend to make sure the in-flight food is low in fibre, but high in carbohydrates – a balance that is more likely to calm our digestion. It’s not clear when or how they came to these decisions – but we can guess that Brussels sprouts and cabbage left the in-flight menu at a fairly early point in aviation history.
This animation (vimeo, 1:03 minutes) was created for Men’s Health Magazine. Now every time you feel those gas pains, you can imagine a little animated factory fermenting the oligosaccharides in your colon.
Tip: Do not salt the water when boiling beans. It hardens the shells, dramatically increasing flatulence.