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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Hugh Bollinger
/ Categories: Uncategorized

Smelly camels

Australia has a big problem with feral camels. The dromedaries were brought to the island in the mid-19th century for use in exploring the continent's interior. They didn't work out too well as exploration transport-- camels are known to be a bit cantankerous and they smell bad as well --and once abandoned, multiplied rapidly with nothing to control their numbers. The beasts now exceed 1 million feral camels wandering about the Australian Outback munching away at the arid vegetation. The also fart heaps of methane gas contributing to the overall volume of greenhouse emissions produced in OZ. [caption id="attachment_4775" align="aligncenter" width="443" caption="Map of feral camel distribution in Australia source: Australian Ministry of Sustainability"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_4772" align="alignright" width="1024" caption="Feral camels in Australia photo credit: Northern Territories Ministry of the Environment"][/caption] If you've forgotten the basic physics and chemistry of greenhouse gasses, methane traps 20 times more heat than CO2 making it a powerful contributor to potential atmospheric warming. According to the camel analysis, each of the feral animals releases about 100 pounds of methane per year which is the warming equivalent of about 2,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per year per camel. This represents ~5 percent of Australia's total greenhouse gases produced by all their livestock animals, a reasonably significant number by itself. Here's an environmental situation where eliminating an invasive pest not only reduces the impact on the desert but also assists reduction of greenhouse gases. The Outback might smell a bit better as well. WHB
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