We can add squirrels to the growing list of animals which are to blame for making the globe warm up because of the gases generated by their bodies or their habitats.
Just recently, it was reported that methane released as a result of standing ponds created by beaver dams was contributing to global warming. We’ve already heard about cow flatulence and the detrimental effect it’s having on the climate. Now, we’ve got to deal with the arctic ground squirrel. All these animals and so little time to kill them. Where’s PETA when you need them?
According to researchers working on the Polaris Project in the Arctic, which aims to study climate change at the poles, arctic ground squirrels and beavers both contribute to carbon emissions by burrowing into the frozen soil to make their homes, churning up the soil. Feces and urine from the rodents fertilizes the soil, encouraging decomposition of biological material that had been locked in suspended animation by the frost, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Nigel Golden, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin who took part in the project told the BBC that the ground temperature around the rodents’ burrows was higher than in the surrounding area. “’They are soil engineers,” he said. “They break down the soil when they are digging their burrows, they mix the top layer with the bottom layer, they are bringing oxygen to the soil and they are fertilizing the soil with their urine and their feces.
“We saw an increase in soil temperature in the soils where the arctic ground squirrels were occupying. This is a major component. As that permafrost begins to warm, now microbes can have access to these previously frozen carbons that were in the soil. And because they mix the soil layers, they are being exposed to warmer temperatures.”
The arctic permafrost is estimated to hold twice as much carbon as is currently present in the Earth’s atmosphere. Climate scientists are therefore concerned that, if the frost melts, the carbon could be released, contributing to climate change. However, they concede that the squirrels are not able to melt the permafrost on their own. There is still a role for man in this climate catastrophe story.
“This is a larger story about wildlife impacts on carbon cycling, and how this may change as the climate warms,” said Dr Sue Natali, who led the Polaris Project.
“Human activities are the primary influence on climate. We do, however, need to understand how these activities are impacting natural ecosystems, and how these ecosystem responses will amplify or attenuate these human-driven impacts.
“Even though we cannot alter wildlife activity, it’s important that we include greenhouse gas emissions from these activities into our accounting of carbon loss from the Arctic.”
There’s nothing wrong with studying what animals do. But what’s silly is blaming the end of the world on these natural processes. How long have animals been doing what they’ve been doing? You know, all the things they do that generate “greenhouse gases.” And yet, the Earth never seemed to mind. Until now.
Why is it that we apparently got here by evolving and constantly adapting through billions and billions of years of mutations; yet beaver dams, cow flatulence and squirrel feces are finally what’s going to do us all in? We can’t “adapt” this time? It’s too much for us and our weak planet, and all the “beneficial” mutations have run out.