Friday, June 17, 2011

Camels and Carbon

When I was in college way back when smoking a cigarette was cool I used to smoke Camels without any filter. They were a great smoke and the advertising campaign was “I’d walk a mile for a camel”. The advertising campaign to walk a mile for a camel was originally a 1920s campaign but was brought back in the late 1960s. In the 1940s their advertising campaign was “more doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette”. In the 2000s the campaign became “pleasure to burn” with a cartoon character called Joe Camel. Now hardly anyone walks and some people still smoke camels but thank goodness no one believes that more doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette. What is all this talk about camels and why does the green machine even care?

Well I have several readers from down under and those Waltzing Matildas have a problem with feral camels in the outback. An enterprising Aussie in the mid 19th century thought it would be a good idea to import camels from India and use these animals for draught animals in the outback. They did this for a few years till railroads and internal combustion engines proved to better at hauling freight and the Aussies being kind let the Camels roam free in the outback. The camels like to hump so to speak and now there are 1.2 million feral camels roaming the outback. The camel population doubles every 8 years so soon there may be more camels than Aussies.

Wild camels cause trouble with the vegetation and even pull off the air conditioning units on houses to get to the condensed water inside the units. Worse still each camel emits over 100 pounds of methane per year. The Aussies hope to pass a bill in their parliament to allow killing of the camels under the “carbon farming initiative”. There will also be a bounty on the head of each killed camel. Wow 1.2 million camels and each blowing out 100 pounds a year of methane that is 21 times the greenhouse gas of carbon dioxide and we get about 1.2 million tons a year of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas simply for the methane emissions of feral camels. I have no idea how much vegetation they destroy but that also has to add a significant quantity of greenhouse gas as the result of these animals being free.

Time magazine reported the following: “As Australia struggles to get out from under its status as the world's largest carbon emitter per capita, at least one company has sensed an opportunity. Under the nation's Carbon Farming Initiative, a plan to help combat emissions that was submitted to parliament yesterday, Adelaide-based Northwest Carbon has suggested the nation solve its camel crisis by putting a price on the animals' heads — on the carbon market. Under the scheme, companies and individuals would receive carbon credits for shooting camels by helicopter or truck, or herding them and taking them to slaughterhouses. The camels could be processed for pet food or human consumption, and the carbon credits earned could be sold to domestic or foreign polluting companies. “We're a nation of innovators and we find innovative solutions to our challenges,” Northwest Carbon's Tim Moore told the Australian. “This is just a classic example."

The Green Machine is all for culling the herd of feral camels and selling the meat as a delicacy. The Aussies need an ad campaign and should go back to what camel cigarettes used in the 1990 when they had a cartoon character called Joe Camel. Aussies call young kangaroos Joeys and the blokes down under could have a new cartoon hero called Joey “the kid kangaroo that kicked the Camel’s butt”. Note the pun on cigarette butts. Joey could be made to look the Elmer Fudd of kangaroos and he will carry his rifle ever in the pursuit of a “wery ganggween fewal camel”.