March 6, 2009

Snails emit laughing gas

Worms are not alone! here


A new Danish scientific report says that snails and other small animals emit worrying amounts of laughing gas into the atmosphere.

A recent proposal from the Danish Tax Commission unsuccessfully proposed imposing a flatulence tax on ruminants because of their greenhouse gas emissions. That proposal was not part of the final tax reform agreement announced on Sunday.

Now, new Danish scientific research shows that small animals such as snails, worms, larvae and crustaceans emit large and worrying amounts of nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas – into the atmosphere.

Nitrous oxide is a strongly destructive greenhouse gas some 300 times stronger than CO2. A Team of researchers from Århus University under the leadership of Assistant Professor Peter Stief has now shown that the worst producers of nitrous oxide are smaller animals in polluted water.

Cleaner water
“The problem is greatest where water is polluted with nitrogen. So efforts to develop a cleaner aquatic environment would not just affect de-oxygenation but also have an effect on the climate balance,” says Associate Professor Andreas Schramm of the Biological Institute.

Unfortunately, however, global developments are going in the opposite direction towards more intensive agriculture and an increased use of fertilisers which will increase the amount of nitrogen seepage.

“That means more polluted aquatic environments in which small animals emit large amounts of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. This is not just a minor issue but a development that is increasingly important and is getting worse,” he tells Ritzau.

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