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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Every Breath

Air Date: Week of December 12, 1997

When officials talk about reducing air pollution and combating global warming, they usually mean reducing the burning of fossil fuels. But commentator Neal Rauch says focusing the blame on industry alone isn't fair. When it comes to curbing CO2 emissions, he thinks we should all share the burden. Commentator Neal Rauch breathes lightly in New York City where he works as freelance producer.

Transcript

KNOY: When officials talk about reducing air pollution and combating global warming, they usually mean reducing the burning of fossil fuels. But commentator Neal Rauch says focusing the blame on industry alone isn't fair. When it comes to curbing CO2 emissions, he thinks we should all share the burden.

RAUCH: Politicians are always blaming the poor factory, car, and homeowner for causing havoc with global warming. Well, what about exhaling? We breathe out carbon dioxide an average of 16 times a minute. That's 8,409,600 times a year, or 8,432,640 times in leap years. I'll bet you that every time you breathe out, the Earth's average temperature rises by .1 trillionth of a degree, Celsius. Multiply that by the almost 6 billion people on the planet, and that's a lot of hot air.

Now, I'm not suggesting that we become mirror images of President Clinton and not exhale. But if we could all just reduce our rate of breathing by say, a mere 10%, global warming just might cease to be a problem. If certain self-centered people would stop jogging and cycling, just slow down, sit still, and watch more TV, why we'd be halfway there. And more sexual abstinence might also cut down on CO2 emissions, not to mention the positive effect on overpopulation.

Another simple solution: exhale into balloons. Not only would you be reducing global warming, but think of all the pleasure you'd be bringing to the children of the world. And we could use the balloons to create floating cities on lakes and oceans.

Unfortunately, I'll admit, there are some drawbacks to the balloonology method. If terrorists were to find a way to pop millions of these balloons simultaneously, it could be the equivalent of nuclear war. It might even knock the Earth off its axis. Or, worse, terrorists could find a way to cause the balloons to do this.

(A high balloon squeak as air is let out)

RAUCH: Multiplied millions of times over, this could cause the world's entire human population to go instantaneously insane. So, I guess we'll just have to aim at those cars and smokestacks after all. (Exhales deeply.)

KNOY: Commentator Neal Rauch breathes lightly in New York City, where he works as a freelance producer.

 

 

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