The rare Amazon Manatee farts out greenhouse gases. Should we kill off the species to save the Earth?

Best answer: You need to wrap your mind around the "economies of scale" - that is, eliminating a single population with a limited numbers will do little to effect the amount of green house gases. On the other hand significantly reducing the use of fossil fuels will reduce or limit the growth of green house gases.

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So do human beings.

In both cases, the carbon is extracted from the atmosphere in the first place, by plants performing photosynthesis, and ends up (somewhere up the food chain) being consumed as food by the manatee (or human). If it's exhaled as carbon dioxide, there's no net change to the atmosphere at all--even a net benefit for the time the carbon's out of the atmosphere.

If it's farted, there's a slight net greenhouse effect, because methane traps more heat than CO2, but the methane breaks down quickly so--since the carbon was, again, out of the atmosphere for a while--it's pretty much a wash as far as greenhouse effect goes.

The problem only comes when we dig or pump up carbon that was taken out of the atmosphere geological ages ago, and its original extraction was part of the process of making the planet livable for large mammals like manatees and humans in the first place. Most of the coal, for instance, was underground before the end of the Paleozoic Era, and we couldn't have evolved at all if that stuff had stayed in the atmosphere--so it's dangerous to put it back.

So do ruminants such as cattle; should we require that all restaurants and grocery stores stop selling beef? No problem with what fast-food hamburgers are made out of since we know that whatever it might be it's not beef.

You need to wrap your mind around the "economies of scale" - that is, eliminating a single population with a limited numbers will do little to effect the amount of green house gases. On the other hand significantly reducing the use of fossil fuels will reduce or limit the growth of green house gases.