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Todd Hartley

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I'm With Stupid: When Inappropriately Named Dinosaurs Warmed the Earth

Posted: 05/11/2012 4:26 pm

When I was about four years old and dinosaurs were my favorite thing in the world, I desperately wanted to change my name to Pachycephalosaurus Hartley. You see, I never crawled, and I wasn't a very good walker, so I spent a lot of time falling flat on my face.

As a result, I spent much of my toddlerhood with big, swollen knots on my forehead. It wasn't pretty, but I figured if I could convince people who I was indeed a pachycephalosaurus, whose name means "thick-headed lizard," they'd think the swollen parts were supposed to be there, and they wouldn't make fun of me anymore.

I never did change my name, mainly because, despite being just 4 years old, I realized that changing one's name to that of a dinosaur was something that sane people simply didn't do. Apparently, I was wrong.

Just last week, a 23-year-old Nebraska man named Tyler Gold legally changed his name to Tyrannosaurus Rex Gold. In his public filing for the name change, Gold wrote that "name recognition is important, and the new name is more recognizable." On that count, he's entirely correct. Given his age, Gold was born at a time when every white, male child in America was named either Tyler or Cody, which makes Tyrannosaurus Rex a much more interesting moniker.

Unfortunately, however, Gold's actions could lead to a huge setback in the ongoing fight against global warming. How? Well, if all the other 20-something Tylers out there decide they, too, want to be prehistoric beasts, we'll all have to contend with the very real danger of dinosaur flatulence.

You may think I'm kidding, but I'm not. I assure you that scientists will back me up on this one. In fact, in the most recent edition of the Journal Current Biology, scientists from a number of universities in the U.K. published a report detailing the effects of dinosaur methane emissions on the climate of the Mesozoic Era, and the results were sobering, to say the least.

Here's what we know about methane: It's a "greenhouse gas" that absorbs infrared radiation and traps it in the Earth's atmosphere, raising temperatures around the globe. Here's what we think we know about the Mesozoic Era: Temperatures back then might have been as much as 18 degrees warmer, and the reason things were so much higher was because of methane emissions.

You've all heard that cow farts are supposed to be one of the one main contributors to global warming, right? There's even a rumor that if you hold a match up to a cow's rear end, it will ignite a flame that will burn until the cow finally dies of old age; that's how much methane cows are supposedly emitting. Yeah? Well, guess what: According to one British scientist, "Cows today produce something like 50 to 100 (million tons) per year. Our best estimate for sauropods is around 520 (million tons)."

Sauropods, in case you're wondering, were the lumbering, long-necked dinosaurs like diplodocus, brachiosaurus and the creature formerly known as brontosaurus. They were essentially the cows of their day, only much bigger.

Sure, Tyrannosaurus Rex Gold probably isn't the same size as a brontosaurus, but if one were to combine the mass of every Tyler in the U.S., it would probably be the equivalent of all those sauropods. Thus, if all those Tylers suddenly become dinosaurs and start releasing gas in a similar manner, it could realistically mean that hundreds of millions of tons of dinosaur gas would be joining the cow gas and driving temperatures up to potentially lethal heights. And if all the Codys out there decide they want to be dinosaurs, too, we could all be dead by next week.

So here's what needs to happen: If your name is Tyler or Cody or, for that matter, Chet, Chad, Todd, Biff, Trip or something else embarrassingly white, no one will blame you for wanting to change it. But if you decide to change your name, don't change it to something that will make you start emitting more methane. That's not what the world needs right now.

Instead, try to change your name to something that might help cool the planet down a little. The Sami people of the Arctic have hundreds of words for snow. Perhaps one would suit you. For instance, you could change your name to Luotkku, which means "loose snow." It's not a great name, admittedly, but let's face it: It's not a whole lot worse than Tyler.

Pachycephalosaurus Hartley reminds you that attempting to stop methane emissions with a cork is extremely dangerous. To read more or leave a comment, visit zerobudget.net.

 
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