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News - Just gassin'

Group demands curbs on 'human emissions'

SAN FRANCISCO — Angered by President George W. Bush's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, a coalition of environmental groups has launched a nationwide campaign to encourage "voluntary curbs in human CO2 emissions."

Organizers said the new group, known as the Personal Emissions Reduction Coalition, was formed in direct response to Bush's decision. "We can't wait on Washington," said PERC spokesman Chuck Enlittle, "We need to act now to cut our individual carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the greenhouse gasses causing global warming."

According to PERC, human carbon dioxide emissions are largely the result of exhaling. "People breathe in oxygen and that's not really a problem," Enlittle explained, "The trouble comes when people breathe out, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That practice makes each of us, in essence, a little self-contained human pollution factory."

At a morning press conference in San Francisco, the coalition called on all Americans to refrain from inordinate and ultimately unsustainable amounts of individual exercise.

"Jogging and working out may seem like innocuous ways to stay in shape," the spokesman said, "but, in boosting CO2 emissions, they are doing irreparable harm to our environment."

PERC said high levels of personal exercise are particularly problematic in the United States. "We may have our share of couch potatoes," the spokesman said, "but we also have more heavy-breathing fitness fiends than any other country."

The group has targeted Americans as the world's largest per capita producers of personal carbon emissions. "As an affluent society, we have an unfair surplus of leisure time relative to those in other lands," the spokesman explained, "Our reckless pursuit of fitness at any price is an assault on poor people planet-wide. They don't have a whole lot of air-conditioning in places like Myanmar and Equatorial Guinea, I assure you."

As an alternative to strenuous exercise, PERC is encouraging the public to consider "low-emission leisure pursuits" like board games and roadside litter pickup. "Golf would be OK, too, if it weren't for all the water they waste on the grass," the spokesman said, "We believe Endangered Species Scrabble and Global Enviro-Parcheesi may hold the key to getting our planet back on track."

To reduce breathing, PERC is also encouraging people to spend more time sleeping or relaxing. "When we sleep or rest, we produce far less CO2 than we would if we were up and around, " said the spokesman. "Today, sloth is actually a good thing."

But, the group stressed, any additional time in bed needs to be spent sleeping or reading, not engaging in sexual activity. "We don't support any behavior that encourages rapid breathing, no matter how fun it may be," the spokesman said, adding that PERC plans to publish a manual later this year on the practice and benefits of "low-emission sex." Research is said to be ongoing.

PERC researchers are also exploring the potential of extended self-hypnosis in the fight against human carbon dioxide emissions. "Ninjas and comic book heroes have been using such tried-and-true methods for a long time," the spokesman said. "We believe the public and the planet are ready to see what these timeless practices can do on a large scale."

Beyond breathing, PERC is looking into carbonated beverage consumption as a potential source of greenhouse gases. "Whether you burp it up or not, all that CO2 fizz has to go somewhere," the spokesman said. "While our study continues, we think there is already sufficient evidence to move, as a society, toward non-carbonated refreshments."

Asked if he wasn't producing more carbon dioxide talking than he would if he himself were home resting, the spokesman bristled noticeably. "Going forward, we will be focusing our efforts on e-mail, posters, PSAs and other zero-emission communications tools," he said, "And, yes, we're also working toward less staff breathing."

The coalition repeatedly stressed that its plans, for now, remain strictly voluntary. "We have no plans at this time to propose controlling legislation," the spokesman said. "I'm not saying it won't come to that down the road, but, right now, we're just talking about voluntary restrictions on breathing. Still, you never know."

Reached for comment at the White House, a Bush spokeswoman said, "I haven't spoken to the president about this specific initiative, but I can tell you we were all holding our breath during the Florida recount."??





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