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Tree Farts and Kissing Chickens: What the Scientists are Worried About

By: Kendall Hemphill, San Angelo Live

OPINION — For over a year now the CDC, which is, seriously, located in Atlanta, Georgia, has been telling us what to do to avoid getting sick. Their latest medical advice has nothing to do with the covid thing, but I have to admit it sounds pretty solid. Last week the US public health agency issued a statement urging Americans not to kiss chickens.

Now, that may sound kind of harsh, if you’re the kind that likes a good smooch from your favorite hen now and then, but there have been salmonella outbreaks here and there, and the CDC thinks the disease may be coming from poultry. Specifically, people getting a little too cozy with their birds. The remedy is social distancing, or at least chicken distancing, so no snuggling with them either.

But as strange as this story is, it’s not the weirdest item that came along this week. It’s not even the oddest thing to come from a federal scientific agency lately. No, that would be the story about tree farts. And lest you think I made this story up, you’re welcome to look it up online on the Science News website. Or the Smithsonian website. Or the Scientific American website. Tree farts. Seriously.

The title of the Science News article is ‘Tree farts contribute about a fifth of greenhouse gases from ghost forests.’ They even put ‘tree farts’ in the title. And although you already knew how horrible greenhouse gases are, you probably didn’t know that tree farts cause a fifth of them. Makes me wonder how many fifths they’ve had over there at Science News. And if tree farts can be lit. Just wonderin.

I was also wondering about ghost forests, since I had no idea such a thing existed. Turns out ghost forests are basically dead trees that are, mostly, still standing. There are a lot of them along the North Carolina coast, where sea water encroaches into shoreline woodlands and kills the trees. And the dead trees give off gases the scientists call farts. I guess they don’t get out a lot, those scientists.

Of course, the real story is that I’m the cause of these tree farts, since the trees are dying because of rising sea levels, which are caused by global warming, which is my fault because I drive a pickup and use deodorant and eat steak. If I’d just straighten up, the trees would quit farting, is how I understand it. Sorry.

Tree farts
Tree farts

The best line in the Science News story, though, is ‘A team of ecologists went sniffing for tree farts in ghost forests.’ They really don’t get out much, those scientists.

Anyway, this is basically another way to let us know how much damage we’re causing the environment. And people are listening. I know they’re listening, because readers constantly ask me what they can do, as individuals, to help stop climate change. People are genuinely concerned that if we don’t do something right now, we’re all doomed. I hate to tell them we’re all doomed anyway, but there you go.

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So, for those of you who are wondering what you can contribute to the fight against climate change, I’ve compiled a short list of changes you need to make in your life, immediately if not sooner, before it’s too late. Bear in mind that this list is far from comprehensive, but if you believe climate change is anthropogenic, you don’t have a choice. These are not suggestions, they’re mandates.

First, you have to stop driving your car, or riding public transportation of any kind, as all vehicles run on fossil fuels. Electric vehicles are not an option, since over 70% of the electricity in the US comes from burning coal or natural gas. And no riding animals, either. The methane they produce is far worse than CO2 for the atmosphere.

You can’t buy any prescription drugs, or over-the-counter drugs, or manufactured clothes, or plastic products, computers, cell phones, ipads, ipods, ipuds, or anything with an I in it. No food products that weren’t grown in your county and hauled to your local market in a wheelbarrow. No toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, paper plates, or paper party hats. No toothpaste, nasal spray, deodorant, hair gel, makeup, lotion, soap, or fabric softener. No air conditioning, water heaters, television, radio, electric lights, Coleman lanterns, flashlights, or any light source except candles and rushes. Rushes were big during the Middle Ages.

Pretty much everything in your life must go, if you want to save the planet. You really shouldn’t even be reading this column, because it was published using fossil fuels, and either posted to the web using electricity or printed on paper and distributed using gas or diesel. So stop right now.

Since saving the planet is an imperative, and using fossil fuels is killing the planet, we really have no choice. Sorry, but it’s the Dark Ages for all of us. Body odor, malnutrition, and disease is the only way to go.

About the only thing you’re allowed to do anymore is kiss your chicken . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who has never met a bird that looked kissable. Write to him at