In a stroke of sheer brilliance, The journal of unlikely science, weird science Null Hypothesis has cracked the climate change problem. Less than a month into Richard Branson's five-year competition, Null Hypothesis will take its winning idea to Virgin Earth and walk away with a cool $25 million.
The solution to Branson's problem (not to mention our, global, problem) is closer to hand than we could ever have imagined.
It is, quite simply, stop breathing; or at least breathe less.
The average person takes 24,000 breaths a day, breathing in approximately 6g of carbon dioxide, but breathing out around 800g during the same time. Over a year, you personally will add a net 290kg of CO2 to the atmosphere, just by exhaling. Multiply that by a global population of 6.5 billion and it adds up to a criminal 1.
If we each merely cut out one breath in three, we could decrease the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere each year by a staggering 0.63 gigatonnes. That's 0.63 billion tonnes - the same effect as saving 5 million acres of land (an area the size of Wales) from deforestation, or recycling 192 million tonnes of waste instead of trashing it.
But we don't want to stop there.
Let's get really ruthless.
Perhaps the most carbon efficient solution would be to eliminate those members of the population taking the most breaths and therefore expelling the most carbon dioxide.
Intuitively, you might expect these to be the sorts of idle layabouts who wouldn't know what a treadmill was if it hit them in the face.
With their high resting heart rates and shallow, wheezing breaths, they must be the least environmentally sound.
But that's not the case. Being as there is no obvious difference between the metabolic rates of the honed and toned, and the squashy and sluggish, we all burn about the same amount of carbon whilst resting. However, all that time that the super-fitties among us spend exercising, they're guzzling extra oxygen and belching out tonnes of CO2.
When we undertake strenuous exercise our metabolic rate tends to increase by at least 50%. So during a 30-minute bout, we could be expelling an extra 8.
3g of carbon dioxide.
Perhaps that doesn't seem like much, but by our calculations, if we exercised as we were supposed to ? about 30 minutes, five times a week ? this would add up to another 1.3kg a year. Across the world population, that's a lung-busting 14 million tonnes of extra CO2 every year.
And just to make matters worse, your body continues to metabolise at a higher rate long after you cease exercising, pumping out increased levels of carbon dioxide for anything up to 36 hours.
Doctors Impey and Steer prepare to win the big prize in the Virgin Earth Challenge.
Doctors Impey and Steer get into training to receive their big winnings
So the key to reversing climate change and saving the planet is simple: do nothing. Absolutely nothing.
In an ideal world, we'd all just sit around keeping our breathing rates as low as possible, skipping the odd breath here and there just to help matters along. That way we'd all be minimizing our carbon output.
And there's an extra benefit to the global atmosphere.
As our enforced lethargy leads us to pile on the pounds, we'll act as carbon sinks ? tying up potentially dangerous atmospheric carbon (via plants and hopefully an animal or two) as ever-so-becoming fat deposits.
But, before you revel in the excuse to leave your trainers to gather dust, the amount of carbon dioxide you would save by not exercising is nothing compared to what you'd save by running somewhere instead of driving.
And one final thought: even if CO2 levels were to be stabilised quickly, global temperatures would continue to soar for years to come. So, even though we've helped solve Branson's challenge, in terms of seeing an effect on rising global temperatures ? don't hold your breath.
Author Null Hypothesis:
Null Hypothesis, The journal of unlikely science,wierd science, strange science has cracked Richard Branson's climate change earth challenge to reduce the carbon footprint.