The most recent maps of ozone-depletion show that the phenomenon is centered approximately .9 kilometers from the McMurdo station, at precisely the point at which exists the largest and perhaps oldest rookery of penguins in the world. These maps show, of course, that the ozone hole extends in all directions—down to the South Pole, up toward the nether regions of South America, etc.
Skeptics have written to us and asked, not always in the professional tone that is characteristic of true scientists, how the MJTT’s hypothesis stands up to this fact. One writer, purporting to have an affiliation with the McMurdo “beakers,” as the support personnel refer to the scientists at that station, asked how the MJTT accounts for the presence of the ozone hole at the aforementioned spots.
Disregarding the unkind, in fact sneering, tone of the email, we answer thus:
As for the South Pole, we hypothesize that a significant number of amateur trekkers to that illustrious spot begin their journeys from the McMurdo Station. Being typical American tourists, their pre-trek regimen includes a visit to the aforementioned huge rookery. That rookery, we have no doubt, is replete with penguin droppings, and any visit thereto involves treading on layers of dung that have been accumulating for millennia. As is the case with any animal dung, the penguin variety has adhesive properties. It sticks to boots. Thus it should surprise no one that, though there are no penguins at the South Pole, there is, given the tourist traffic between McMurdo and the South Pole, a significant amount of their vile and dangerous leavings at and around the latter spot.
Further study is needed, of course, to verify or disprove this hypothesis. But such empirical research is outside the scope and charter of the MJTT. We leave this investigation to the National Science Foundation (NSF).
As for the extension of the ozone hole toward South America, we need only refer to the much-decried breakup of the Antarctic ice pack, resulting in the creation of New-Jersey-sized icebergs, which have no place to go but north. Though the oft-cited reports of this catastrophic event are content to explain it by using the disputed canard of a general global warming, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that these mammoth icebergs were caused by millennia of penguin fecal activity; their northward drift might well, in turn, explain the expansion of the hole in the ozone layer in that direction.
This again is hypothesis. Assuming for the moment that there is something to it, and that the general hypothesis generated by the MJTT proves sound, we venture the following proposal to solve the very real problem of the depletion of the ozone layer.
If penguins are indeed the source of this environmental menace, the solution is simple: just as the elimination of mad cow disease can be effected by slaughtering the offending bovines, so the elimination of the ozone problem can be effected by slaughtering the offending penguins.
A drastic solution? Perhaps. But dire problems require just such measures. And there is legal precedent for this modest proposal. I refer, of course, to the American hunting laws. Let the American tourists who flock to Antarctica in quest of adventure be encouraged to purchase licenses to shoot the pests, setting the bag limit at, say, fifty per adult tourist per season. In addition, let there by a reverse bounty on each penguin bagged. In other words, charge the tourist, say, ten thousand dollars for each bird successfully slaughtered. The proceeds would go toward reducing the national debt, thus in effect killing two birds with a single stone.
We at MJTT believe that this proposal would enjoy support from two groups often thought to be political foes: the NRA and the Greens. As for the animal rights activists, we can only suggest that they might consider ways to change the diet of the penguins, making their droppings environmentally sound. Perhaps, for example, these stately birds might thrive on a diet of Purina cat chow, or even of deceased mad cows.