The Wasatch Behind: Did you hear about this?
Last week the Office of Governmental Reports on the Environment (OGRE) released a top-secret report to selected members of congress. The report was the summary of a 10 year study conducted by the Soil and Fungus Division (SFD) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report was considered too alarming to be released to the general public, but Uncle Spud was able to get a copy through the Freedom of Information Act (FIA), after reading rumors about it in Biometric Science, the journal of human biology on a base 10 system.
The report was a study of a substance known as cryptobiotic soil, a dark, organic stain that mysteriously appears on the ground in the desert country of the American southwest. The substance was first brought to public attention when environmental groups began using it as a reason for closing public lands. Over the past 30 years many thousands of acres of public domain have been closed and dozens of construction projects halted in an attempt to preserve the organic mass.
But now, after a comprehensive study by government scientists, the conclusions of the SFD are alarming. It has been determined that cryptobiotic soil is actually an alien life form, a noxious fungus that may have been introduced here by meteors or possibly from discarded old moon rocks following the Apollo space missions of the 1970s. Scientists have been tracking the fungus to determine its rate of growth, and some say we may have only 10 years before the foreign biomass threatens life as we know it on this planet.
"This is a much bigger threat than global warming," said Dr. Bugrah Andaharr, chief environmental scientist at the government's top-secret and very exclusive Los Amourous Amigos laboratory in New Mexico.
The EPA is pressuring congress to act immediately on the recommendations of the SFD. The scientific study group has listed a 10 point emergency action plan they say is necessary to stop the spread of this toxic material.
"There is no time to waste," said Irene Jones McKinney, deputy chief of staff of the government's Soil Testing Division (STD) in Albuquerque. The facility is one of several STDs maintained by government workers.
The 10 points recommended by the study are:
Anyone who has had contact with cryptobiotic soil in the last 20 years should be checked by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for signs of aging.
People should avoid direct contact with cryptobiotic soil. All public lands should be closed to outdoor activities that put people close to the ground where the risk is greatest; things like backpacking and mountain biking.
All public lands should be open only for motorized recreation. ATVs, dune buggies and jeeps keep people above the unhealthy dirt. Scientists have reached consensus on this.
Those venturing into the backcountry should do so in large groups in large sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to minimize traffic and stir up less dust.
Government agencies should use every effort to eradicate cryptobiotic soil immediately. Emergency funding could come from cuts in wilderness study programs and BLM staffing.
The government should immediately begin a program of opening thousands of new roads into wilderness areas to allow better access for the eradication of cryptobiotic soils.
Since crude oil is the only known fungicide that is effective in killing cryptobiotic soils, the government should immediately begin an emergency drilling program to find more of the stuff.
To recoup some of the costs, the government should sell crypto-credits to anyone wishing to use the public lands. Crypto-credits would be much like carbon-credits, except that people would know right up front that the money would be wasted by the government.
Al Gore should produce a movie for school children entitled An Inconvenient Fungus to educate kids about the horrors of hiking in the wilderness.
Happy April Fools Day.