7 Serious Problems That Had Hilarious Cartoon Solutions
As weird monkeys with too much imagination, we humans generally like some outside-the-box thinking. Whether it's a time-saving lifehack or a crazy new potato chip flavor, we're all about being creative and doing the unexpected. However, when it comes to solving big issues, we tend to be more reserved, carefully weighing options and making rational decisions. Not everyone, though. Let us tip our hats to the wonderfully insane people who dreamed up terrifyingly cartoon-like solutions to very serious problems.
Guam Targeted An Invasive Snake Species By Dive-Bombing Them With Poisoned Mouse Assassins
Sometime during World War II, a cargo ship arrived in one of Guam's ports. But unbeknownst to anyone at the time, a host of brown tree snakes had stowed away on the vessel, and it slipped the snakes into the island like a reptilian STD. And while everyone was a bit preoccupied with the ongoing world war, the snakes multiplied. Exponentially.
Since Guam has no indigenous snakes, this invader from Australia had zero competition for groceries. As a result, the brown tree snake has spent the last half century severely depleting several of Guam's native species. It wasn't long before the USDA and EPA reached the same conclusion: The snake had to go. But besides shipping in a trained army of mongooses, poison would be the only solution. But how do you poison an entire species out of a region without seriously damaging the other fauna and flora in the process? Three words: skydiving mice assassins.
As it turns out, acetaminophen (better known as Tylenol) does more than relieve pain and lower your fever; it's a tailor-made poison for snakes. The drug prevents their blood from carrying oxygen, and despite looking like demon spawn from hell, brown tree snakes need oxygen to live just like the rest of us. When it came to finding a way to deliver the acetaminophen to snakes quick enough that there would still be some birds left, the people of Guam came up with an ingenious solution: They stuffed the acetaminophen inside dead mice and sent them parachuting into the treetops.
The setup is fairly simple. A dead mouse is stuffed with acetaminophen and attached to a small piece of cardboard and streamer. This tiny parachute is then dropped from a helicopter and gets entangled in the trees. By keeping the mice up in the trees rather than on the forest floor, scientists are able to get the poison directly to the tree snakes, who will never realize that their new Amazon mice delivery service is actually a lethal trap.
While the teeny paratroopers won't eradicate the snakes entirely, they have been helpful in keeping the population under control. Authorities are also using snake traps, snake-sniffing dogs, and snake hunters to reduce the number of snakes slithering around the island. Still, we salute the service and sacrifice made by American's ittiest troops.
The Fastest Way To Clean Up A Beached Whale
Beached whales are one of the saddest sights in the world, and watching is all we can do while these wriggling behemoths die as their lack of legs comes around to kick them in the blowhole. Even today, we still have no idea of why these oceanic titans toss themselves on our beaches. However, we do have a few ideas on how to get them off.
In 1970, an enormous whale carcass washed up near Florence, Oregon. This offered a unique challenge to officials: How do you get rid of eight tons of rotting whale? Sure, they could have let nature take its course, but nobody was that keen on spending the next few years going to the beach surrounded by vomit-inducing stench and swimming in whale runoff.
There was talk of burying it, burning it, or cutting it up, but ultimately, a far more respectful and elegant solution was offered: shoving dynamite in the corpse's mouth and blowing it to kingdom come. Engineers figured, "Pieces of blubber [would] scatter into the water, [and] what was left would be cleaned up by seagulls and crabs." And you know it's a good plan when you're counting on crabs to do all the heavy lifting for you.
Of course, because the city would be using live explosives on public ground, the event attracted a lot of onlookers. Watching a whale explode was a lot more entertaining than wearing jeans and listening to Led Zeppelin, or whatever it was '70s folk did for fun. For safety's sake, bystanders were told to stay at least a quarter of a mile away from the blast zone. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a drastic underestimation, and everyone and everything within a half mile or so got showered with rank whale.
Almost miraculously, no one got hurt by the literal ton of corpse shrapnel that shot through the sky. A piece of blubber the size of a coffee table flattened a car, while people and other vehicles were pelted with smaller bits. "Blubber is so dense that a piece as big as the tip of your finger can be like a bullet and kill you," an onsite reporter later admitted, meaning the city did the marine biology equivalent of throwing a grenade into an ammo depot and inviting everyone to come and watch.
But despite the massive explosion, destroyed cars, and blubber-encrusted bystanders, the bulk of the carcass didn't even budge. Ultimately, crews buried the remaining chunks of whale, an option they probably should have gone with from the start.
Ecologists Fixed The Rainforest With 12,000 Tons Of Orange Peels
Industrial waste tends to have a bad reputation. Many large plants and factories have a habit of polluting soil and water with disgusting runoff, killing plant life and giving fish all matter of unappetizing mutations. However, there is one industry whose waste is achieving the exact opposite, using its detritus to heal the rainforest. We speak, of course, of the orange juice industry.
In 1997, two ecologists entered into an unlikely partnership with Costa Rican OJ manufacturer Del Oro with the intent to kill two birds with one USFWS-licensed stone. It was the scientists' theory that the pulp and peels of oranges could help them reforest the barren area of a national park, so they wished to use the company's squeezed oranges in their experiment. In return, the company had a free and ethical place to dump all of its citrus-y waste.
Scientists designated a massive dump zone within the park, an area where the soil was too depleted for the tropical forest to rebound naturally. One thousand truckloads and some 12,000 metric tons of orange peels later, the result was a rather orange but very pleasant-smelling field.
However, a jealous rival fruit company decided that all this beneficial waste management was standing in the way of something much more important: greed. Ticofrut filed a lawsuit, alleging that the peels had not only "defiled a national park," but also created an unfair market advantage for one of its competitors. After a successful smear campaign, the Supreme Court ordered the project to be shut down. The ecologists were forced off the land, and Del Oro had to go back to dumping their waste elsewhere. But the orange peels remained, and nature became unstoppable.
In 2013, after 15 years of obscurity, a grad student from Princeton stumbled upon the lost orange peel dump as a possible research venue. When researchers finally arrived at the site, they found it unrecognizable. Compared to untreated control fields, they found the orange peel areas had "Richer soil, more tree biomass, greater tree-species richness, and greater forest canopy closure." Given the "stunning" difference between the fertilized and unfertilized areas, they are hoping their findings will convince other nations to accept this more "appealing" (sorry) method of recycling.
Relocating Beavers By Dropping Them Out Of Airplanes
Back in 1948, Idaho's Department of Fish and Game had a bit of a beaver problem. An uneven population had developed throughout the state, and since beavers live to build dams and route water like little fuzzy engineers, this meant some areas got too much water while others got too little. Also, they really wanted to build some houses in one heavily beavered area, which meant it was time to start some evictions. Fortunately, instead of killing them, officials decided on a much more humane alternative: grabbing them, shoving them into boxes, and kicking them out of flying planes.
They figured they could fix their beaver imbalance by relocating 76 beavers to remote, underpopulated areas, but they hit a bit of a snag. The underpopulated areas in question were so rural that they were simply inaccessible by road. They tried getting the beavers there by horse and mule, but it turned out that neither animal was willing to travel the wild with a bunch of bucktoothed maniacs strapped to their backs.
But Idaho Fish and Game had two things no other governmental departments had: a lack of common sense and a surplus of parachutes from World War II. A very smart man named Elmo Heter designed a special wooden box that would hold a beaver while it was sailing through the air and then open when it hit the ground.
Numerous Cities Solved Cop Shortages With Cardboard Cutouts
When it comes to following the law, there's nothing like a siren and flashing lights to make people behave. That's why police want to be as visible as possible; their mere presence is enough to send crime plummeting like it's been dropped from a rooftop by Batman. But since police officers can't be everywhere at once, a number of cities around the world are now fighting crime with the power of cardboard. That's right, the cop on the corner may in fact be a life-size facsimile.
In Bangalore, India, traffic is so notoriously bad that it's not unusual for people to up and drive the wrong way. Realizing that no good will come of this, police now have fake cops posted at three busy intersections. As the police commissioner states: "The tendency among road users is that whenever they see there is no traffic policemen at any stretch of the road, they try to violate traffic rules." So now, these cardboard prints of mustachioed Bangalore cops take the beats no one else will, staring angrily into traffic and signaling that any wrong-way driver should turn the hell around.
Meanwhile, in Fife, Scotland, their first Scottish-Arborean police officer has already become a bit of a celebrity. "Pop-up Bob" patrols streets with his radar gun in an attempt to deter speeding. He moves to a new location every hour, because even cardboard people need a change of scenery every now and then.
But the most realistic cardboard cop has to be the one guarding a train station in Boston. That's because it's the cardboard twin of a real beat cop, Officer David Silen. Since putting up a cutout of this Transit Police officer, the number of monthly bicycle thefts at Alewife Station has decreased from five to one. It goes to show that even a bit of thick paper with a badge painted on is enough for most punks to ask themselves how lucky they are.
The Rural U.S. Rigged A Phone Network Through Barbed Wire Fences
By the late 1800s, most people in urban areas could enjoy the magic and convenience of the Bell Telephone system. But while anyone could pick up a telephonic device at their local general store, having access to telephone lines was another story altogether. While the cities were all hooked up, many rural and untamed parts of the country were getting fed up with still having to walk 70 miles to chat with a neighbor. Eventually, some enterprising farmers decided to take matters into their own hands and created an independent phone network some three million households strong.
How did they do it? Some smartypants realized that while they had no telephone wire, they had plenty of barbed wire to go around -- around their fields, to be specific. Turns out, all metal wire is pretty much the same for these purposes, and the stuff used to keep people at a distance could also keep them connected. To join these networks, all you had to do was buy a phone from Sears Roebuck and clip it to your fence, as long as you didn't mind having all your cows listening in on your conversations.
The one major difference between the official networks and their barbed wire counterparts was that these pirate networks had no switchboard, so all the phones used the same line. So when these rural communities got connected, they did so with nothing but a prickling conscience to stop someone from listening in on a neighbor's calls. Ironic, really, given that barbed wire tends to be used to get rid of snoopers, not make it easier for them.
Paris Unclogged Its Sewers With Giant Balls Of Iron
Have you told your toilet how much you love it today? You should. Toilets are still the pinnacle of human achievement, a vast network of pipes and porcelain keeping homes shit-free. But even these miracles are not without flaws. Whenever a toilet gets clogged, we curse our diet, grit our teeth, and grab a plunger. But what happens when sewers get backed up? Did old-timey people even have plungers big enough to defeat such barricades of poop?
In the 1850s, the good people of Paris started cleaning their sewers using a method that can only be described as "epic." You see, they got these enormous iron balls, 10-15 feet in diameter, and then applied velocity. The balls were lifted and sent hurtling through sewer pipes like bowling balls of the gods, clearing any blockages with speed and ferocity. Called boules de curage or "balls of courage," these poop torpedoes can today be seen in person at the Paris Sewer Museum, which we assume has a less-than-successful gift shop.
Though the sewers have been modernized in the intervening years, the balls are occasionally taken out of retirement and sent down the chute for a crap roundup. After all, what sanitation worker wouldn't jump on the opportunity to play pinball with an entire city?
Tell your toilet how much you really love it with hearts on the toilet paper. Everyone will think it's adorable and not weird at all.
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For more check out 5 Silly Ideas That Actually Solved Serious Problems and 11 Problems Solved By Blowing Things Up.
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