18 thoughts on “We Need A War On Termites”

  1. A fellow named Schwarz has made the following series of claims, in contradiction to the conventional wisdom:

    1. 98% of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere originated in volcanoes, not due to human activity
    2. of that carbon dioxide that has entered the Earth’s atmosphere due to human activity, over 90% of that is a result of Third World cooking fires, not Westerners driving automobiles
    3. of that carbon dioxide that enters the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of use of fossil fuels in industry, such as for power generation, 70%+ is from China–more than all the rest of the industrialized world combined
    4. molecule for molecule, water vapor molecules absorb more than ten times as much infrared energy as carbon dioxide molecules do, and over a much wider area of the electromagnetic spectrum–and while carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are measured in parts per million, water vapor is in percentage points
    5. conclusion: environmentalists who claim that Americans driving automobiles are destroying the world are selling you a bill of goods; some are sincere, some know that they’re selling a big lie, but in all instances the math doesn’t add up and their claims are, as they say, a crock

  2. I’m skeptical of CAGW, but I’m also skeptical of these claims about termites. Some warmists are quick to point out that termites don’t emit CO2, but methane… and not as much methane as earlier estimates… and oh well yrs they do emit CO2 but it’s *good* CO2 from metabolizing carbon-neutral biomass, doncha know, and humans are still evil.

    Link: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080505102030AAYTz9L

    EPA ref that pooh-poohs CO2 emissions:

    1982 Science mag article:

    ermites may emit large quantities of methane, carbon dioxide, and molecular hydrogen into the atmosphere. Global annual emissions calculated from laboratory measurements could reach 1.5 x 1014 grams of methane and 5 x 1016 grams of carbon dioxide. As much as 2 x 1014 grams of molecular hydrogen may also be produced. Field measurements of methane emissions from two termite nests in Guatemala corroborated the laboratory results. The largest emissions should occur in tropical areas disturbed by human activities.

    IPCC AR4 gives human fossil fuel emissions as 29 gigaton/yr, or 2.9e16 g/yr, about 60% of termites. Methane has 34-86x the global warming potential of CO2, so the smaller amount of CH4 is roughly equal to 1.3e16 g/yr of CO2.

    So it seems that yes, termites do outstrip human warming by a factor of about 2.

  3. Even if CO2 is causing AGW, CO2 emissions are only problematic if they come from fossil fuels, or some other source where the carbon has been sequestered. Methane might be more of a problem. But I wonder how good our estimates are for termite emissions.

    1. While trees and lumber may not sequester as much carbon as coal or oil, to claim that termites are not releasing “sequestered” carbon is preposterous. What is a termite’s diet? Cellulosic fibers.

  4. While the idea that we are the major cause is lunacy, so is the idea that we don’t have some effect on the planet. BTW, he numbers in this story don’t line up well. In some places the article says termites produce twice as much CO2 as we do and in other places it says ten times. So termites produce 40% of all CO2 annually? Not buying it.

    No one wants to really talk about the truth of the matter because, well, it’s boring. Nothing to exciting. And that is the real root of the problem.

  5. Termites product CO2 from biomass. Production of that biomass pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere. So unless termites are causing a net reduction in the amount of biomass in the world, they (and all other means of converting biomass to CO2) cannot be a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere.

    Viewed another way: termites are not introducing new carbon atoms to the biosphere. Fossil fuel combustion, on the other hand, is taking carbon atoms that were stored away underground and returning them to the atmosphere.

      1. Not sure what “key to understanding” is meaning there, but yes removing carbon atoms by sequestering biomass (or, some carbon-containin compound obtained from biomass) could compensate for release of carbon atoms by fossil fuel combustion. The scale of storage would have to be very large, though, so this isn’t terribly practical. Biomass farming, like any kind of farming, would be disruptive of natural ecosystems.

      2. Crypto: 0

        As-Received-By: OOB shipboard ad hoc

        Language-Path: Arbwyth->Trade 24->Cherguelen->Triskweline, SjK units

        From: Twirlip of the Mists

        Subject: Blighter Coal Threat

        Keywords: Hexagonal Planarity as the key insight

        I haven’t had a chance to see the famous video from Straumli Realm, except as an evocation. (My only gateway onto the Net is very expensive.) Is it true that coal is packed hexagonal planes? I wasn’t sure from the evocation. If this coal has stacked planes of hexagons, then I think there is an easy explanation for


        1. [Digest Mode]

          Sandor at the Zoo: “Terran termites have three pairs of legs.”

          Twirlip: “Ah. Ken Anthony, hexapodia is the key insight.”

          Alliance for the defense: “Death to Vermin.”

      1. That depends on quite a few things. But, in general, the younger the tree that the wood came from the better. If you’re burning parts of a 500-year-old oak then that’s probably worse (from an environmentalist point of view) than burning a 20-year-old softwood tree – particularly if the latter tree came from a plantation specifically established for the purpose.

        Of course, if the oak had to come down anyway then it isn’t quite so bad burning it. And lastly, IMHO the only wood that should be burned (apart from that specifically grown for the purpose) is sawdust and offcuts useless for any other purpose.

        (Of course, if many people burned wood then the air in many cities would be rather poor, but that’s another discussion.)

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