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Termites emit ten times more CO2 than humans. Should we cap-and-tax them?

By Edmund Contoski, Liberty Unbound

"Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen."

— Sir John Houghton, first chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and lead editor of its first three reports.

During the 20th century, the earth warmed 0.6 degree Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit), but that warming has been wiped out in a single year with a drop of 0.63 degree C. (1.13 F.) in 2007. A single year does not constitute a trend reversal, but the magnitude of that temperature drop — equal to 100 years of warming — is noteworthy. Of course, it can also be argued that a mere 0.6 degree warming in a century is so tiny it should never have been considered a cause for alarm in the first place. But then how could the idea of global warming be sold to the public? In any case, global cooling has been evident for more than a single year. Global temperature has declined since 1998. Meanwhile, atmospheric carbon dioxide has gone in the other direction, increasing 15–20%. This divergence casts doubt on the validity of the greenhouse hypothesis, but that hasn't discouraged the global warming advocates. They have long been ignoring far greater evidence that the basic assumption of greenhouse warming from increases in carbon dioxide is false.

Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide were not significant before worldwide industrialization began in the 1940s. They have increased steadily since. Over 80% of the 20th century's carbon dioxide increase occurred after 1940 — but most of the century's temperature increase occurred before 1940! From 1940 until the mid-1970s, the climate also failed to behave according to the greenhouse hypothesis, as carbon dioxide was strongly increasing while global temperatures cooled. This cooling led to countless scare stories in the media about a new ice age commencing.

In the last 1.6 million years there have been 63 alternations between warm and cold climates, and no indication that any of them were caused by changes in carbon dioxide levels. A recent study of a much longer period (600 million years) shows — without exception — that temperature changes precede changes in carbon dioxide levels, not the other way around. As the earth warms, the oceans yield more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, because warmer water cannot hold as much carbon dioxide as colder water.

The public has been led to believe that increased carbon dioxide from human activities is causing a greenhouse effect that is heating the planet. But carbon dioxide comprises only 0.035% of our atmosphere and is a very weak greenhouse gas. Although it is widely blamed for greenhouse warming, it is not the only greenhouse gas, or even the most important. Water vapor is a strong greenhouse gas and accounts for at least 95% of any greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide accounts for only about 3%, with the remainder due to methane and several other gases.

Not only is carbon dioxide's total greenhouse effect puny, mankind's contribution to it is minuscule. The overwhelming majority (97%) of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere comes from nature, not from man. Volcanoes, swamps, rice paddies, fallen leaves, and even insects and bacteria produce carbon dioxide, as well as methane. According to the journal Science (Nov. 5, 1982), termites alone emit ten times more carbon dioxide than all the factories and automobiles in the world. Natural wetlands emit more greenhouse gases than all human activities combined. (If greenhouse warming is such a problem, why are we trying to save all the wetlands?) Geothermal activity in Yellowstone National Park emits ten times the carbon dioxide of a midsized coal-burning power plant, and volcanoes emit hundreds of times more. In fact, our atmosphere's composition is primarily the result of volcanic activity. There are about 100 active volcanoes today, mostly in remote locations, and we're living in a period of relatively low volcanic activity. There have been times when volcanic activity was ten times greater than in modern times. But by far the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions is the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It produces 72% of the earth's emissions of carbon dioxide, and the rest of the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, and the other oceans also contribute. The human contribution is overshadowed by these far larger sources of carbon dioxide. Combining the factors of water vapor and nature's production of carbon dioxide, we see that 99.8% of any greenhouse effect has nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions from human activity. So how much effect could regulating the tiny remainder have upon world climate, even if carbon dioxide determined climate?

Since carbon dioxide is a very weak greenhouse gas, computer models predicting environmental catastrophe depend on the small amount of warming from carbon dioxide being amplified by increased evaporation of water. But in the many documented periods of higher carbon dioxide, even during much warmer climate periods, that never happened. During the time of the dinosaurs, the carbon dioxide levels were 300–500% greater than today. Five hundred million years ago, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 15–20 times what it is today. Yet the catastrophic water-vapor amplification of carbon dioxide warming never occurred. Today we're told catastrophic warming will result if carbon dioxide doubles. But during the Ordovician Period, the carbon dioxide level was 12 times what it is today, and the earth was in an Ice Age. That's exactly opposite to the "runaway" warming that computer models predict should occur. Clearly the models are wrong; they depend upon an assumption of amplification that is contrary to the climate record of millions of years. There is no reason to trust the computer predictions — or base public policies on them. Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, has stated, "You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."

There are other examples where the computer models fail to agree with reality. According to the greenhouse hypothesis, the warming should occur equally during day and night. But most of the warming that has been observed has occurred at night, thus falsifying the models.

All of the models agree — for sound theoretical reasons — that warming from a greenhouse effect must be 2–3 times greater in the lower atmosphere than at the earth's surface. This is not happening. Both satellites and weather balloons show slightly greater warming at the surface. These atmospheric temperature measurements furnish direct, unequivocal evidence that whatever warming has occurred is not from the greenhouse effect.

Everyone knows the sun heats the earth, but the public is generally unaware that the sun's heat is not uniform. Solar radiation is affected by disturbances on the surface of the sun, called "sunspots," which correspond to the sun's 11-year magnetic cycle. There are also several solar cycles of longer duration. Superimposed, these cycles might augment or cancel each other. There are also periods when sunspots "crash," or almost disappear, which can lead to dramatic cooling of the earth for several decades. This is what happened 400 years ago during the Maunder Minimum, which was the coldest part of the Little Ice Age. During one 30-year period during the Maunder Minimum only about 50 sunspots were observed, compared to a typical 40–50 thousand.

Sunspots have now virtually vanished. You can check out pictures of the sun day after day after day for the last few years here. Very few show more than one sunspot and many show none. We are currently at a solar minimum, awaiting the start of the next solar cycle. If sunspot activity does not pick up soon, we could be in for some seriously cold climate. The jury is still out on sunspot numbers.

In any case, some climate scientists believe the length of past solar cycles points to a cool phase in this century. Professor Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia, believes a slow decline in temperatures will begin as early as 2012–15 and will lead to a deep freeze in 2050–60 that will last about 50 years. Climatologist Tim Patterson thinks that by 2020 the sun will be starting its weakest 11-year sunspot cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on earth. He says, "If we're to have even a medium-sized solar minimum, we could be looking at a lot more bad effects than 'global warming' would have had."

The global warming advocates make all sorts of false claims about dire consequences of global warming. They claim it will result in the spread of malaria, food shortages, more human deaths, more violent weather, and a loss of biological diversity through the extinction of species. All untrue. The largest number of species — the greatest biological diversity — is in the tropics. As you move away from the equator, you find fewer and fewer species, until you reach the earth's poles, where there is zero diversity because nothing can live there.

Agricultural productivity is also reduced by cold climate, not a warmer one. That's why Siberia and Alaska are not noted for agricultural abundance. A warmer climate would mean longer growing seasons and would make agriculture possible in areas where it isn't today. And there are at least 300 studies showing plants and forests grow faster and more luxuriantly under conditions of increased carbon dioxide.

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