The butterfly effect isn't just a confusing mess of a movie about prison beatings and child molestation starring the guy from Punk'd, it's an actual scientific principal. Every day, seemingly insignificant things can make changes on a global scale.
6Termites Are Warming the Planet
If we said termites have a worldwide impact, you'd assume we're talking about eating buildings. And they do their share of damage (to the tune of about $2.5 billion a year) but their real impact is less obvious. Most of the planet's population of termites are living peacefully in massive colonies in more tropical regions (well, we guess they live peacefully, the other bugs may consider them assholes for all we know). They live in giant mounds, they look like either aliens have invaded and built mini skyscrapers, or the earth itself is sporting wood.
Figure 1.1: Earth-boner.
So how are these little guys changing the planet? Well...
Those giant mounds actually serve a greater purpose than just giving anteaters easy access to food. They are actually part of a complex HVAC system that termites use to regulate the temperature of their colonies and move gases in and out. Which gas is being emitted by the termites that requires a structure the size of a skyscraper to manage? It's Methane, also known as the almost-as-bad-as-CO2 contributor to Global Warming.
Fuck! Global warming again? But how in the hell can these tiny things emit enough of any gas for anybody to even notice?
Through sheer numbers. See, each of those mounds can hold up to two million termites. There are thought to be 250 trillion termites in the world (outnumbering humans 40,000-to-one), and that's one of the more conservative estimates.
250 trillion of these.
Imagine all of them together, farting out methane 24 hours a day. Experts think they're the second largest source of natural methane in the world, though some estimates think it's far more than that.
It's almost inspirational, if you think about it. That by working together, even the tiniest of us can combine our efforts and, uh, destroy a planet.