In search of ponies: Bunnies have hand in heating up Earth

Invariably, the issue of weird weather comes up these days, especially with record temperatures set on a regular basis and extreme phenomenon rising to the top of headlines fairly often.

Global warming is the answer the experts almost always arrive at — melting ice caps at the hands of humans who didn't heed the warnings to reduce their carbon footprint.

And you almost can't help but entertain a little, "Uh oh, could they have been right?" thought when you step outside and realize it's sweltering in early spring with no rain in sight. Then it dawns on you that maybe it's time to hang our heads in shame because no matter how many times we pack our groceries in recycled cloth bags, it won't make ice in Antarctica.

Then again, maybe scientists have been too quick to judge, too quick to lay blame on humans.

Who else though, you might ask, could possibly raise the Earth's temperature but the all-powerful humanoid?

Bunnies.

Yep, that's right, fuzzy, cottontail, long-eared bunny wabbits.

What better way to disguise nefarious world warming and ice cap melting than behind a set of velvety ears, long-lashed doe eyes and a cute button nose. And speaking of velvety ears, there's more to those funnels on top of their fuzzy noggins than meets the eye.

Sure, they act as silky accessories and even receive sounds, but what they really are is radiators.

Not only do those long ears radiate heat and direct it out through convection, they can move as much as 100 percent of a rabbit's body heat. The radiator even comes with a built in thermostat. When the rabbit's body temperature exceeds air temperature, the heat kicks on, according to a 1970's study of jackrabbit's ears conducted at the University of Wisconsin (interesting reading involving the amputated ears of Nevada road kill and wind tunnels for those who are so inclined.)

But there's the catch. Running at a healthy internal body temperature of up to 103, there aren't very many occasions when the rabbit radiator shuts off.

If they kept it all to themselves it probably wouldn't even be noticeable, but rabbits produce a good bit of heat — actually approximately 10 times the amount of body heat produced by an elephant.

Put a bunch of rabbits together, and the temperature of a room goes up.

Case in point, for years gardening enthusiasts have used them in place of man-made radiators, housing rabbits in greenhouses to keep the plants warm.

Of course pinning down the exact number of rabbits in the world would be near impossible, but in 2000, the USDA estimated 9.7 million domesticated rabbits in the U.S. alone, and since that's only one country, and doesn't even count wild rabbits, it's safe to assume there are a hare more in the world (couldn't resist.)

So, hypothetically, if there were, say, 1 billion on the planet, and they put out approximately 8 BTUs of heat (while at rest) as some estimate, that would account for 8 billion BTUs per hour. Now give them a couple years of exceptionally high reproduction cycles, and the greenhouse gets hotter.

Recent studies show they aren't handling the heat any better than the rest of us.

Actually, it seems they're faring worse, with at least five species identified by conservationists as being in dire straights if things don't change. From snowshoe hares that no longer turn from white to brown making them an easy target, to seaside rabbits that will lose their habitats and be wiped out if water levels rise even so much as nine-tenths of an inch, with the hotseat they're in, it makes it a little hard to blame global warming on the bunnies.

Oh well, it was worth a shot.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at:insearchofponies@gmail.com or on the web at: www.insearchofponies.blogspot.com

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