I was going to hop on the bandwagon the other day and do the “now global warming is going to kill lizards” or something on that order, but everyone else beat me to the punch, so I didn’t bother. It has been on the back of my mind but I’ve been otherwise occupied. When I came across this item from the Daily Mail titled “Lizards ‘face extinction as global warming forces them to stay in the shade,” that got me thinking about how silly the whole premise is, which prompted this post. The Daily Mail starts out with.
Lizards are in danger of dying out on a large scale as rising global temperatures force them to spend more time staying cool in the shade and less time tending to basic needs like eating and mating.
If the planet continues to heat up at current rates, 20 per cent of all lizard species could become extinct by 2080, scientists warned in a research paper published yesterday.
Scientist Barry Sinervo, from the University of California, Santa Cruz, said: ‘The numbers are actually pretty scary.’
My initial questions/responses to the above, in order are:
- Don’t most lizards live in desert and tropical regions that are hot? I don’t remember seeing anyone mentioning lizards jumping around at the North Pole.
- Don’t they normally stay in the shade when it’s too hot?
- Can they only mate and eat in the sun?
- What heat? There’s been little to no warming for the previous 15 years.
- Weren’t there dead iguanas all over Florida as they result of last winters extreme cold? Being cold-blooded, isn’t the cold worse for them than heat?
- 20% extinct by 2080? Reminds me of no glaciers in the Himalayas by 2035.
- Research paper? OK, no doubt not peer-reviewed.
- “Scary?” Here we go with another global warming terror-athon.
The scare-mongering gets even more shrill. I mean you can’t have an article about global warming without trying to scare the crap out of everyone can you?
He added: ‘We’ve got to try to limit climate change impacts right now or we are sending a whole bunch of species into oblivion.’
A mass extinction of lizards, which eat insects and are eaten by birds, could have devastating effects up and down the food chain, but the extent is difficult to predict.
Oh? So now it’s going to cause a chain-reaction that’s going to be “devastating”. It gets better, below we get a statement of the silly combined with the already obvious.
Dr Sinervo made models of lizards with thermal monitors and left them in the searing sun of southern Mexico to measure how the reptiles would react to temperatures at different altitudes. (So these little model lizards got up and moved into the shade when it was too hot? Moved into the sun when too cold? Ate? Mated? What did they have? Baby plastic lizards?)
Lizards bask in the sun not to relax but for self-preservation. As ‘ectotherms’ they depend on the external environment to control their body temperature. Unlike mammals, when the reptiles overheat they cannot sweat or pant and they have to retreat to the shade or burrow under a rock to cool down. (Is this one of the answers from Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? It’s like duh!)
This biological quirk has already led to the extinction of 5 per cent of lizard populations around the world, Dr Sinervo said, as the creatures spend more time scrambling to find shade and less time doing what they need to do to survive. (So, you’re saying they can’t do anything unless it’s in the sun?)
He’s actually watched “models” that don’t move unless someone picks them up! Does he have a Ken and Barbie or GI Joe? Has he ever actually sat around watching what real lizards do world-wide to see if they’re all really spending more time in the shade? I’d seriously doubt it. Moreover, do they actually think lizards only hunt, eat, mate on top of warm rocks in the sun at exactly the right temperature? Like they can’t do all this in the shade when it’s too hot during mid-day, or at night? Based upon what he’s saying he’s acting like lizards only do this stuff at high noon every day and the rest of the time they’re hiding out under rocks or in caves or looking for a rock or a cave. Silly!
They did study lizards, but only in one place in Mexico. Not very reflective of what’s going on globally is it? Again we seem to get a statement of the obvious.
Elizabeth Bastiaans, a doctoral student in Dr Sinervo’s lab, started studying lizards in a wilderness outside Mexico City near the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan where tourists huff and puff up hundreds of stairs in the blazing sun. (Has to be “blazing” more drama you know).
‘I’ve been out there doing a lot of sampling over the past few years and you see the lizards in the morning and you see them in the evening. But in the hottest part of day, it’s just too hot, you don’t see them at all,’ Ms Bastiaans said. (So the lizards must be smart enough to find shade when it’s hot at mid-day while you run around out in the “blazing” sun all day roasting? I hope you have some SPF 1000 lotion).
Funny they have lizards in Death Valley, too, one of the hottest, driest places on Earth, (not to mention the Sahara, Gobi, etc), yet they manage to adapt, reproduce and survive. I hope they don’t hear about global warming or it may be all over for them, because they’ll die of fright when they hear about this! (Or, perhaps laugh themselves to death).
Thinking more about lizards, how long they’ve been around? What temperatures have they survived in the past?
I found this article on Science Daily titled The Oldest Gecko Fossil Ever Found. Know what? That fossil is about 100 million years old! I found an article here on what is perhaps the first lizard, found in Scotland, estimated to be 340 million year old. What this establishes is that lizards have been around a long time and they’ve survived all the temperature swings, the asteroid collision 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs, volcanic eruptions, etc. The little buggers are still with us in spite of it all.
Why do I mention this? Well, since temperature from global warming is supposedly going to cause all these problems for the lizards I wondered what kind of temperatures they’ve survived for the past 340 million years since lizard #1 appeard. As you can see per the below graph, they’ve survived some pretty good swings. 340 million years ago when lizard #1 appeared, it was about 20 degrees Celsius, 100,000 years ago we had Gecko and it was about 21 degrees Celsius. From what I can pickup the Earth’s average temperature now is between 13 to 17 degrees Celsius depending upon who you believe.
If you take the lowest of 13 degrees Celsius as current, we’re 8 degrees Celsius lower than the highest of 21 degrees, if you take the highest of 17 degrees Celsius, we’re still 4 degrees Celsius below the high that lizards have survived.
I really have to ask why all the drama and hysterics about lizards? They’ve been around a lot longer than us, they’ve survived higher temperatures (not to mention all the ice ages!), so what’s the problem? They need funding in Santa Cruz to keep them in pot?
Source: Daily Mail Online