Archive for Thursday, May 15, 2008

Polar bears to be protected species

May 15, 2008

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A polar bear watches a whaling crew offshore near Barrow, Alaska, in this May 2006 file photo provided by Mary Sage. Polar bears were declared a threatened species by the Interior Department on Wednesday.

A polar bear watches a whaling crew offshore near Barrow, Alaska, in this May 2006 file photo provided by Mary Sage. Polar bears were declared a threatened species by the Interior Department on Wednesday.

— The Interior Department declared the polar bear a threatened species Wednesday because of the loss of Arctic sea ice but also cautioned the decision should not be viewed as a path to address global warming.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne cited dramatic declines in sea ice over the last three decades and projections of continued losses, meaning, he said, that the polar bear is a species likely to be in danger of extinction in the near future.

But Kempthorne said it would be "wholly inappropriate" to use the protection of the bear to reduce greenhouse gases, or to broadly address climate change.

The Endangered Species Act "is not the right tool to set U.S. climate policy," said Kempthorne, reflecting a view recently expressed by President Bush.

The department outlined a set of administrative actions and limits to how it planned to protect the bear with its new status so that it would not have wide-ranging adverse impact on economic activities from building power plants to oil and gas exploration.

"This listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting," said Kempthorne.

Kempthorne, at a news conference, was armed with slides and charts showing the dramatic decline in sea ice over the last 30 years and projections that the melting of ice - a key habitat for the bear - would continue and may even quicken.

He cited conclusions by department scientists that sea ice loss will likely result in two-thirds of the polar bears disappearing by mid-century. Studies last year by the U.S. Geological Survey suggested 15,000 bears - of an estimated 25,000 in the wild - would be lost in coming decades with those in the western Hudson Bay area of Alaska and Canada under the greatest stress.

But when asked how the bear will be afforded greater protection, Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had difficulty coming up with examples. Better management of bear habitat on shore and making sure bears aren't threatened by people including hunters, more studies on bear population trends and their feeding habits were among the areas mentioned.

"I don't want to prejudge recommendations for (bear) management," said Hall, whose agency administers the Endangered Species Act.

Environmentalists were already mapping out plans to file lawsuits challenging the restrictive measures outlined by Kempthorne.

"They're trying to make this a threatened listing in name only with no change in today's impacts and that's not going to fly," said Jamie Rappaport Clark of Defenders of Wildlife and a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"But Kempthorne said it would be "wholly inappropriate" to use the protection of the bear to reduce greenhouse gases, or to broadly address climate change."Which means that actually doing anything about it will be left to the next administration. But why should we expect anything but incompetence from BushCo?

Joe Hyde 7 years, 1 month ago

At least Sec. Kempthorne has signed off on acknowledging the reality -- that the polar bear's critical habitat (arctic ice pack) is rapidly disappearing due to polar cap melting. Too bad so many sleepless nights passed while "Denial Incorporated" (the Bush administration) screwed up the intellectual courage to let the truth of climate change seep into their strategic planning.

gr 7 years, 1 month ago

"Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had difficulty coming up with examples."Snicker.First, how does reduced ice harm the polar bear?Is this like saying a one inch raised sea level is going to cause the rare whatever fish to drown?Potential. License to regulate anything due to some imagined threat which could or might happen. It's a "consesus" - at least of a few - with political ties. How can these scientists predict what's going to happen years from now when they can't even predict what the weather is going to be tomorrow? Trends? How long a timeframe do you need for a trend? 30 years is good enough out of supposed 4 billion? I guess that's no difference than thinking 0.03% (not 3%) of CO2 will make some sort of difference and like how many scientists of ALL scientists reached this supposed (media) "consensus"?Besides, isn't the earth supposed to be in a cooling spell that started a decade ago? Natural cooling cycle we're told. Cooling cycles are natural, heating cycles are not - ha ha.Does this mean these so called experts were wrong about it warming? Are they right now?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

That's what we need more of, parkay. More people thinking about you, and you only. Glad you brought that to our attention.

gr 7 years, 1 month ago

"due to polar cap melting."It's not - it has increased this year.Polar bears are increasing.Why do you want to fund terrorism just because of some imagined potential maybe possible risk to something that is increasing in numbers with no known ability for us to affect it?"They live and hunt on the ice. No ice, no hunt, no bears."So, they hunt on the ground. The baby seals will be easier for them to catch. They will increase in numbers to such excessiveness they will have to be hunted to protect the baby seals.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

"First, how does reduced ice harm the polar bear?"They live and hunt on the ice. No ice, no hunt, no bears.

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