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Science

Polar Bears Fate Still Pending

1958341637_41e6897058 It won’t come as a surprise that global warming as a result of man-made global emissions is up for debate. The controversy is really just beginning, and we all know someone who believes something different to us, whether that be in favor of or against man-made global warming.

Sadly, the debates that springs from such a topic have put in further danger one of the planets most beautiful animals; the polar bear.

Monday saw federal officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announce that they needed a few more weeks to decide whether polar bears actually need protection under the Endangered Species Act. The problem arises, not as a result of determining whether they need protection – they do – but whether they need protection as a result of global warming.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has never declared a species threatened or endangered as a result of climate change, and according to Dale Hall, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, “That’s why this one has been so taxing and challenging to us.”

Environmental groups that have been petitioning to protect the polar bear have argued that their habitat has been threatened as a result of warming. They are threatening court action if the polar bears are not listed within the month, the time frame the Fish and Wildlife Service’s feel they need to make the correct decision.

The decision to list them under the Endangered Species Act will affect more than just the polar bears however. Limits on development – particularly for oil and gas exploration and subsequent production – could be put on hold, if it is threatening the animals.

It was September that saw the U.S. Geological Survey issue a report concluding that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears – including the entire population residing in Alaska – will be killed off by 2050 as a direct result of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic. But it was two years ago that the Biological Diversity Center, along with Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a petition claiming that global warming was eroding sea-ice.

Needless to say, if you have seen Al Gore’s presentation or his Emmy award winning An Inconvenient Truth, then you will be aware of the sad tale that is the polar bears life. And that small cartoon showing a polar bear looking for somewhere to stop swimming is not just for laughs or to make you sad. That is actually what is happening, with polar bears being found drowned for the first time.

So if you live in America, and want to have your say, this time before the official announcement is the time to make your voices heard. Write the Fish and Wildlife services, write Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne who will be making the decision.

 

Photo Courtesy of DetroitDerek via Flickr




3 comments
  1. Bobby B.

    The Alaskan caribou used to be on the endangered species list, but were removed when their numbers increased exponentially a few years after the completion of the Alaskan Pipeline. The best argument for the increase in caribou is the lack of summertime mosquitos near the pipeline; something about the harmonics given off by the flow of the oil freaking out the bugs. Plus, it is said to be slightly warmer around the pipeline in winter, which lowers freezing deaths. It’s an example of human progress benefitting a segment of the environment. Although some bears may suffer, most will probably recognize the danger and relocate to solid ground. Animals tend to have an inate sense regarding danger. Sorry about not citing references for this, but it is not too difficult to verify.

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