It is widely known that polar bears are in a very bad position due to global weirding. But rather than designate them as “endangered” and increase the U.S. government’s ability to fight climate change, the Bush administration just designated them as “threatened” back in 2008. In October, however, a U.S. judge asked the Obama administration to clarify if polar bears are only threatened or are actually endangered. If the Obama administration declares the species endangered this could show a big difference in the administration’s interest in addressing climate change compared to the Bush administration’s and it could mean a lot to billions of people and animals as well as to polar bears.
As the reader who tipped me off to this wrote, “if the polar bear gets on the endangered list then federal law could go after the fossil fuel industry for greenhouse gases. Kinda like ‘polar bear saves the planet’ if it becomes endangered.”
Here’s more on the story via Timothy Gardner of Reuters:
Bush’s Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne had ruled that polar bears were threatened, not endangered, because they faced no immediate threat of extinction.
Sullivan rejected that notion and asked Interior to “provide a reasonable interpretation of the definition of an ‘endangered species,’ as applied to its listing determination fro the polar bear.”
Kassie Siegel, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, which challenged the listing with other groups, said Sullivan’s move might lead to an endangered listing.
“It opens the door for the Obama administration to break with the flawed decision and policies of the Bush administration,” she said.
Opponents of full protection for the bears have said that projections about the threat to the species have not been based on current population levels, but on expectations of melting sea ice.
The Interior Department has until December 23 to reply to the judge.
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