Polar Bears To Be Protected.

The U.S. Department of the Interior declared the polar bear a threatened species on Wednesday, saying the species must be protected because of the recent massive decline in Arctic sea ice caused by global warming. According to the World Wildlife Fund, some polar bears are already starving as a result of these changing Arctic conditions. The U.S. Geological Survey published a prediction in September that 2/3 of the worlds polar bear population would be extinct by 2050.

The ruling marks a victory for a coalition of environmentalists - the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) - which sued to force the Department of the Interior to decide whether to protect the hoary Arctic predators under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Listing the polar bear guarantees federal agencies will be obligated to ensure that any action they authorise, fund, or carry out will not jeopardise the polar bears' continued existence or adversely modify their critical habitat, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be required to prepare a recovery plan for the polar bear, specifying measures necessary for its protection.

While the listing is a good start to begin protecting the polar bear, it's clear that there is nothing, under the ESA at least, that the Bush Administration intends to do to slow down warming and reduce sea ice loss. In making the announcement, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne said, “I am also announcing that this listing decision will be accompanied by administrative guidance and a rule that defines the scope of impact my decision will have, in order to protect the polar bear while limiting the unintended harm to the society and economy of the United States.”

Last month President Bush said, “The Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act were never meant to regulate global climate change.”

He said, “There is a right way and wrong way to approach reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The American people deserve an honest assessment of the costs, benefits and feasibility of any proposed solution. Discussions with such far-reaching impact should not be left to unelected regulators and judges but should be debated openly and made by the elected representatives of the people they affect.” Kempthorne said, “This Administration has taken real action to deal with the challenges of climate change.”

It is not clear what these actions are.

Another former laggard, Australia, has at last moved in the right direction, committing $2.3 billion over five years to reduce carbon emissions in the annual federal budget announced yesterday.

No comments:

Post a Comment