Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hollow Victory for Polar Bears?

AP reports that the Interior Department has agreed to list the polar bear as an endangered species. It has been widely thought that such a listing would mandate the department to take action against global warming, but Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne does not seem to see it that way. He cited dramatic declines in sea ice over the last three decades and projections of continued losses. These declines, he told a news conference, mean the polar bear is a species likely to be in danger of extinction in the near future.

But he also said that it would be ''inappropriate'' to use the protection of the bear to reduce greenhouse gases, or to broadly address climate change. Reflecting views recently expressed by President Bush, Kempthorne said the Endangered Species Act was ''never meant to regulate global climate change,' and that the decision to list the bear includes administrative actions aimed at limiting the impact of the decision on energy development and other climate related activities. I must say this leaves me confused, and I suspect we will need to wait for the next administration to act.

1 comment:

RosInSheffield said...

As I understand it, the US government won't even use this "endangered" status to protect the polar bears' habitat from oil and gas exploration in Alaska.
Maybe the idea is to boost tourism to Alaska in the short-term? "Visit Alaska - see the polar bears now before they go extinct!"