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Polar Bears "threatened"

Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby annieinkansas on Wed May 14, 2008 7:10 pm

Today Polar Bears were declared threatened due to melting sea ice... they are still not in a "protected" class ... that will be when they are "endangered."

Editorial comment: They'll probably be declared endangered on Nov. 5th.


WASHINGTON — 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. He said he had consulted with the White House on the decision, but "at no time was there ever a suggestion that this was not my decision."

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. The bear population across the Arctic from Alaska to Greenland doubled from about 12,000 to 25,000 since 1960, but he noted that scientists now predict a significant population decline. Studies last year by the U.S. Geological Survey suggested 15,000 bears 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.

Members of Congress also were skeptical.

The Bush administration "is forcing the polar bear to sink or swim," said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., chairman of a House committee on global warming.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., called it "a lifeline for our last remaining polar bears" but said the bear's survival won't be assured without limits on oil development in the same Arctic waters where the bears are found.

Despite the new listing, the announcement underscores the need to approve climate legislation that would limit the release of greenhouse gases and avert the future effects on climate change, said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment Committee.

Scientists have blamed global warming for the disappearance of sea ice which is vital for the bear's survival.

Summer ice surrounding the North Pole declined an average of 10 percent per decade since 1979, with a loss of about 28,000 square miles per year, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Last year was the sharpest drop, as the amount of sea ice in September fell to 1.65 million square miles, or 23 percent below the previous low in 2005.

Kempthorne proposed 15 months ago to investigate whether the polar bear should be declared threatened under the Endangered Species Act. That triggered a year of studies into the threats facing the bear and its survival prospects.

A decision had been expected early this year, but the Interior Department said it needed more time to work out many of the details, prompting criticism from members of Congress and environmentalists. Environmentalists filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing a decision and a federal court on April 29 set a May 15 deadline for a decision.

A species is declared "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act if it is found to be at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future. If it does not make progress toward recovery, it can be declared "endangered" meaning it is at risk of extinction and needs even greater protection.
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby mama-missy on Wed May 14, 2008 7:42 pm

Thanks for posting about this here Annie. I saw a thread on msn about this but didn't get a chance to read it yet.
Not long ago I saw an article about the loss of sea ice in either National Geographic or one of my hubbies Popular Science mags about this. It was quite startling. If I find the article I'll post some of the stats.
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby Bubbles on Wed May 14, 2008 7:59 pm

I skimmed the article Annie posted and I read the article on msnbc.com. I found both articles to be a little difficult to read, I had to go back and re-read several of the paragraphs.

It all seems a little confusing to me.
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby PartyofSeven on Wed May 14, 2008 8:03 pm

And of course it's George Bush's fault. What a bastard.
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby Bubbles on Wed May 14, 2008 8:08 pm

I'll go back and re-read tomorrow when I'm not so tired. The article didn't seem too friendly with the Bush administration, but not a lot of things in the media are, these days. I was expecting more of an ecological article, what we can do to help save them?, etc. I didn't realize it involved all the politics.

So if I have it right, the article (in basic terms) states it's the future of the polar bears vs oil?
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby hotmomma on Wed May 14, 2008 8:14 pm

I didn't know George Bush was melting the polar ice caps! He really is a jerk! He's probably about to put another hole in the atmosphere right over the top of the ice so it will all melt and do away with those pesky bears altogether.

Theodore Roosevelt could not shoot a bear, and Bush is getting rid of an entire species. How things change.
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby hotmomma on Wed May 14, 2008 8:27 pm

Okay, my previous post was based on what everyone else was saying. I actually read the article this time, and here are my thoughts.

"WHERE IN THE BLOODY H___ DO YOU WANT THE PRESIDENT TO PUT THE BEARS?" If their habitat is melting, what is Bush supposed to do? Don't whine about it, come up with a solution to help it. Sheesh, we complain about how Bush is handling the war in Iraq. Well, can you blame him, he's got to worry about polar bears too. I cannot imagine what went through his mind when this proposal came across his desk. "Hmm, I got men dying overseas fighing a war nobody supports, and now they want me to save bears?!"

In the article it says that 40 years ago the population was 12000, now it is 25000, but in 50 years it'll be 10000. So, in a span of 90 years, they'll just end up back where they started. Here's a thought. If 12000 bears are living in a space large enough for 12000 bears, and then there is a population boom moving them to 25000, then what do you suppose will happen? There naturally (melting or not) won't be enough space, food, shelter, habitat, etc. for the mass numbers, and they'll begin to die off (anybody else to Sparrow Graphs in HS biology class).

I think bears are wonderful, and I am honestly an animal lover, but seriously, blaming the president for a decline in the polar bear population, what's up with that?
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby cnnplus5 on Wed May 14, 2008 8:29 pm

You know - I love polar bears and all - and i think we should do our best to save them - really. But what I'm more concerned about is all the babies that are aborted every day in our country, why don't we try to save them? George Bush cares about babies that are murdered.
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby bvmom on Wed May 14, 2008 8:34 pm

Thanks for posting the article. Regardless of people's view of global warming I think most folks agree the use of oil in the world needs to change. I guess the silver lining of the high cost of gas is that folks are reassessing their use of gas and maybe the "non human" creatures can have a happier existence :D ! Can't comment on politics--I could lose my job due to the Hatch Act!!
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Re: Polar Bears "threatened"

Postby annieinkansas on Wed May 14, 2008 8:51 pm

How do you read this article to say it is George Bush's fault? I thought it had been melting at a rate of 10 percent since 1979. The news article quotes both dems and repubs.

There's a really good bush bashing article out there (it involves the lie he told about not golfing due to fighting troops when it was really a knee injury) but I chose not to post it because I didn't want to stir ya'll up again.

However, Polar Bears went to the "threatened" list today...and I didn't read it as pro dem or pro repub. What am I not reading?
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