Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Polar Bears

Polar Bears Listed as 'Threatened'

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced Wednesday that the U.S. government will list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, making it the first animal species to win protections because of threats from global warming.

The Arctic sea ice is vital to the bear's survival, its habitat has dramatically melted and computer models show that the pack ice is likely to continue melting in the foreseeable future, Kempthorne said.

Environmental groups had pressed the Bush administration to list the polar bear in hope that it would force the U.S. government to pass restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from factories, utilities and vehicles, saying that strategy is the only way to avoid the harshest effects of climate change.

But Kempthorne made it clear that the Bush administration wouldn't use the the act to limit emissions on industrial sources or otherwise regulate greenhouse gases. The law and science wouldn't allow it because direct connections couldn't be made between greenhouse gas emissions and harm to the polar bear, he said.

"We know Earth is warming. We know man is a factor in that. But we cannot tell you to what extent," said Kempthorne.

"The habitat for the polar bear is declining. That's what triggered this. But the Endangered Species Act is not the vehicle to deal with global climate change," Kempthorne said. Such policy changes would have to come from elected leaders and nations worldwide, he said.

Read the rest of the article here.

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