Monday, May 11, 2009

Can the polar bears really be saved?

This is the question we should all be asking ourselves after "The Obama administration said Friday that it would retain a wildlife rule issued in the last days of the Bush administration that says the government cannot invoke the Endangered Species Act to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases threatening the polar bear and its habitat." (New York Times)

Are we witnessing the end of a species? The polar bear.

Here's the problem, as stated eloquently from the National Wildlife Federation:

Global warming is causing polar bears to become a threatened species.

United States Geological Survey scientists conservatively project that two-thirds of the polar bear population in the world could disappear by 2050, including all of Alaska's polar bears.

The US Department of Interior announced that the polar bear will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act on May 14, 2008, but the listing was filled with contradictions. For example, the administration signaled that it would take no steps under the Endangered Species Act to protect the polar bear from the massive oil and gas development currently planned in the very heart of its habitat.

While the population is currently estimated at more than 20,000 polar bears, already global warming has caused populations to decline in the Western Hudson Bay and Southern Beaufort Sea. Less summer sea ice is forcing bears to fast longer in the summer, decreasing their nutritional status and ability to bear and raise young.

And, says Andrew Wetzler, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council , relating to the Obama Administration's decision of last week --

“This is yet another decision by the Department of Interior that undermines protection for our endangered animals. The impact of global warming are already being felt in the arctic, and it poses a grave threat to polar bears and the entire ecosystem. We need to use every tool at our disposal, including the Endangered Species Act. The rule endorsed today is illegal, and we will continue to fight it in court.”

Although it seems a nearly impossible task for any one person to markedly affect the polar bears' decline, the irony is that the polar bears' cause is determined by the people ... one at a time. Each person's voice is actual very important in this cause. Governments, run by the people, need to enact stronger climate change regulations in order to slow and reverse greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

So, here's what you can do --
  • Encourage climate and energy legislation to pass out of its committee by Memorial Day -- go to this link for more info
  • There are 17 U.S. representatives who are undecided in determining if they will support climate and energy legislation. You can write them and ask them to support this legislation. Here's the list of these representatives.

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