Polar Bear Status Focuses Climate Debate

February 04, 2008 11:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Alaskan polar bear population is stable, but there is evidence that their hunting grounds are shrinking. Activists want the bears listed as “threatened.”

30-Second Summary

The conflict is “really about the politics of global warming,” and has little to do with polar bears themselves, writes The Wall Street Journal.

The politicizing of the issue is, argues the Journal, is especially misconceived since reducing emissions won’t stop the poles from thawing.

Conversely, Salon blames the delay on the Bush administration’s interest in the lease for the Chukchi seas off Northwestern Alaskan coast for oil and gas exploration.

Kassie Siegal of the Center for Biological Diversity says,  “This administration is racing to hand out as many entitlements for fossil-fuel development as they can.”

A columnist from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that scientists were pressured to draw conclusions quickly so the government could go forward with the lease. The paper claims that biologists who advised against developing the area were ignored.
Scientists have predicted that by 2050, two-thirds of the polar bear population will be gone, having lost their habitat through global warming. Kassie Siegal from the Center for Biological Diversity, called this a “watershed moment in the climate crisis.”

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is opposed to including polar bears on the endangered species list. She wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed that “Alaska is home to a healthy population of polar bears. We intend to keep it that way.”

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service failed to decide the issue by the Jan. 7 deadline that had been set. It is expected to announce its ruling in the next few weeks.

Headline Link: ‘The Polar Bear Express’

Background Links: Polar bear population

Related Links: ‘Le Journal’ footage

Opinions & Analysis: Assessing the danger

Reference Link: The Alaska Fish and Wildlife Service


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