Thursday, May 15, 2008

A call to (polar) bear arms

Possibly missed in the fray among presidential endorsements, earthquakes and cyclones, the US government took an extraordinary step and placed the Polar Bear on the endangered species list. 

Determining that the bear's natural habitat is disappearing and rapid declines in it's population are imminent, the government moved to put the bear on the list. Once a species goes on the list, the government is supposed to enact actions to protect the natural habitat of the creature and protect it from it's unnatural endangerment. 

The case of the polar bear is unique and could be a landmark case for the legislation and for the government's stance on climate change. The science that documented the loss of natural habitat of the polar bear is essentially global warming science. Therefore to save the polar bear the US government is mandated to take action on global warming to protect the bear. There seem to be legal actions underway to prevent such actions, but the really paralyzing thing is no one really knows what to do to repair the arctic and reverse global warming. Slowing it down seems to be problematic enough. For a complete report on the state of the polar bear and legislation attempting to protect it head here

1 comment:

Sun Tzu said...

Why Do We Care If Polar Bears Become Extinct?
This is not any sort of revelation: Polar bears declared a threatened species , but it does raise the question: Why do we care? By some estimates, 90% of all species that once existed are now extinct and new species are always taking their place. For the species that’s going to become extinct, for whatever reason, extinction is the end of it. However, for the species that remain, is the extinction of another species good or bad. When Europeans first colonized North America, there was an estimated five (5) billion Passenger Pigeons alive and well in North America. In 1914, they were extinct. Passenger Pigeons didn’t live in little groups, but huge flocks that required extraordinary quantities of hardwood forests for them to feed, breed and survive. Deforestation to build homes, create farmland and over hunting for cheap food decimated their population. The westward drive to grow the United States in the 1800s and early 1900s was incompatible with the needs of the Passenger Pigeon and they literally could not survive in the new North America being carved out by the U.S. economy. The interesting thing about the Passenger Pigeon was the impact its extinction had on another species—man. That impact was essentially none. Man continued to find ways to feed himself through agriculture and other technologies and the United States and its citizens continued to prosper from the early 20th century till today. Whether or not Polar Bears become extinct because of Global Climate Change or other reasons, we need to address the larger question of: Do we care and why? One of the ways a nation, its citizens and the global community can answer that question is addressed by John A. Warden III in Thinking Strategically About Global Climate Change. He asks some interesting biodiversity questions in his post to include How Many Species Is the Right Number and Which Ones?