Is It Hot In Here?
The Secretary of the Department of the Interior said Wednesday that polar bears are facing increased jeopardy for survival because "…we are concerned the polar bear's habitat may literally be melting." (according to the AP via WaPo) The Bush Administration is currently doing "studies" to determine what may or may not be causing the ice in polar regions to melt so precipitously. But they apparently have already ruled out a few things.
A final decision on whether to add the polar bears to the list is a year away, after the government finishes more studies.
Such a decision would require all federal agencies to ensure that anything they authorize that might affect polar bears will not jeopardize their survival or the sea ice where they live. That could include oil and gas exploration, commercial shipping or even releases of toxic contaminants or climate-affecting pollution.
Kempthorne, however, said his department's studies indicate that coastal and offshore oil and gas exploration _ heavily promoted by the Bush administration, particularly in Alaska _ shouldn't be curtailed.
"It's very clear that the oil and gas activity in that area does not pose a threat to the polar bears," he said.
Guess all those big oil companies can breathe a sigh of relief that the Bush Administration won't be curtailing any of their activities and that no one seems at all interested in exploring or pushing greener energy alternatives. As if that were even really a question in the first place with George and Dick at the helm but, hey, that lobbying money has to be justified somehow, doesn't it?
As for the root causes of this mysterious melting ice, there are some theories, sure:
Environmentalists hope that invoking the Endangered Species Act protections eventually might provide impetus for the government to cut back on its emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases blamed for warming the atmosphere.
The proposed listing also marks a potentially significant departure for the administration from its cautious rhetoric about the effects of global warming. Kempthorne cited the thinning sea ice brought about by global warming as the main culprit, although he said his department wasn't required by the endangered species law to study climate change.
President Bush's steadfast refusal to go along with United Nations-brokered mandatory controls on carbon dioxide, the chief global warming gas, has contributed to tensions between the United States and other nations. (emphasis mine)
Nope, don't have to study anything that might come to a conclusion that my boss wouldn't like. Nosiree, thank you very much. Next question?
For more on global warming, try speaking to any science teacher with a working brain. Or your neighbor's fourth grade kid. Or just about anyone who isn't taking lobbying donations from Dick Cheney's hunting buddies. Here's hoping that these "studies" aren't on the same deciderating track that the Iraq ones are on…it's what, three years and counting for those, and we're still waiting.
Or you could try reading this about species of fish dying at the Great Barrier Reef because the seas are warming so much that their food sources are dying. Or this about the loss of polar bear habitats. Or this about a joint India-China study of the effects of substantial coal burning on the environment in the region. Or this, more specifically, about China and coal and the migration of this pollution across the globe. Or this from National Geographic. Or just watch this, and then keep on asking questions and looking for answers. Even WalMart is contemplating solar power for some of its stores in a test project. Shouldn't we all start asking what we could be doing — even the Bush Administration — before it's too late?
But don't ask the Secretary of the Interior, because he's not required by law to know anything about it other than "The ice is melting. It's a mystery!"
PS — Yay! Howie is home from vacation!