May 14th saw the Polar Bear acknowledged as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Sea ice is melting too rapidly, which is attributed to global warming. The loss of this natural habitat for polar bears is what threatens their survival.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the decision that the polar bear would be listed under the ESA, although the scope of the listing has been limited to ensure that oil and gas exploration will also be protected.
“I am also announcing that this listing decision will be accompanied by administrative guidance and a rule that defines the scope of impact my decision will have, in order to protect the polar bear while limiting the unintended harm to the society and economy of the United States… While the legal standards under the ESA compel me to list the polar bears as threatened, I want to make clear that this listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting. Any real solution requires action by all major economies for it to be effective. That is why I am taking administrative and regulatory action to make certain the ESA isn’t abused to make global warming policies.”
The recommendation to list the polar bear under the ESA came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and although this may not be exactly what they were seeking, I think it provides a sensible compromise for both parties, and opens a path for greater collaboration in the fight against global warming without threatening the economy and progression of society.
For more information, check the news release in the following link: U.S. Department of Interior.