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Polar bear added to endangered species list

by Therese on May 14, 2008

in Animals in the News

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I’ve never seen a polar bear in the wild. I probably never will…and I’m guessing the same is true for most people. Even so, when I heard today that the great white bear was put on the Endangered Species list it made me incredibly sad, disappointed, and even a bit angry. The ice the bears call home is melting due to global warming, making it more and more difficult for them to survive.

The polar bear, whose Arctic hunting grounds have been greatly reduced by a warming climate, will be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced Wednesday.

But the long-delayed decision to list the bear as a threatened species may prove less of an impediment to industries along the Alaskan coast than many environmentalists had hoped. While further protecting the polar bear from direct or immediate threats — like hunting — the Interior Department added stipulations, seldom invoked under the act, that will make it relatively easy for oil and gas exploration and development activities to proceed.

The decision builds on scientific evidence about the retreat of sea ice, which the bears use as a platform to hunt seals and as a pathway to the Arctic coasts where they den. But it does not directly link the threat to the bears to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The New York Times has more about the polar bear.

Not everybody agrees that global warming is real, but I’m certainly a believer, and it saddens me to think I’m part of the problem. Sure, I’m becoming more aware of my carbon footprint and am making changes in my life, but is it enough? How much of a difference will my CFC light bulbs, recycling, limits in driving, and other changes make? I don’t know, but certainly I hope my small effort will help.

For being such a “superior” species, sure are doing terrible things to our earth, and with every animal that slips away due to our own actions, we’re just digging ourselves into a deeper hole.

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