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The Great Polar Bear Debate

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ColtCarbine, May 24, 2008.

  1. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Embedding the video has been disabled from the news source. Click the tab marked video above photo of polar bear at provided link to watch video containing text below.

    Here's the link: Link

    (CBS) The heated debate over global warming has ensnared an animal that can survive in the world's harshest conditions -- the polar bear -- putting it at the center of a fierce political tug-of-war between environmentalists and business interests over protecting the polar bear's habitat and drilling for oil.

    As CBS News Science and Technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg explains, the Interior Department has until Thursday to rule on whether the polar bear should be placed on the Endangered Species List.

    "The Bush administration has its legal obligation to finalize its decision on the polar bear," says Sen. Barbara Boxer (D, Calif.), head of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, "and we all have a moral obligation to see that they do it."

    There are an estimated 20,000 - 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic region, but environmentalists warn that rising temperatures and disappearing sea ice will cause a 30 percent decline in their population over the next 50 years.

    "We are now beginning to see declines in a number of populations of polar bears, and that's because of global warming," says John Kostyack of the National Wildlife Federation. "Effectively, the polar bears are starving."

    But The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, argues that putting the polar bear on the endangered species list might do more harm than good.

    "There's a real question," says the foundation's Ben Lieberman, "whether the polar bear is threatened in the first place, and the Endangered Species Act, the way it would work, would actually do quite a bit of economic damage, and may or may not actually impact the bears."

    The polar bear would be the first animal to be listed as endangered or threatened as a result of global warming -- which could mean two things, some observers say. One -- some northern exploration for oil could be stalled, possibly leading to even higher energy prices at home. And two -- environmental groups could be empowered to sue any company or governmental agency contributing to the increase of greenhouse gases.

    But the Wildlife Federation disputes that theory.

    "What we're expecting the Endangered Species Act to be used for," says Kostyack, "is something that's much more direct, which is these immediate threats to the polar bear in their habitat from oil and gas development."

    The polar bear is an iconic symbol of the Arctic, Sieberg notes, "so, in some ways, critics are saying, it's just being used to try to limit greenhouse gases. But environmentalists are very outspoken. They say it is absolutely essential to look at this issue and to try to do something about their habitat, which is the disappearing ice."
  2. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    <object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GpZX9jpXCTk&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GpZX9jpXCTk&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>

    The US government declared the polar bear a threatened species on Wednesday, citing global warming and decline in sea ice over the last three decades as the major causes. The announcement comes after environmental groups won a court order earlier this year, which forced the government make a decision by May 15, 2008. While the decision was welcomed, the listing falls short of what many had hoped for.

    Andrew Wetzler is the director for the Endangered Species Project with the Natural Resources Defense Council. He has been with NRDC since 1998 with a focus on wildlife conservation. Kieran Suckling is one of the founders and the Executive Director of the Center for Biological Diversity. He has published articles assessing trends in conservation of imperiled species, the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act, and the relationship between the loss of linguistic and biological diversity.


    VOICEOVER: The US government declared the polar bear a threatened species on Wednesday. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne cited global warming and a decline in sea ice over the last three decades as a threat to the polar bear.

    DIRK KEMPTHORNE, US INTERIOR SECRETARY: Our scientists advise me that computer modeling projects a significant population decline by the year 2050. This in my judgment makes the polar bear a threatened species, one likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

    VOICEOVER: Projections of continued losses mean that the species is likely to be in danger of extinction in the near future. According to environmental groups, the government has been stalling on a decision to protect polar bears for several months in order to issue oil and gas exploration leases in Alaska. The decision was made only after a coalition of environmental groups sued the government under the Endangered Species Act. The coalition won a court order which forced the government to make a decision about the polar bear by May 15.

    VOICE OF ANDREW WETZLER, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: Unfortunately, it took dragging the Bush administration into court on at least several occasions to get this determination that the polar bear is in fact endangered. When a citizen group like the NRDC [Natural Resources Defense Council] and the Center for Biological Diversity files a petition to protect the polar bear, which we did, the Endangered Species Act sets forth mandatory deadlines that the federal government had to comply with. And in this case, as in many cases, the administration simply blew the deadlines off. It completely ignored them. And the only way to get a final decision was for us to sue and to make a federal judge order the Bush administration to make a final decision, which is what they did.

    VOICEOVER: Environmental groups welcomed the decision, but the listing falls short of what many had hoped for. Some groups are already challenging the limitations of the government's decision.

    VOICE OF KIERAN SUCKLING, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: Unfortunately, at the same that the Bush administration listed the polar bear, it attempted to undermine the listing. For example, it refused to designate the Arctic as a protected critical habitat area, so there's no direct protection for the Arctic. And then it issued a special rule to exempt greenhouse gas emissions and oil and gas exploration and drilling from the Endangered Species Act. So the Bush administration is doing its best to try to make the decision as meaningless as possible. We filed a second lawsuit on May 16, challenging Bush's attempt to exempt greenhouse gases from the Endangered Species Act. So we're in court already, and we expect that we'll get some rulings fairly soon telling the administration to play it straight and just protect the bear and not attempt these sideways exemptions.


    Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
  3. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Instead of blaming others perhaps environmentalists should take a long hard look in the mirror at themselves when complaining about the high cost of oil, since they are part of the problem.
  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    So what did we need the Polar Bears for again?
  5. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    Animals, plants, and bugs have went extinct all through out history. It's just the natural order of things. The strong survive and the weak and the ones unable to adapt to change will die, as it should be.

  6. BigO01

    BigO01 Monkey+++ Founding Member

    God help the Canadians if they put it on the Endangered Species List .

    There's an old National Geo film I first watched 30 years or so ago and there is a town in SE Canada thats named after Winston Churchill , can't recall if they used his first or last name .

    Anyhow the Polar bears migrate through the town on their way to the ice packs every year and breaking into homes is a favorite past time in their search for food .

    The night of Halloween is especially interesting as the Residents have to patrol the streets with guns to keep the kiddies safe while they do the trick or treat thing .

    In the film one tried to get into a home on Halloween , smashing out a storm window and was fired on by a lady with a shotgun then the cops get to search for a possible wounded bear on a night with little kids ever where .

    I recall reading in a hunting magazine that in Africa when the leopard was placed on the list it didn't take long and the attacks on people skyrocketed especially kills of children and women .

    It seems an predator on the list quickly learns that humans are far easier to catch than their natural prey as their numbers rebound .

    I have often said that we are very lucky that the movie "Jurassic Park" is pure fiction as I can see some animal loving fools protesting that a herd of T-Rexes have rights too , while they are chomping down on school buses full of our children .
  7. Clyde

    Clyde Jet Set Tourer Administrator Founding Member

    What is wrong with people. It's is simply natural selection in action. If they don't adapt, they die. That is the way it works. Let's not artifically increase the specie count against "nature's" natural way of controlling population growth.
  8. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    Could not agree more. [beer]

  9. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    Because feel good liberals impose their will by going to court...they don't care about the polar bear as much as wanting to declare human caused global warming the culprit..[beat][beat][beat][beat]
  10. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    I was in San Juan, P.R. several years ago when the circus came to town. The stevedores were also on strike so two polar bears got left out on the dock in cages until they died of heat stroke. I guess you just can't leave these things laying out on a dock somewhere.
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