Threat Level: White
U.S. proposes listing polar bears under Endangered Species Act
Maybe they saw one too many cute Coke ads, or maybe it was the court-imposed deadline. All we know is last week officials at the U.S. Interior Department proposed listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, in response to a suit filed in 2005 by three green groups. Melting Arctic ice has already led to starvation, cannibalism, and drowning among the world’s 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. As global temperatures rise, scientists say, the summer sea ice that the keen hunters rely on could be gone by 2040. So if the U.S. has to help the bear, does that mean it has to tackle climate change? Inquiring minds wanted to know immediately, but U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne compartmentalized like a pro. “That whole aspect of climate change is beyond the scope of the Endangered Species Act,” he said, though the agency’s own study had fingered climate change as a probable contributor to the animal’s decline. That and the Coke — everyone knows it rots your guts.