The American pika should be listed as an endangered species because climate change could cause its extinction, say Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against California and the federal government. The pika, a rabbit cousin characterized by inordinate cuteness and a squeaky call, is “the polar bear of the Lower 48,” says Greg Loarie of Earthjustice. Pikas live in alpine meadows and spend their summers gathering vegetation to sustain them through the winter. “Global warming threatens pikas by shortening the time available for them to gather food, changing the types of plants that grow where they live, reducing the insulating snowpack during winter, and, most directly, causing the animals to die from overheating,” says CBD. The lawsuits say pika habitat should be protected and that carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant. That won’t fly with the Bush administration, which has declared that the Endangered Species Act should not be used to force greenhouse-gas regulation.