Saving polar bears disastrous for US economy
by Alan Harten
May 22, 2008
Because of the increasingly rapid melting of polar ice in the Arctic, the U.S. government is to declare polar bears an endangered species.
U.S. Minister of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne warned in Washington that the polar bear could be at risk of extinction in the foreseeable future.
Kempthorne’s comments are based on satellite images showing that the polar ice surfaces have become smaller than ever before in the history of ice measurements.
At the same time he announced U.S. government directives for the protection of animals. This will be a hindrance to oil production in the U.S. state of Alaska, due to species protection.
The decline of the habitat on the frozen sea surface puts the number of bears continually falling with each summer season.
According to estimates, there are some 25,000 polar bears, of which two thirds live in Canada.
Scientific studies commissioned by the U.S. government say that given the melting polar ice caps an extinction of polar bears is possible by 2050.
Kempthorne called for effective measures against global warming, emphasising that the list of endangered species such as polar bears will grow as the global climate changes.
His department will support the implementation of a U.S. law on protection of endangered species including polar bears.
These could have a disastrous impact on the U.S. economy Kempthorne admitted.
The U.S. had in February legalized the production of oil and gas on land in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska in the immediate vicinity of the habitat of polar bears.
The decision, to put the polar bear species under protection, came from a recommendation from the Fisheries and Wildlife Authority in January 2007.
The U.S. Congress had put pressure on the government of George W. Bush because the Bush climate policy pursued so far has been a more reserved line than the countries of the EU.
So Bush rejected mandatory caps on emissions of greenhouse gases that are responsible for global warming.
The President of the world’s largest environmental organisation WWF, Carter Roberts, called the decision by the U.S. government a huge victory.
At the same time he regretted the delay with which the protection will come into force.
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