Article Found Here
Ten polar bears have been spotted swimming in open water during an aerial survey as the peak of summer sea ice melting nears.
Drowning polar bears has only been seen as a threat to the species in recent years as the extent of sea ice recedes to historic low levels. Last year, there was more open water than ever before recorded; this year's melt, while dramatic, won't reach the same extent as 2007.
Swimming until an exhausted death sounds like a nightmare scenario from a human perspective. Polar bears are used to swimming. It's the growing distance that matters. Polar bears at this time of year should be out hunting seals, fattening up for the winter. If they're instead burning fat reserves swimming for solid ground, they're less likely to survive the winter.
“To find so many polar bears at sea at one time is extremely worrisome because it could be an indication that as the sea ice on which they live and hunt continues to melt, many more bears may be out there facing similar risk,” said Geoff York, the polar bear coordinator for WWF's Arctic Program. “As climate change continues to dramatically disrupt the Arctic, polar bears and their cubs are being forced to swim longer distances to find food and habitat.”
Polar bears have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, though with enough caveats that environmentalists have accused the Bush Administration of recognizing the threat to polar bears without committing to addressing the problem. That's because the problem starts with every tailpipe and smokestack, every farm and development project. The Arctic sea ice is melting to such unprecedented degrees because of global warming.
In the excitement of the Olympics, the run-up to the presidential conventions and the flurry of late summer vacations, it was easy to miss the Bush administration's stealth attack on the Endangered Species Act last week. A proposed regulation would simply eliminate independent scientific reviews that have been required for over 30 years.
"I have been working on the Endangered Species Act for 15 years and have never seen such a sneaky attack," declared John Kostyack, executive director of wildlife conservation and global warming at the National Wildlife Federation.
In a proposal, first reported by the Associated Press, biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service would no longer have input into the actions of many other federal agencies in evaluating projects that could impact endangered species.
Essentially it would be up to officials at agencies like the Forest Service, the Minerals Management Service and the Department of Transportation to decide for themselves if a new timber allotment, mining project or road would harm endangered animals and plants, without consulting third-party biologists from Fish and Wildlife.
Many of the agencies, which would now be making decisions affecting the fate of species themselves, don't even have biologists on staff to make such determinations. The proposal presents a conflict of interest, which could effectively gut the Endangered Species Act, by asking the very agencies the act regulates to also enforce it. A 2008 Fish and Wildlife Service memorandum obtained by environmentalists states that when agencies regulated themselves in the past, they consistently violated the Endangered Species Act.
Sarah Palin, McCain's VP running mate, sued, the Bush administration for adding Polar Bears to the endangered species list. Sarah Palin does not believe that mankind has caused global warming. Hmmmmm, me thinks maybe the cold Alaskan air has gone to her head?? Maybe it is just not warm enough in Alaska to believe in global warming?
"In defending her position, Palin has discounted the findings of nine recent U.S. Geological Survey studies which concluded that the polar bear's habitat is threatened by global warming, and the animals could be extinct before this century ends.
Three of Palin's own state scientists reviewed the USGS studies and found them sound, according to internal documents released to an Alaska professor earlier this year under the state's open records law. But she has argued, in a New York Times editorial and elsewhere, that "there is insufficient evidence that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct in the foreseeable future."
Palin's position, she wrote, is based on "a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.""Essentially, she lied," said University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner, who wrangled with the Palin administration for months to obtain the documents. "She came out and said, 'our scientists agree the polar bears are fine and should not be listed'" when that wasn't the case, said Steiner, a conservation specialist who studies climate change. "
Read More Here