While it may be too late to save the magnificent white bears there may be some redemption in their sacrifice. According to an article on the front page of The Washington Post tomorrow by Juliet Eilperin, the White House might finally be conceding the truth -- that global warming is a real problem.
The Bush administration has decided to propose listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, putting the U.S. government on record as saying that global warming could drive one of the world's most recognizable animals out of existence.This is encouraging but it is far too early in the game to throw up our hands in victory. This White House has a pretty dim record on following through on its commitments to actually govern. Need I even mention the response to Hurricane Katrina, the unmitigated and growing disaster of Iraq, the inept action on the Medicare prescription drug program or dozens of other instances, large and small that where this administration has totally screwed up?
The administration's proposal -- which was described by an Interior Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity -- stems from the fact that rising temperatures in the Arctic are shrinking the sea ice that polar bears need for hunting. The official insisted on anonymity because the department will submit the proposal today for publication in the Federal Register, after which it will be subject to public comment for 90 days.
Identifying polar bears as threatened with extinction could have an enormous political and practical impact. As the world's largest bear and as an object of children's affection as well as Christmastime Coca-Cola commercials, the polar bear occupies an important place in the American psyche. Because scientists have concluded that carbon dioxide from power-plant and vehicle emissions is helping drive climate change worldwide, putting polar bears on the endangered species list raises the legal question of whether the government would be required to compel U.S. industries to curb their carbon dioxide output. [emphasis added]
Here is where we need to press our advantage in Congress. We need to make it clear to our representatives that they need to charge ahead and take the initiative on the environment and Global Warming and not wait for the White House to do so. Like I said above, we are probably too late to save the polar bear but if this glorious creature can be the rallying point for a serious and concerted effort to turn our environmental practices 180 degrees then our big white brothers will have served a noble cause.
updated: added image