August 24, 2009

Polar bear update: "It's a good time to be a polar bear."

By Polar bear update: "It's a good time to be a polar bear."

Author: Brandon Middleton

An editorial in yesterday's Washington Times describes how conditions in the Arctic are not fitting the alarming narrative behind the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act:

It's a good time to be a polar bear. Unusually cool temperatures in the northern climes last winter produced thicker-than-usual polar ice. This gave the lucky bears an extra two weeks to roam the ice floes to hunt ringed seals. As a result, adult bears are better fed and more cubs are surviving their first year. The bears will go into the winter with greater energy stores, which will mean a better chance of survival and even more cubs.

As the editorial points out, there's good reason to think that the listing of the polar bear had little to do with science:

The polar bear was chosen as a marketing tool for the global-warming alarmists since they are more cuddly looking than, say, the Burrington jumping slug. But if numbers begin to increase significantly, the Arctic mammals could be equally effective as symbols of global cooling. Activists dismiss this year's cold conditions as a blip, but global temperatures have generally been declining over the last decade, an inconvenient truth for those who like to think in terms of "tipping points" and other panicky cliches.

Indeed, given the current status of the polar bear's population and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's own projections on the population, the listing of the polar bear defies logic and law.

This is the very point behind Pacific Legal Foundation's lawsuit to overturn the listing of the polar bear: when the government's population studies forecast a viable population of a species for the foreseeable future, there is neither reason nor authority to list that species under the Endangered Species Act. The government believes that there will be approximately 20,000 polar bears as we approach 2050, yet somehow concludes that this means the polar bear is a threatened species. This is a misuse of the Endangered Species Act, hence PLF's lawsuit.

In the meantime, it's good to see that the Washington Times has taken notice that numbers and conditions behind the polar bear's ESA listing don't add up.

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