Thursday, May 15, 2008

Concrete Consequences

"There are some concrete consequences of the [U.S. decision to classify Polar Bears as threatened], not related to climate or the sea-ice change. Animal rights campaigners cheered the ruling because it will eliminate a loophole that has allowed wealthy American trophy hunters to fly to Canada, shoot a polar bear, and come home with the head and hide."

Not surprising, I suppose, that those who will shoulder the real burden of the U.S. decision will be Canadian Inuit. While actually shooting the bears will remain legal, the fact that American hunters can no longer return home with a souvenir will likely squelch the allure of the hunt. Since acting as guides to U.S. trophy hunters provides much needed cash to Northern communities, it will be these communities that suffer as a result.

(Not that I oppose this part of the U.S. decision. I'm just saying...)

On the other hand:

...the long-delayed decision to list the bear as a threatened species may prove less of an impediment to oil and gas industries along the Alaskan coast than many environmentalists had hoped. [Interior Secretary Dirk] Kempthorne also made it clear that it would be “wholly inappropriate” to use the listing as a tool to reduce greenhouse gases, as environmentalists had intended to do.

I don't know how effective Mr. Kempthorne's strategy will be. Author Charles Wohlforth thinks it is doomed:

That leaves Kempthorne saying no single carbon emission threatens any specific bear, so there is no need for the listing to affect any carbon emissions. By this reasoning, no one should vote, or try to solve any problem unless it can be solved all at once. The next phase of the story will be the legal strategy to overturn this second line of defense established by the administration. On the face of it, it looks like the main wall has been breached and they’re hiding behind some tipped-up card tables.

There's lots of interesting further discussion through the first link above, which leads to N.Y. Times reporter Andy Revkin's Dot Earth Blog.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

First time I've seen an animal with a growing population listed as "threatened".

Unfortunate news for the Inuit; but this is what happens when a decision is made mainly on political concerns and very little on actual science about the bears.