The not-so-serious bit:
The San Diego Zoo is made of win. They have a polar bear cam! You can watch nanuks, all day and all of the night. Check out the Nanukcam
. Also, they have a Pandacam
! They offer a bear breakfast
, where you can visit the polar bears and pandas* and have pancakes. That sounds like the most me thing evar. If it were presented by a naked Jared Leto I'd totally be there (like a bear) even if I have to stow away on a plane. I need to be in San Diego in July. Sigh.
If animal voyeurism is your thing, check out the Apecam
and the Elephantcam
Is it bad of me that I only had a fleeting "oh, shame" thought for the Chinese people who died in the earthquake, while my heart wrenched when I thought of the pandas
that had suffered? Too many people, not enough pandas. The serious bit:Polar bears
have been listed as a "threatened" species now. Too much C02, not enough pack ice :(. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the US Interior Department agency that evaluates endangered species, has declared
. They are the first species
to be listed due to global warming. The FWS, however, delayed this decision by more than a year in order for the Minerals Management Service (MMS), also part of the Interior Department, to complete the auction of land in the Chukchi Sea
for oil exploration
by environmental groups
), and only made its decision
at all because a court forced them to. The listing poses some interesting questions as under the Endangered Species Act anything that threatens a listed species is questionable. From a February article in Time
: ...If the species is declared threatened, FWS will have responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act to protect the bears from their main danger — in this case, climate change. That means the government could be challenged legally for anything that increases carbon dioxide emissions — like a new coal power plant — on the grounds that further climate change would further endanger the polar bear. "It would be the first time that the Bush Administration would recognize that global warming had a significant and specific impact on a living being," says Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesperson for Markey. "This could have a wide-ranging effect on the energy and environmental policies of this country."...
Unfortunately, Big Oil's politicians have seen through this. The maintain that oil exploration and production will go
on in the Arctic as they are sure it won't harm the polar bears or the other inhabitants. From the (this really good) LA Times article
:...But the department also issued special rules designed to exempt from the law offshore oil and gas drilling in prime polar bear habitat off Alaska's north coast. Moreover, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced he was taking a series of steps to short-circuit legal plans by conservation groups to use the polar bear's protected status to block new power plants and other sources of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to global warming. He said listing the polar bear as threatened "should not open the door to use the ESA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, power plants and other sources. That would be a wholly inappropriate use of the Endangered Species Act. The ESA is not the right tool to set U.S. climate policy."...
And a contender for Stupidest Politician Statement of the Year:"Interior secretary said he saw no reason to hold up the offshore leases because Fish and Wildlife Service scientists said the projected decline of the polar bear was due to vanishing sea ice, not oil and gas development."
But "conservation groups, however, have been gearing up to test that premise in court":...A Supreme Court ruling last year that defined carbon dioxide as a pollutant undermines the Interior Department's position, said Andrew Wetzler, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Under Massachusetts vs. EPA, he said, "you don't need to show that you can solve an entire problem by going after a specific source."...
This should be an interesting battle. I'm sad that all the local news had about it was a small line on Etv's scrolling bottom-of-screen news reel.
In other news, the small Alaskan village of Kivalina is suing
various companies because their island is crumbling and will be uninhabitable by 2012. Depending on how it goes, it might open the way for more suits in that vein.
* yes yes, I know they're not really bears