Under pressure from global warmista groups the Bush administration plans to list the polar bear as an endangered species. This is despite the present polar bear population in excess of 20,000 and growing.
While acknowledging polar bear populations are not currently in decline, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne stated in a news release, "we are concerned that the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting." If the bear is listed as threatened, it will be the first time a species was placed on the Endangered Species list based on the threat of global warming.
Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council had previously sued the Bush administration, attempting to force it to list the species as threatened.
Environmental activist groups have offered anecdotal evidence that four polar bears drowned while swimming in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, and that three polar bears attacked and ate other polar bears, allegedly due to hunger.
In addition, environmentalists contend human activities are causing global warming and that such warming will melt most of the ice at the North Pole within 50 years. If that happens, they argue, polar bears will be unable to hunt seals, their preferred prey, without the polar ice.
Since the 1970s, while much of the world was warming, polar bear numbers increased dramatically, from roughly 5,000 to 25,000 bears, a higher polar bear population than has existed at any time in the twentieth century. Scientists believe polar bears thrived in the past in temperatures even warmer than at present--during the medieval warm period 1,000 years ago and during the Holocene Climate Optimum between 5,000 and 9,000 years ago.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are approximately 22,000 polar bears in about 20 distinct populations worldwide. Only two bear populations--accounting for about 16.4 percent of the total number of bears--are decreasing, and they are in areas where air temperatures have actually fallen, such as the Baffin Bay region.
By contrast, another two populations--about 13.6 percent of the total number--are growing, and they live in areas where air temperatures have risen, near the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea.
Analysts see the proposal to list the polar bear as threatened as not so much about the welfare of the bears themselves but as an effort to force the Bush administration to adopt regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions. "If the administration admits that the bear is dying due to climate change, it may be forced to start energy rationing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act. This is what the environmentalists filing the lawsuit had in mind all along."
In other words, the global warmistas will use any means necessary to force their agenda on the hapless human population of the planet.