Global Warming and Polar Bears

(See here) a Washington Post piece written by Juliet Eilperin that reports the George Dubyah Bush administration is proposing listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Did anyone else feel the earthquake? I could have sworn I felt the earth move under my feet as I read Juliet's piece.

No big deal? Think about it, what steps have been taken to protect the Spotted Owl species in America's Northwest because it is listed as endangered?

Why do I bring up the comparison to the Spotted Owl? For a number of reasons. (See here) where Don Libby gives a fairly comprehensive yet condensed summation of what is at stake. As Don puts it:
The Spotted Owl is what ecologists call an "indicator species" or an "umbrella species": since this species occupies a niche that fairly high-up in the food chain, it is a good measure of what is happening to all the species below it in the whole ecosystem. When biologists say "the Spotted Owl is threatened" they mean the whole ecosystem that makes up the Spotted Owl's habitat is threatened. Since the law does not recognize "endangered ecosystems" but only recognizes "endangered species," a single species must be demonstrably threatened in order to take legal action to preserve it.

The polar bear is also high up the food chain, and the only thing that is going to save it in its natural environment is to save its ecosystem. The Dubyah administration is going to be handing ammunition to the environmentalists to be used in the courts to force something be done about global warming. Think about the Spotted Owl. The entire timber industry in the Northwest has been forced to change how it conducts business (and the timber industry might say nearly run them totally out of business) due to the need to protect the Spotted Owl.

My guess is there is going to be a lot of pressure, both public and behind the scenes, to get the Dubyah administration to withdraw this proposal. The WP piece indicates the only reason this step is being taken, at least at this moment in time, is in order to meet the deadline of a legal settlement.

Personally, I think it is rather doubtful that much can be done to save the polar bear. Even if mankind as a whole makes an honest and real attempt to roll back global warming due to greenhouse gases, the polar ice is going to continue to melt for the foreseeable future and the polar ecosystem is going to change dramatically.

However, perhaps if real action is taken, some remnants of supporting habitat might be saved for the polar bear. It will indeed be incredible if this action turned out to be "the straw that broke the camels back" and forced US society to change to alter global warming.

I am giving this listing too much importance? Think about it. Environmentalists are going to be willing to take corporations to court with donated legal expertise and unlimited donated funding from those who wish to "save the world" as well as the poor polar bear. Corporate enterprises are going to have to factor in the expense of endless legal action if they do not take steps to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Many are going to come to the conclusion that in the long run it will be cheaper to start doing something, start doing enough to keep the environmentalists placated then it will be to fight it out in the courts.

As I said, this morning I could almost swear I felt the earth move under my feet. It might have been my imagination or it might have been the real thing. We'll have to wait and see if the corporate business interests prove capable of influencing the Dubyah administration to shelve the proposal or not.

Stock tip: Might not be a bad time to put money into interests that have strong positions in renewable or at least greenhouse gas friendly energy sources. My understanding is that many of these interests have already been run up in price, however they still will be apt to benefit from this occurrence. It might not be a bad time to go short on the electrical generating corporations that made decisions to invest large sums in new electrical capacity based on old style, coal fired, steam generating plants. Even if the proposal on polar bears is swept under the rug, the public awareness generated by the proposal is apt to make these good investment steps in the long term.


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