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"This listing will not stop global climate change"
May 14, 2008 9:22 PM   Subscribe

I can’t express how extremely disappointed I am that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has chosen to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act," Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski said in a statement issued today.

The Department of the Interior Secretary himself, Dirk Kempthorne, stressed his decision was compelled by the Endangered Species Act, "perhaps the least flexible law Congress has ever enacted."

"But [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...To make sure that the Endangered Species Act is not misused to regulate global climate change, I will take the following specific actions..."

You can find more from the US government, including sea ice photos, audio and video clips, and a statement from the US Fish & Wildlife Service director, here.

Here is coverage from the NY Times, Scientific American, the Wall Street Journal, and others.
posted by salvia (61 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
You'd think the drunken trees would have been a hint, but no.
posted by dhartung at 9:31 PM on May 14, 2008


"It opens the door for many other Arctic species to be listed, which would severely hamper Alaska’s ability to tap its vast natural resources."

Horror of horrors.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:48 PM on May 14, 2008


I feel his pain, really.
posted by Juglandaceae at 9:51 PM on May 14, 2008


This is why I glare at people when they tell me I have too pessimistic a view of the future of humanity.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:51 PM on May 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, at least now I know what to think about this. If Ted Stevens is "disappointed and disturbed" about the action, then it's almost certainly a good decision.
posted by Galvatron at 9:58 PM on May 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Um, did I miss the part where he actually mentioned the number of polar bears? Whether past, present, future, modeled, sampled, anything?
posted by FuManchu at 10:00 PM on May 14, 2008


Oop, sorry. Couple estimates in the first OP link -- 12k late 60s, 25k today, gone when the ice goes.
posted by FuManchu at 10:04 PM on May 14, 2008


> I miss the part where he actually mentioned the number of polar bears?

This is politics; your science is not welcome here.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:05 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Lisa Murkowski remarks that Canada lists polar bears only as species of special concern (one step above threatened). This is true right now, but this is actively under review right now. See, for example, the tail-end of this item on the CBC website. I would be very surprised if this did not change in the next few months.
posted by bonehead at 10:07 PM on May 14, 2008


I am afraid that this decision opens a Pandora’s Box that the Administration will now be unable to close.

Oh yeah. THAT's the misstep that'll unleash hell on future generations. The polar bear policy!
posted by rokusan at 10:10 PM on May 14, 2008 [22 favorites]


Holy living stupid fuck. Yes, this will put a crimp in Alaska's economic growth plans. People - it's goddamned Alaska. It's a frigging wilderness. We can live without raping it. These stupid idiot Alaskan senators should make their #1 job getting people the hell out of Alaska, not creating jobs.

Fuck - this makes me incoherently mad. You stupid fucks.
posted by GuyZero at 10:25 PM on May 14, 2008 [9 favorites]


Interesting. I just learned that both of Alaska's Senators are colossal assholes. I thought it was only Mr. Intertubes.
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:29 PM on May 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


They eat people! For the love of Pete, they’re big, angry bears.
posted by 2sheets at 10:30 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yer Not the Ocean

and

Gus: The Polar Bear from Central Park

You have to love a band that uses polar bears in its songs and videos.
posted by bwg at 10:32 PM on May 14, 2008


Dammit. Glenn Beck is on to my fiendish plot to clone an army of temperate zone tolerant bears to eat all the humans. Now what am I gonna do with these ovulating bears in my desert island lab?
posted by crataegus at 10:40 PM on May 14, 2008


They're gonna say this is global warming. It has nothing to do with global warming. This is a concept called climate change. It is a concept of a process that's been going on for years...
What the fuck?
posted by agentofselection at 10:45 PM on May 14, 2008


> These stupid idiot Alaskan senators should make their #1 job getting people the hell out of Alaska, not creating jobs.

Agreed. Unfortunately, they're actually paying people to live there, and working to get people to move there, build stuff there, and generally rape the wilderness with as much gusto as possible.

This really shouldn't be surprising, though -- it's the same thing virtually anywhere in the U.S., and much of the world. When you base your entire economy, and arguably your entire civilization, on the concept of "growth" uber alles, this is the sort of shit you get.

Until we realize that growth isn't a good thing, and find alternatives to growth-based policies, you'll never do anything about attitudes like that. The Alaska senators are cast-iron assholes, but their attitude is endemic; I've seen it across the political spectrum from the local to the Federal level, varying only in its form but not really its substance.

Distasteful as they are, those particular politicians are a symptom of a much, much greater problem in our society, and one that we're apparently trying very hard to ignore.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:46 PM on May 14, 2008 [18 favorites]


"which would severely hamper Alaska’s ability to tap its vast natural resources."

I believe in this case he's using the word "tap" in the same way a misogynist would use it when referring to a particularly attractive woman, and what he would like to do to her.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:55 PM on May 14, 2008 [17 favorites]


So... Alaska is populated mostly by people who hate Alaska?
posted by Artw at 11:10 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


That guy is so freaky. Like, who made him?
posted by zekinskia at 11:10 PM on May 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd "tap" that wilderness for orz...

Agreed with all of the above who notice that these people are assholes concerned with all the wrong things...
posted by Windopaene at 11:11 PM on May 14, 2008


They're gonna say this is global warming. It has nothing to do with global warming. This is a concept called climate change. It is a concept of a process that's been going on for years...

It's the same dishonest shit Republicans have been doing through the three branches of government and their wing in the Fox media channels: if the right-wingers can't get their way, and even if they do get their way, they reinvent words and ideas to distract and confuse important reality-based issues. It's not gambling, it's privatized Social Security. It's not torture, it's interrogation. It's not global warming, it's climate change.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:25 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"It opens the door for many other Arctic species to be listed, which would severely hamper Alaska’s ability to tap its vast natural resources."

I didn't know polar bears were made of oil.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 11:41 PM on May 14, 2008


Metafilter: A series of tubes concept of a process that's been going on for years
posted by finite at 11:50 PM on May 14, 2008


God, I hate Dirk Kempthorne. Such a weenie. We used to heckle him at parades when he was the mayor of Boise.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:20 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I fucking swear, I'm embarrassed to be human.
posted by -t at 12:38 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not global warming, it's climate change.

No, that's the most frequently-used scientific term these days, probably only because "climate weirding" doesn't really roll off the tongue. It's an acknowledgment that not all areas of the earth are going to warm up, and that temperature isn't the only thing about the climate that's going to change. That the government is misunderstanding the shift in phrasing does not mean that they made the term up.
posted by one_bean at 12:44 AM on May 15, 2008


Dear Alaska, please stop electing total fucksticks.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:25 AM on May 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sen. Stevens: Glenn Beck, do you realize that in addition to protecting water, why, there are studies underway to protect salt, flour, fruit juices, soup, sugar, milk... polar bears. Polar bears, Glenn Beck, fuzzy polar bears.

Glenn Beck:
Lord, Ted.

Sen. Stevens: You know when environmental protection first began?

Glenn Beck: I... no, no. I don't, Ted.

Sen. Stevens: Nineteen hundred and forty-six. Nineteen forty-six, Glenn Beck. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious polar bears without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works.

Glenn Beck: Uh, Ted, Ted, listen, tell me, tell me, Ted. When did you first... become... well, develop this theory?

Sen. Stevens:
Well, I, uh... I... I... first became aware of it, Glenn Beck, during the physical act of love.

Glenn Beck: Hmm.

Sen. Stevens: Yes, a uh, a profound sense of fatigue... a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I... I was able to interpret these feelings correctly. Loss of essence.

Glenn Beck: Hmm.

Sen. Stevens:
I can assure you it has not recurred, Glenn Beck. Polar bears uh... polar bears sense my power and they seek the life essence. I, uh... I do not avoid polar bears, Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck: No.

Sen. Stevens:
But I... I do deny them my essence.
posted by gompa at 2:34 AM on May 15, 2008 [23 favorites]


Dang! There goes my business plan for a "Uncle Dave's Polar Burgers".


/I need a moment.
posted by RavinDave at 2:36 AM on May 15, 2008


“This abuse of Endangered Species law will have a devastating impact on the entire nation through endless litigation and regulation."

Right! You people worrying about the massive deficit, and how the rest of the world doesn't trust us, and the disappearing of your Constitutional protections - forget all that! Endless litigation and regulation is looming! It will drain our precious bodily fluids essences!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:02 AM on May 15, 2008


My general rule of thumb is if Ted Stevens hates it, it must be good.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:59 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dare I? Dare I?

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by notsnot at 4:02 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any species that can make a movie like Dr. Strangelove is alright with me.

Maybe a little nucular winter will calm you guys down. It's just a little warming. Simmer down. We have to break a few eggs, people. Break a few eggs.

The real problem is that y'all don't see the forest for the trees. Warm or cold, nature will adapt. People will adapt. It's evilution people. Evilution. And further, we will be around to see it. Now, then, the problem we face, my fellow Americans, is will we have an economy by then? Take a look at the debt. Take a look at the entitlement programs. These guys at TED have got warming covered. It's global spending that we need to worry about.

I say invade Alaska now, while we can still afford it.
posted by ewkpates at 4:15 AM on May 15, 2008


We live in a great democracy. a liberal democracy. And that means that our elected officials usually express what their constituents, the people who vote them into office, think, believe, want...and here we have anolther instance of states' rights being overrun by federal interference. But now it seems we have come to a point in history where the silly or stupid or just plain dumb ideas of the locals are left to accept what might be a wiser group of volices thinking about the nation and its fujture rather than local self-serving cupidity.
posted by Postroad at 4:38 AM on May 15, 2008


I have stood on the sea ice at Barrow and watched hungry polar bears walking into the town looking for human trash, which should not be happening

I've also watched them out on the ice, moving with singular grace and speed like a silver flash

We are so fucked, and so guilty of fucking ourselves; there are times when I think humanity sort of deserves what's about to come down on us
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:55 AM on May 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


You know what I would pay to see?

Steel Cage Match: Glenn Beck vs. Big Angry Polar Bear.

actually, toss in Murkowski & Kempthorne too... I know it would be over quickly, but those few moments would be sooo worth it.
posted by jammy at 5:10 AM on May 15, 2008


Wow, a lot of Alaska hate going on in this thread. Those senators do represent the view of most of the people who live there, believe it or not. Alaska is vastly underpopulated compared a lot of the U.S. For example they have 1.06 people per square mile, compared to 27,282/sq mi in new york city, and 80/sq mi in the U.S. as a whole.

It isn't like Alaska is on the precipice of unrestrained growth about to fill up with skyscrapers or something. The growth that is happening there is happening over a tiny amount of space. Relax.
posted by delmoi at 5:13 AM on May 15, 2008


Those senators do represent the view of most of the people who live there, believe it or not.

Curious as to how you know this to be true, delmoi... for example, I happen to think that the senators for my state are full of shit - and I know I'm not the only one.
posted by jammy at 5:23 AM on May 15, 2008


hey, what about us bi-polar bears?
posted by kitchenrat at 5:45 AM on May 15, 2008


I work in Alaska and I *love* the place and (many of) the people, no hating going on here, though I will say that Alaska politics is more corrupt than the average state, and that's saying something special given how thoroughly corrupt all politics in the US has become under Bush.

Alaskans are not of one mind on this; the Iñupiat folks I work with are conflicted as well; oil and development mean money and resources for them; subsistence hunting is core to their culture; respect for the earth and the sea and the creatures therein and thereupon is basic to their world view. Polar bears, when they walk into town, are a threat to their children. The degradation of the ecosystem, of which (as they well know) the declining health of top predator species is a clear marker, is also a threat to their children.

Not everything boils down to yes or no, democrat or republican. We need oil from Alaska; we need Alaska to remain pristine wilderness as much as possible.

Conserve, people; save the polar bear by driving less, turning down your thermostat, and all the rest. What we do is connected, and no one is off the hook for responsibility here.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:58 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bears eat beets, people. BEETS. Do you want the bears to get all the beets? I didn't think so.
posted by inigo2 at 6:04 AM on May 15, 2008


save the polar bear by driving less .. What we do is connected

Well said. Channel your angst. Confucius say: a good man makes a good family. A good family makes a good community, which makes a good town, which makes a good county, which makes a good state which makes a good nation which makes a good planet.
posted by stbalbach at 6:53 AM on May 15, 2008


...underpopulated...
Why do there have to be people everywhere?
posted by nowonmai at 7:05 AM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


What we do is connected, and no one is off the hook for responsibility here.

I'm doing my bit. I've sacrificed by giving up golf!
posted by ericb at 7:11 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


save the polar bear by driving less, turning down your thermostat, and all the rest. What we do is connected, and no one is off the hook for responsibility here.

Except that this is exactly what the senator is against - that people will have to change their behaviours because polar bears are endangered. In the interview he basically positions polar bears as a threat to freedom.

He's basically Stephen Colbert, except he's serious.
posted by GuyZero at 7:16 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think Alaska is particularly deserving of hat. Kempthorne, a federal official, practically apologizes to industry for the listing. He talks about how he tried to get the Endangered Species Act changed, and how horribly inflexible it is. His point is, "if I could've done anything different, I would have." So, the feds are not some knights in shining armor protecting the polar bear from the natives. I'm curious, when did the US government get to the point that officials apologize to industry for decisions, even at the moment they're announcing those decisions?
posted by salvia at 7:59 AM on May 15, 2008


of hat!? Ha. Of hate.
posted by salvia at 7:59 AM on May 15, 2008


that people will have to change their behaviours

That's what they want you to think, for sure. For example, in 2sheets' interview link above, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) says, "I mean, you can be on my patio in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with your outdoor cooker and have Fish and Wildlife say, well, you can’t do that because you might kill the polar bears." But do you think they actually believe that would happen? Fish & Wildlife is not going to do that. They basically have to be sued to do anything. Some group might sue the government over, say, giving a permit to open a new coal power plant, or the fuel efficiency standards, but not a backyard BBQ.
posted by salvia at 8:07 AM on May 15, 2008


where is Iorek Byrnison when you need him?
posted by snofoam at 8:56 AM on May 15, 2008


...underpopulated...
Why do there have to be people everywhere?


I agree! FIRE UP THE OVENS !!!

After we clear the human population out of AK what state should be next? CA, NY?...

I think all the human haters should step up and off themselves, you know, for earth's sake.
posted by a3matrix at 8:59 AM on May 15, 2008


fourcheesemac sez: We need oil from Alaska

I think need is a bit much, and basically precludes any discussion of the pros and cons of getting that oil.

salvia sez: I don't think Alaska is particularly deserving of hat.

In fact, they are particularly deserving. It's cold up there.
posted by snofoam at 9:04 AM on May 15, 2008


It's cold up there.

deserving of hat
posted by salvia at 9:13 AM on May 15, 2008


I think all the human haters should step up and off themselves, you know, for earth's sake.

Oh, come on. Thinking that humans don't need to fill every corner of the globe does not equal hating all humans. Have a little perspective.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:23 AM on May 15, 2008


I think all human-hater haters should step up & offer themselves as willing sacrifices, you know, for the polar bears... cuz they's so hungry.
posted by jammy at 11:36 AM on May 15, 2008


Another factor driving politics in Alaska: most of the state is federal land. When 60% of your state is owned by a pro-oil overlord, these sorts of attitudes get elected.

I would appreciate being allowed to stay here in Alaska despite our general fuckwadness in the political arena. Just because you guys down south have already ruined your wilderness doesn't mean we shouldn't have the chance to ruin our own.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:48 AM on May 15, 2008


...underpopulated...
That might be because it's an arctic wasteland. It's significantly more population-dense than Greenland. It apparently falls between the Falkland Islands and Western Sahara as far as density goes^. That sounds pretty reasonable to me. As for why you would compare the state of Alaska to the city of New York, that's beyond me.
posted by agentofselection at 1:47 PM on May 15, 2008


Have a little perspective

It's been pretty well-established that perspective is the enemy of Freedom™. What, are you some kind of frenchie-terrorist?
posted by aramaic at 2:54 PM on May 15, 2008


Dear Alaska, please stop electing total fucksticks.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:25 AM on May 15 [3 favorites +] [!]



I suggest you move to Alaska and change the political climate. Pun intended.
posted by brickman at 6:36 PM on May 15, 2008


Yea, so probably nobody is reading this anymore. BUT I think it's interesting really in a deeper way than "GAWD WHAT A FUCKSTICK."

See, the thing is that this changes everything. (which is good.)

Anytime anything can possibly interfere with an animal on the endangered species list, an environmental impact assesment has to be done. I'm kind of intimately acquainted with this, as we just managed to ruin a logging company's chances at logging a section of forest they had rights to because there's an endangered snail that lives there and no place else on the earth. A snail. A snail with an estimated density of like 10 an acre. A year of the study found about 2 snails. Seriously. Logging would have destroyed snail habitat, and so they had to stop following an injunction. Turns out we lost, but their rights expire soon. Howzabout that?

Making the polar bear endangered means you cannot do ANYTHING to harm its habitat, and that anything that MIGHT harm its habitat has to have an impact assessment done, which takes about a year at the least. No pipelines, no bridges to nowhere. I mean really, it means no roads. No drilling. No lots of stuff. Which is good, mostly.

What's fun is that the Fish and Wildlife Service pretty much has dominion over everyone else, in terms of jurisdiction and authority. This isn't over...it'll be interesting to watch it play out.
posted by TomMelee at 8:17 PM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, y'know, with a third of our global biodiversity destroyed within my lifetime, I'm thinking it's not such a bad idea to save the snails.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on May 16, 2008


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