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May 1, 2008

Unbearable delay

Posted: 02:11 PM ET

AFP/Getty ImagesA federal judge says enough is enough - no more delay.  The Interior Department now has just 16 days to issue a decision on whether to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act because of global warming.

 The government was supposed to announce that decision by January 9.  But the Fish and Wildlife Service said it needed another month to make the complex listing more easily understood.  However, that month came and went, and environmental groups sued, leading to yesterday's court ruling.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken agreed with the conservation groups - the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Greenpeace - that Interior missed the deadline.  And she disagreed with a government request for another delay, ordering a decision be announced by May 15.

Judge Wilken ruled that Interior has been violating the Endangered Species Act for four months by missing the Jan. 9 deadline, and said the government has not offered sufficient justification for that delay, much less further delay. Interior has said it needed until June 30 to finish a legal and policy review of the proposed listing.

Environmentalists say they think the government is delaying the decision to make it easier for oil companies to get offshore oil leases in the Chukchi Sea, prime polar bear habitat.

The Fish and Wildlife Service proposed the ESA listing in December of 2006 because climate change is shrinking polar bear habitat.  Some scientists predict summer sea ice in the Arctic will disappear by 2030.  A U.S. Geological Survey study estimated that polar bears in Alaska could disappear by 2050.

Diane Hawkins-Cox    Senior Producer  CNN Sci-Tech

Filed under: Animals • environment

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casey   May 1st, 2008 6:19 pm ET

i feel so sorry for those polar bears! the humans are acausing all of their harm and now they're holding off their decision whether or not to put them on the endangered species list!? how rude!

Franko   May 2nd, 2008 4:23 am ET

Grizzly Bears are invading Polar Bear territory

McDonald's needs to primote Grizzly Burgers, before it is too late !

john   May 2nd, 2008 10:28 am ET

are you kidding me? when are people going to realize that there is no such thing as global warming? we have been here for a few thousands of years. the earth has been around for millions... I repeat... MILLIONS! there is nothing that we can do to this rock that it cant fix its self over time.

and here’s a good fact for all of you believers of Gore's BS... the amount of sulfur that is released in just ONE volcano eruption is a hundred times more then we have ever released into the atmosphere. sorry kiddos, no such thing as global warming... our planet goes through heating and cooling cycles. Don’t believe it, go talk to someone that is at least 80 years old and ask them about global warming. 😉

Chef Jeff T   May 2nd, 2008 3:41 pm ET

John – No such thing as global warming? Guess your science background is different than most every one else, because global climate shifts are as much as part of nature as plants and animals.

What you may mean is that you disbelieve that human beings are causing a global climate shift. OK, that I can accept, even though I disagree.

Climate shifts are caused by many things, amongst them being changes to the atmosphere. After some large volcanic explosions, the climate did indeed change, usually getting colder, but incidents have also been recorded in history when several centuries of warmer, milder weather was experienced in many otherwise colder, more dreary parts of the world.

Human beings use tremendous amounts of fossil fuels that were stored away inside the Earth. These stored carbons are being released in large quantities. Eventaully all the soot and carbon dioxide and methane will begin to register on the climate.

Denying this to be possible is merely sticking one's head in the sand. Believing it or not is a personal choice, but even if you don't believe it, if it is true, all your denial will amount to nothing. If it is not truem, then all the hysteria will amount to nothing. Catch me again in 10 years and we'll see what's happening, and decide who is right.

D-bag John   May 2nd, 2008 4:33 pm ET

Please explain to us why it is that all of sea ice is melting since your soooo smart.

Aussie Jane   May 2nd, 2008 5:17 pm ET

Sorry, putting them on a list is not going to save them. They are not being hunted, they are losing their habitat thanks in no small part to China and the U.S. from pollution. It's time to act to save them, not put them on some silly list.

Wally   May 2nd, 2008 5:42 pm ET

Survival of the fittest suggests that it's time for the white bear to leave our planet. If the government would allow nature to run it's course, we'ld problably have more oil wells in this region and Americans wouldn't be so gas strapped.

giniajim   May 2nd, 2008 7:28 pm ET

To John; agreed that we've only been here a very short time. And I agree that whatever we do to the earth, the earth will heal itself (we environmentalists use the adage: Mother Nature always wins in the end). That's not the problem, the problem is what happens to us poor homo sapiens in the meantime.
As for volcanoes and sulfur (really sulfur dioxide). Sulfur dioxide isn't a greenhouse gas. It does contribute to acid rain. Quoting from a Sam Houston University web site: "Volcanic eruptions provide a natural source of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. However the real problem associated with the production of sulfuric acid in the atmosphere is not with the sulfur dioxide expelled by volcanoes. Anthropogenic production of sulfur dioxide, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is largely responsible for damage caused by acid rain."

Luke   May 2nd, 2008 10:36 pm ET

Wooly Mammoths, Sabre-Tooth Tigers, ring any bells? They're not around any more, and it wasn't mankind that warmed up the Earth to cause the glaciers of the last ice age to receed. People think that by buying a hybrid car they're going to "save the Earth," but did they ever think how much additional natural resources it takes to build that new car? What nasty chemicals were used to make those batteries? No, it's the easy solution, all about "me" these days. People are unable to comprehend that there is a big picture.

It's unfortunate that the habitat of the polar bears is in a decline. The zoos of the world will hopefully keep the species alive, so that when the next ice age hits the polar bears will be able to have a population explosion, perhaps snacking on the humans fleeing when glaciers grind over New York City! In all serious though, it is tragic when species die out, and if we can preserve some of the diversity of life then we should. A look at all of the different species of fossils shows that the Earth can kill off species just well without human influence.

Atteon Freed   May 3rd, 2008 12:14 am ET

It should be clear by now to all free thinking citizens of The World Community, that the people in charge of setting government policy around the world are more concerned with filling their individual treasure chests with gold, than they are with working for the survival of life on earth!

We the people must realize and realize in a hurry, that the thought of doing what is in the best interest of the world community, and what is in the best interest of the earth in general, has given way to the thought of what is in the best interest of a few special interest groups.

As a result,... life on earth as we all have come to know it, is in danger of becoming a thing of the past!

It is a known fact that all oxygen breathing life forms on earth are in danger of going extinct, because of the life threatening effects brought on by global warming. We are poisoning our atmosphere beyond repair, in exchange for stashes of gold and silver. We must act soon to turn the tide of our own extinction back out to sea.

It is in this spirit that the foillowing link is printed here in this blog.

Life is precious! We must preserve it!

Queenie   May 3rd, 2008 1:15 am ET

Oh John. John John John John John.

My dear - lemme 'splain sumthin to YOU... Yes, the planet has gone thru and will continue to go thru cycles of global warming and cooling.. D'uh. HOWEVER, there are two OVER-RIDING factors, the neglect of which is at the ROOT of this MASSIVE PROBLEM (yes - it DOES exist), and those are, first, that world population (and its by-products) are increasing at exponential leaps and bounds. Google a timeline of world population growth - if you can see the forest for the trees you should have no problem grasping the implication of future projections... Worldwide food shortages (ummm - oh ya, that's in the news RIGHT NOW isn't it??), energy crises, banking crises, etc etc increasingly affect each other locally and globally almost instantly... (hey, we're all in this together whether you admit it or not).

And secondly, it is the RATE OF SPEED with which the earth is changing. Why is that SO hard for some people to understand? If I were to slowly push my fist into a tree trunk, push with all my might, and then slowly remove my hand, it might be a little sore but the impact is negligible... because my hand can ADAPT. But if I were to take my fist and slam it into the tree trunk, I would more than likely break it because the SPEED at which the event occurred, did not allow an ADAPTATION. Instead my hand is forced into shock, serious disruption of function, pain, and a fairly long recovery time. It's the same thing with the Earth John-O. According to TOP environmental scientists, and based on the findings of expert geologists, physicists, and many other "-ists", the Earth has NEVER cycled this fast... and so it can't ADAPT to all the changes being thrown at it once. Does this not seem logical? That's the cool thing about science - it has evidence to back it up - gotta love those scientists huh?

That is all.

Franko   May 3rd, 2008 2:12 am ET

Poor Polar Bears could use some entertainment and less pollution..
Antarctica has not only Seals, but also Penquins on the menu.
An Elephant Seal, at 3.600 kilograms could feed a Polar bear for;
3,600/40 = 90 weeks, or almost 2 years.

Perhaps introduce the Polar Bears in the sub-Antarctic islands.,
Reducing the Seal populations would enhance fisheries.
A win-win result for both humans and Polar Bears !

Chris   May 3rd, 2008 9:13 am ET

It is true that our planet goes through heating and cooling cycles. However, it is also true that certain events can have an impact on the heating and cooling of the planet. Massive volanic eruptions will dump enough ash into the stratosphere to cool the planet. Large destabilizations of the clathrate deposits have been shown to dump enough methane into the atmospeher to cause massive and sudden warming. What we've been doing over the past century has significantly added to the CO2 amounts in the atmosphere and our best evidence is that it is having an impact. The self regulatory or Gaia hyptheses put forward by Loveless says "oh, more CO2? Plants grow more. No problem" Which is true if we weren't also destroying vast amounts of rainforest and other CO2 stores.

Either way, you are correct, the eart wiull survive all this. No one is really all that worried about the earth itself. What we are worried about is humans not doing to well. We have a global society which is, for the most part, dependant on weather staying the way it is. Researching changes, looking at the causes of the changes, and going what we can to mitigate those changes simply makes sense. Your approach seems to be one of lying back and thinking of England rather than focusing on what's in front of our collective faces. Passivity gains us nothing.

JS   May 3rd, 2008 1:43 pm ET

Just what does begin 80 have to do with understanding the infrared optics of CO2?? I'm not even going to address your regurgitated Michael Cricton garbage. That's thoroughly refuted elsewhere. And sulfates tend to COOL the atmosphere, John, they don't warm it. Just like Mt.Pinatubo's eruptoin did. Sheesh, LEARN some physics if you're going to spout about it . . .

pdykstra   May 3rd, 2008 6:45 pm ET

A note from the editor: If you're looking for your comment here and can't find it, it's probably because I deleted it. And if I deleted it, it's probably because the comment contained personal insults toward another commenter. And it's a shame, because a few of the comments I knocked out also contained some very smart points - but also some very uncalled-for namecalling.

We really appreciate everyone's comments, and interest in the blog. All we ask is that everyone keep it civil and respectful.

Peter Dykstra
Executive Producer, CNN Science/Tech/Weather

Marie Zarankevich   May 3rd, 2008 7:56 pm ET

You're right! - Putting them on a list will not save the Polar Bears. - In any climate change, it is the largest animals that suffer most, because they take longest to reproduce, and adapt. - I am still wondering when they are going to give all those poor frogs their own Brita Water Filters to wear on their backs, so they can have clean water to drink, just like us! - Sorry folks, but we HAVE been far too selfish for far too long. - It is time to grow up and be responsible, all of us. - We ARE killing this world, and it is not ours to kill.

D Runyon   May 3rd, 2008 9:25 pm ET

This humanity caused global warming crisis kind of reminds me of the Salem witch hunts. The radicals want to burn everyone who presents a different opinion from their own!

Franko   May 4th, 2008 1:21 am ET

Poor Polar Bears could use some entertainment and less pollution..
Antarctic region has not only Seals, but also Penquins on the menu.

Perhaps introduce the Polar Bears onto the sub-Antarctic islands.,
Reducing the Seal populations would enhance fisheries.
A win-win result for the fish, humans, and Polar Bears !

Bill Mosby   May 4th, 2008 8:07 am ET

Does the recent IPCC statement about warming being on hold for the next 10-15 years have any relevance to this story?

Franko   May 4th, 2008 10:48 am ET

Look up Ferenc M. Miskolczi and Stephen Schwartz predicting low CO2 sensivity ; only 0.25 °C for doubling the concentration.

The atmosphere opens up and lets the heat out. Iris effect. When the Russians exploded their 50 megaton bomb, immediately clouds disappeared. letting the heat out.

Current state of climate modelling:
Basic greenhouse equations "totally wrong"

Daniel P. From Long Island, N.Y.   May 4th, 2008 3:42 pm ET

God's animals should not be harmed or killed by humans. We should protect them from the harms that we humans cause. Why is this so hard for so many people to accept ?

Solar   May 4th, 2008 8:11 pm ET

Lets not forget the 5,000 year old red wood that fell over in CA what 16 years now? It showed a pattern of hot, cold, wet, dry, the earth changes, and its arrogant to think a little steam and Co2 by man in a few hundred years changed anything. Deal with it, earth gets hot, cold, dry and wet.

Global warming is about as believeable as oh the 80's saying AIDS would wipe out the world by 2002. Welp it's 2008 and another lie to fund another scientists money pit.

Trust me, if we damage the planet... the planet will swat us off and start life anew. God or no god. The force of Nature will find a way to change things. What controls the force of thats religions job.

este   May 4th, 2008 10:06 pm ET

The polar bear population is at an all-time high. Pretty hard to call them endangered. Besides which, the villages need to be able to shoot nuisance bears. Relocation doesn't work with animals which can navigate such great distances. Alaska does not need outsiders to tell it how to manage Alaskan wildlife.

hwb   May 5th, 2008 9:10 am ET

I have long held the belief that a law should be enacted to use up
all available and stored fossil fuel within 12 months, and to spend
whatever that takes and make it happen. Yes, that would create a
big mess, changing the carrying capacity of the earth, not only for
humans, and reparameterizing many things. But, the sky will eventually
be blue again, be it in ten, 100, or 1000 years, probably even less,
and everything will be fine then, and no amount of effort will
restart fossil fuel air pollution for much, much longer than that.
In the meantime, by the way, climate change is not the issue, it
is at most a side effect of humans raiding the planet in many ways.
I don't quite understand why we focus so much on derivatives than
working on the root issues. I guess it is because a derivative has
media attention right now?

hwb   May 5th, 2008 10:01 am ET

PS: Uh, forgot, the point about 12 months was obviously because I
am not sure what else would make us take action and look into REAL
alternatives, unless we cram a requirement into the time horizon
attention span of people, including elected officials.

Hypocracy 08   May 5th, 2008 3:39 pm ET

1950 – Nuclear Holacaust
1960 – Baby Boomer food shortage by 84
1970 – Global Cooling
1980 – AIDS
1990 – CFCs and the OZONE
2000 – Global Warming (guess we beat the 70s problem)

The problem we are going to face with this panic is the new regulations that will run all manufacturing out of America... then we can all starve from unemployment!

AZM   May 5th, 2008 3:54 pm ET

Hypo .. You said it!

1950 – Nuclear Holacaust
1960 – Baby Boomer food shortage by 84
1970 – Global Cooling
1980 – AIDS
1990 – CFCs and the OZONE
2000 – Global Warming (guess we beat the 70s problem)

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

This petition has been signed by over 19,000 American scientists.

Da Captain   May 5th, 2008 4:22 pm ET

The Glacier Bay ice field in SE Alaska receded by 40 miles between surveys in 1794 and 1879. The rate of melt has been consistent since then. Global warming is apparent. The anthropolgic contribution in question. How would the alarmists explain this fact in light of their contention that man has induced the polar ice cap melt?

Dave   May 6th, 2008 8:40 am ET

Aussie Jane: No, simply putting polar bears on some list won't save them. However, putting an animal on the Endangered Species List obliges our government to do many things that improve its chances. For example, failure to regulate greenhouse gasses (which impact the polar bears) could be a violation of the Endangered Species Act, so environmental groups could sue to force our EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses.

Sometimes we have to use whatever legal tool we have to get our government to do what's right.

aw   May 6th, 2008 5:24 pm ET

These blogs are great. Many people have great points, on either side of the issue.

I have a background in Paleoclimatology and have worked with ice core data gathered during the early 90's from within the Greenland icesheet.

Global Climate change theory is based upon a reconstruction of earth atmospheric conditions going back over 650,000 years at this point. We know the reconstruction to be fairly accurate because there are mulitple ways to confirm the same data point in time.

What we see are multiple occations of atmospheric cooling and heating, cyclical for many natural reasons. Those tempurature spikes in the continuum that coorelate with co2 spikes are assumed to be a cause and affect. Although this is an assumption, the coorelation is exact. As such, we can safely assume that an increase in co2 in the atmosphere, however it gets there, will result in an increase in atmosperic tempurature. The Greenland data I saw revealed a 50 to 70 year lag in the affect between increasing co2 and eventual coorelating tempurature increase.

The 650,000+ year data continuum also shows major extinction patterns occur simultaneous to major tempurature fluctuations. The last extinction, resulting in estimated 50% land, 90% ocean is the most similar in co2/tempurature change to what we've experienced during the industrial revolution. I can't remember exactly, but it was around 80 to 100 ppm change in co2 levels. We are currently at a post-industrial change of 100 ppm and climbing rapidly. We can only estimate similar affects to the Earth's inhabitants based upon historical extinction data in coorelation to climate data. The proof is still in the putting. I for one don't want my grandchildren to find out the hard way. We are an intellegent people and can surely find alternatives to petroluem without destroying an economy. At least, that seems to be what alot of economists think...and the're the specialists on that note. God Bless and forgive the misspellings.

Franko   May 7th, 2008 2:30 am ET

Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, the ice-core man, disputes accuracy:

More accurate is density of stomata on leaves:

Google for "canada polar bear" under news:
Canada knows best, USA has only small percentage of Polar Bears

Long live the Polar Bear, even if we have to relocate them to Antarctica

Jo   May 7th, 2008 7:27 am ET

Global warming is just like the Red Scare, when people were jailed because someone accused them of being communist. Now anyone who doesn't believe that the Earth is being fried is called an idiot. I really don't see what the problem is.

Daniel P. : God gave animals to humans. Read Genesis before you say we shouldn't kill them. Yes, we should be responsible with them, but God does NOT tell us that we can't hunt them.

Giniajim: So we can counter this global warming "threat" by dumping sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere?

Franko   May 8th, 2008 12:15 am ET

"So we can counter this global warming “threat” by dumping sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere?"

SO2, acting as an aerosol, would have to change the albedo.
Temperature is a function of incoming radiation and albedo.

According to Ferenc Miskolczi; we are in greenhouse saturation.
Adding large quantities of any greenhouse gas will only change
temperature slightly, because water vapour gets removed to
compensate, maintaining constant optical depth.

Hard to change incoming radiation from the Sun.
But is possible to change the albedo (percentage absorbed.)
(paint your roof black or white – absorbed or reflected to space)

A try for evening out Earth's temperature is to improve ocean circulation. Ice ages started when North and South America joined, blocking circulation. (Radiation is proportional to fourth power of temperature, so we could expect higher average temperature.)

Greg Baylous   May 11th, 2008 9:02 am ET

I've been watching the Earth's rotational axis and have noticed a definate shift. I believe that the rearranging of minerals in the earth and the industralization of the "top countries" above the equator has causes a 1 degree magnetic shift in the earths axis. This changes the location of the poles and draws them to a new location which is warmer....thus causing them to melt...not greenhouse gasses! Greenhouse gasses play a small part, but not to this magnitude.

Mark Ferbet, Grain Valley Missouri   May 14th, 2008 3:23 pm ET

Hey John.......

You probably wake up every morning telling yourself that President Bush is the greatest President this country has ever seen...

You also probably believe that all the Scientists that say different, are foolish, uneducated, and full of ............

But that's ok... because your comments pretty much set the standard for that....

Mustafa   May 17th, 2008 1:12 pm ET

Hahaha. People like John are in the majority. We educators fail students when we have to join in the grade inflation farce, we fail them when we cater to the administrators and the bottom 10% whose favourite statement is "Where do we use this in real life" . The result is people like John there. Uneducated with a BA, MBA or whatever... I sit back, and enjoy the ride...

AzSteve   May 18th, 2008 6:58 pm ET

All of you are wrong! Polar bears cause global warming and those damn penguins are helping them do it.

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