Wednesday, December 27, 2006

:: Death & Saving the Polar Bear from Extinction ::

I awoke this morning to NPR reporting the death of former President Gerald Ford.  RIP. 

For those of you too young to remember, Gerald Ford is the only President (outside of Bushes first term) unelected as President when he took over for Nixon after he resigned in disgrace.   Unfortunately, he pardoned Nixon.

Ford was the only occupant of the White House never elected either to the presidency or the vice presidency. A former Republican congressman from Grand Rapids, Mich., he always claimed that his highest ambition was to be speaker of the House of Representatives. He had declined opportunities to run for the Senate and for governor of Michigan.

He was sworn in as president Aug. 9, 1974, when Richard M. Nixon resigned as a result of the Watergate scandal.

"My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over," Ford said in his inaugural address.

"I believe that truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our government, but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad."

Ford had become vice president Dec. 6, 1973, two months after Spiro T. Agnew pleaded no contest to a tax evasion charge and resigned from the nation's second-highest office. The former Maryland governor was under investigation for accepting bribes and kickbacks.

In the 2 1/2 years of his presidency, Ford ended the U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam, helped mediate a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Egypt, signed the Helsinki human rights convention with the Soviet Union and traveled to Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East to sign an arms limitation agreement with Leonid Brezhnev, the Soviet president.


When he assumed office, Ford immediately made clear his intention to change what historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. called "the imperial president."

In retirement, former Presidents Gerald Ford and Carter created Project Vote Smart, a wonderful program of individual platforms regarding various political candidates.  I refer to them fairly often when I am trying to find information regarding different elected and hoping to be elected individuals.   Basically, Vote Smart provides tools to help inform you, the voter.  It is also nonpartisan.  Vote Smart also invites politically minded students to work with them and learn first hand about their work.


The Polar Bear, long threatened by the melting of the Polar Ice Cap (due to Global Warming), may have finally breached the gates of a government who a) doesn't believe in Global Warming and b) doesn't give a damn about critters and the nature of ecosystems.   The Bush Administration plans to list the Polar Bear as "Threatened" (with extinction) under The Endangered Specie Act at the urging of various environmental groups over the past several years. 

The Bush administration has decided to propose listing the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, putting the U.S. government on record as saying that global warming could drive one of the world's most recognizable animals out of existence.

The administration's proposal -- which was described by an Interior Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity -- stems from the fact that rising temperatures in the Arctic are shrinking the sea ice that polar bears need for hunting. The official insisted on anonymity because the department will submit the proposal today for publication in the Federal Register, after which it will be subject to public comment for 90 days.

I will followup this evening with the Federal Register information for public comment.  I urge all of you to prepare remarks on the legislation and be very direct in your answers.  Comments are not snark or derogatory statements and care must be taken when responding officially.  Statements expressing facts for or against the legislation are necessary to receive any attention.  You can often provide such statements through interest groups such as The Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Greenpeace, and others.  Groups usually have more power, but in the case of this Administration, environmental groups may have a lesser impact.

The fact of the matter is, environmental groups put pressure on the administration to do something like this to protect the Polar Bear from extinction.   Whatever is proposed by Bush, be prepared for a lot of loopholes letting them off the hook to drill for oil in ANWR or any other place them deem eligible for oil drilling. 

Identifying polar bears as threatened with extinction could have an enormous political and practical impact. As the world's largest bear and as an object of children's affection as well as Christmastime Coca-Cola commercials, the polar bear occupies an important place in the American psyche. Because scientists have concluded that carbon dioxide from power-plant and vehicle emissions is helping drive climate change worldwide, putting polar bears on the endangered species list raises the legal question of whether the government would be required to compel U.S. industries to curb their carbon dioxide output.

"We've reviewed all the available data that leads us to believe the sea ice the polar bear depends on has been receding," said the Interior official, who added that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have concluded that polar bears could be endangered within 45 years. "Obviously, the sea ice is melting because the temperatures are warmer."

Northern latitudes are warming twice as rapidly as the rest of the globe, according to a 2004 scientific assessment, and by the end of the century annual ocean temperatures in the Arctic may rise an additional 13 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, researchers predict that summer sea ice, which polar bears use as a platform to hunt for ringed seals, will decline 50 to 100 percent. Just this month, researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research outlined a worst-case scenario in which summer sea ice could disappear by 2040.

By submitting the proposal today, the Interior Department is meeting a deadline under a legal settlement with three environmental advocacy groups -- the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace -- that argue the government has not responded quickly enough to the polar bear's plight. The department has been examining the status of polar bears for more than two years.


Scientists have not charted the same rapid decline within the U.S. polar bear populations, but federal scientists have observed a number of troubling signs. The bears have resorted to open-water swimming and even cannibalism in an effort to stay alive.

It is going to be extremely important to comment during the 90-day Administrative Rule period.  If the language of the 'Rule" is BS, then it will be even more critical to have a hell of a lot of people commenting.  Additionally, rules are interpreted by the agency administering the program - in this case, interpretation of ESA.  This administrations record of administering the ESA has been tragic and horrifying.  Therefore the rules need to be very precise and not general in nature.

More info tonight.

I have to go to work.  Rats. 

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