28 December 2006

Don't look at us!

Conoco Phillips apparently doesn't know what to think about the decision to list polar bears as threatened:

Conoco Phillips spokeswoman Natalie Knox said it's too early to know what the proposal could mean.
Actually, no, it's not too early. Listing a species as "threatened" means that the government is barred from doing anything to jeopardize the animal's existence or its habitat. That, I gather, is fairly clear from the Endangered Species Act.

For Governor Palin, the implications are clear:
It is highly probable that among them will be third-party law suits, from litigants with a variety of motivations, to list large portions of Alaska's North Slope as Critical Habitat or to limit the emission of greenhouse gases throughout the United States.
In other words, "I just got elected promising the people of Alaska a natural gas pipeline and my budget depends on oil revenues from the North Slope and I'm not going to let some two-bit environmental organization or native group stand in my way!"

This paragraph follows the remarkable sentence, "In fact, there has been no decline in polar bear numbers," which I think is flat-out not true. Even if it is true, it skirts the equally important issue of the relative health of the polar bear population, particularly their weight, longevity, and reproductive ability, all of which will likely lead to further declines in the polar bear population.

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