American Elephants

The Obama Administration Moves to Lock Up Another 8.3 Million Acres by The Elephant's Child

Sigh!  The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a “critical habitat” for polar bears.

“Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department, said the designation would help polar bears stave off extinction, recognizing that the greatest threat is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.”

Polar bears are not in the slightest danger of extinction, nor are they “threatened.”  Arctic sea ice melts in the summer, freezes up in the winter, just as it has always done.

There are five times as many polar bears as there were 50 years ago.  In the 1050s, they estimated that there were 5,000 bears.  In 1965–1970, the estimate had climbed to 8,000–10,000 bears.  By 1984, there were estimates of 25,000 bears, and in 2005, the estimate was about the same — 25,000.

The “critical habitat” designation is an action that could restrict future offshore drilling for oil and gas.  The total area is about 13,000 square miles, and includes large areas of sea ice off the Alaska coast.  This would seem to be the actual reason for the action, and they are hoping you will swallow the protecting the bears hooey.

Obama came to office with big ideas for transforming America.  The centerpiece of his vision has been to  “unleash a clean energy revolution.” Along with that comes “advanced vehicle technology,” and a “leading physical infrastructure.”

Dr. Richard Lindzen, in his testimony to the House subcommittee  included a panicky summer 1922 report from the U.S. Weather Bureau about the melting ice, unheard-of temperatures, disappearing glaciers.  Similar statements were available for 1957, and in 1959, the Submarine Skate surfaced right  at the North Pole.  You would find it rewarding to read his whole testimony to the House Subcommittee on Science and Technology hearing on “A Rational Discussion on Climate Change; the Science, the Evidence, the Response.”

Polar bear encounters on the North Slope oil fields have risen to record levels the last two years, and the Canadian government has similar reports for the area around Churchill.  But actual evidence doesn’t count for much when lawyers for the Center for Biological Diversity (biological diversity is the next “big thing” for green enthusiasts, now that global warming is failing as an issue) who have filed a lawsuit to increase protections for the polar bear.  Kassie Siegel, their lawyer, hailed the decision.  “Now we need the Obama administration to actually make it mean something so we can write the bear’s recovery plan — not its obituary.”  Green lawyers always over dramatize. I wonder if she has ever been to Alaska?

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and the state’s oil and gas industry had complained that the preliminary plan was too large and dramatically underestimated the economic impact.  The designation would result in hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic activity and tax revenue.  Existing man-made structures will be exempted from critical habitat considerations, which means that five U.S. Air Force radar sites were exempted from the final rule, as well as Native Alaskan communities in Barrow and Kaktovik.

Officials face a December 23 deadline to explain why the bears were listed as threatened instead of the more protective “endangered.”  Possibly because they know it is hooey?

The federal government cannot manage to care for the national parks successfully. They cannot  care for the land they have already locked up so it won’t be despoiled by humans.  And they intend to lock up lots more in the attempt to make their green dreams sustainable.

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