Even using model projections that have underestimated the rapid rate of sea-ice loss in the Arctic, scientists predict that two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be lost by 2050 and many much sooner. Already bears are drowning, starving and resorting to cannibalism; their populations are declining as the sea ice diminishes each year.
In May 2008, in response to a scientific petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Bush administration reluctantly agreed to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. But it classified the polar bear merely as threatened rather than endangered, which carries more protection. At the same time, it issued a special rule exempting greenhouse gas pollution -- the primary threat to the species -- from regulation under the Act. Such a rule can only be issued for species listed as threatened.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration, and particularly Interior Secretary Salazar, has been defending the Bush positions in court. But last week, in response to our lawsuit, the court ordered Salazar to reconsider whether the bear should be protected as an endangered species; a Bush administration decision that granted polar bears only partial protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Now we have just a few short weeks to convince the Obama administration to do what the law and science require. This means we have a small window of time to convince Salazar to break with flawed Bush policies and upgrade protection of the polar bear from threatened to endangered.Please, ask Salazar to grant full endangered status to the polar bear today.
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