Environmentalists are in their normal state of righteous frenzy over the Department of Interior’s continued deliberations on whether or not to list the polar bear as “endangered” pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. Responding to a California judge’s decision ordering Interior to make their decision by May 15, Natural Resources Defense Council’s Andrew Wetzler said, “The science is absolutely unambiguous that the polar bear deserves protection.” The Center for Biological Diversity’s Kassie Siegel added: “The science is perfectly clear. There’s no dispute. The polar bear is an endangered species.” This rhetoric is 100% typical of the environmental movement. All scientists agree with us. There is no debate. Politicians need to conform to our agenda or we’ll all soon die. The problem in this case is that someone forgot to tell the Canadians.

An independent committee of scientists told the Canadian government last Friday that the polar bears are not, in fact, threatened or endangered. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada did give the bears a “special concern” status, though, Canada’s weakest classification. Chairman Jeffrey Hutchings announced: “Based on the best available information at hand, there was insufficient reason to think that the polar bear was at imminent risk of extinction.” Hutchings went on to explain that the polar bears were facing threats from over-hunting and oil and gas development, but that the current modeling is not reliable enough to determine exactly what impact global warming is having on the bear.

Canadian scientists are not the only ones who do not believe the polar bears are becoming extinct. The native Inuit Indians, a society that has depended on the polar bears for its livelihood for generations, also is against listing the polar bear as endangered. The Inuit no longer trust scientists after researchers drastically underestimated bowhead whale populations in the Arctic. Jayko Alooloo told The Canadian Press: “We don’t believe the scientists’ information any more. (Hunters) will ignore new quotas.”

Far away from any actual polar bears, in Joshua Tree, Calif., the Center for Biological Diversity’s Kassie Siegel was unrepentant when faced with evidence of scientific disagreement: “The only way that recommendation was issued for a ‘species of special concern’ was by simply ignoring projections based on global warming, and we think that was incorrect. That recommendation explicitly stated that the projections they used to classify the polar bear excluded the threat of global warming.”

And therein lies the danger of listing the polar bear as endangered pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. It would be the first time a species was listed on the theory that global warming was threatening its environment. The ESA is an extremely powerful law capable of grinding to a halt any government action that could affect a listed species. If polar bears, or any other species, were listed as endangered due to global warming, environmentalists would be empowered to stop everything from power plants, to new roads, to repairing bridges. Already, using existing laws and regulations, environmentalists have instituted a nationwide campaign to stop the construction of all coal power plants. A polar bear listing would not only ensure victory for them in that fight, but it would also give them a powerful new tool to stop federal government infrastructure spending everywhere. Let’s hope the Interior Department sides with the Canadians on this one.

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