Palin vs Polar Bears


Sarah Palin and Hugh Hewitt are both enraged at the decision to list polar bears as an endangered species. I've followed Hewitt's bizarre Colbertian horror at protecting polar bears the way I usually follow him, with morbid amusement and fascination. Here's a classic column from May. Palin's opposition to protecting the species brought her into conflict with the Bush administration's Interior secretary:

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne last week made the listing decision and said it was based on three findings. "First, sea ice is vital to polar bear survival. Second, the polar bear's sea-ice habitat has dramatically melted in recent decades. Third, computer models suggest sea ice is likely to further recede in the future," he said...    

Polar bear researchers fear recent effects of the loss of sea ice on Alaska polar bear populations. A 2006 study by the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that far fewer polar bear cubs in the Beaufort Sea were surviving and that adult males weighed less and had smaller skulls than those captured and measured two decades previously -- trends similar to observations in Canada's western Hudson Bay before a population drop.

A U.S. Geological Survey study completed last year as part of the petition process predicted polar bears in Alaska could be wiped out by 2050.

Kempthorne said last week he considered every point Palin made, and rejected them. However, he sought to limit the economic effect of the decision with the inclusion of "administrative guidance" that said the listing would not be used to create back-door climate policy outside the normal system of political accountability. He said that the threat to polar bears did not come from the petroleum industry.

I'm not sure what Palin's position on climate change is, but it would be worth asking.

(Photo: Knut by Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty.)