Bush administration waffles over Arctic ice but science doesn't

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The Bush Administration may be unsure as to why Arctic ice is melting, but the scientific analysis in its proposal to designate polar bears as a threatened species is quite clear on the matter.

As reported in The New York Times, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne told reporters although his decision to seek protection for polar bears acknowledged the melting of the Arctic ice, his department was not taking a position on why the ice was melting or what to do about it.

“That whole aspect of climate change is beyond the scope of the Endangered Species Act,” he said.

Scientific studies in the proposal itself, however, identified the cause as continued buildup of heat-trapping gases which, left unchecked, could create ice-free Arctic summers in as little as three decades.

The Interior Department has a year to gather and study comments on the proposed listing and make a final determination. It must also work out a recovery plan to control and reduce harmful impacts to the polar bears, usually by controlling activities that cause harm.

It is unclear whether a recovery plan could avoid addressing the link between man-made greenhouse-gas emissions and the increase in Arctic temperatures, the Times said.

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