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Protecting the Bearded Seal

Alaska Oil and Gas Association and American Petroleum Institute challenged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) 2012 decision to place the bearded seal under the protection of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The purpose of placing the bearded seal on the endangered species list is to help protect the animal and its natural habitat, which is in Arctic waters.

Oil drilling in the Arctic region is a longstanding concern as an environmental hazard, as there is no successful means of cleaning up an oil spill in this type of water. In addition to the cleanup complication, this region is warming at twice the rate of other planetary temperature increases. Further, fossil fuel use is one of the more significant contributors to the greenhouse gas emission of carbon dioxide, which covers the planet like a thick blanket and warms the planet. This warming is causing the rapid depletion to the bearded seal's habitat, in the Bering and Okhotsk seas. Projections have Arctic ice melting to nearly 40 percent of its size by the middle of the 21st century, without immediate corrective measures. This is a problem for the seals, as they give birth and nurse their young on the packed ice.

The oil industries see the ESA as a legal means of extorting their profits, and with the United States track record towards that business, it is a reasonable assumption. However, conservationists see the ESA as a means to produce greater public awareness towards environmental realities. As much as any one person might believe these issues are of no consequence towards their ability to live, this is inescapably flawed logic. Researchers that study the history of planetary extinction concur; despite the circumstances, a significant imbalance of carbon dioxide was involved. It is difficult to refute more than 4 billion years' worth of data. Therefore, in protecting animals like the bearded seal and their habitat, the ESA also serves to protect the right for people to live.

The amount of carbon dioxide produced by most of the global population is at an intolerable production rate, and the Earth is communicating that by reengaging the process of planetary extinction. If societies continue to ignore the clear pattern of planetary behavior, it speaks poorly towards humankind's ability to utilize deductions of reason. Regardless to a person's thoughts on the inevitability of 'Armageddon,' the artificial increase of carbon dioxide produced by humans is an avoidable causal factor. Perhaps the real message behind the ESA is, 'he who invents a wheel that works - wins, and the rest will pay the price for using ineffective outmodes.' In other words, rather than spending tens of billions of dollars on faulty equipment that breaks and spills toxins, and having to line the pockets of politicians for that privilege, consider using those resources to build alternate energy options that are environmentally friendly. There will always be a need for energy. However, with the growing hurdles of the ESA, energy corporations that switch to an environmentally sound means of collection would enjoy keeping their profits; rather than spending it on lawsuits against organizations like NOAA, only to pay large concessions, which permanently cuts into the bottom-line.

This is Deb Duxbury, for Animal Life, reminding you to please spay or neuter your pet.

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