Polar bears live largely on bodies of frozen seawater. Whether you subscribe to global warming as a man-made causal factor or a natural planetary life-cycle does not change the mounting evidence that ice formations are experiencing accelerated melting. Understanding that sea ice and glacial melting are facts, the United States federal government designated 187,157 square miles in Alaska as a polar bear critical habitat. Mainly, large areas of sea ice off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
The Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA) and the state of Alaska filed a lawsuit in early March, 2011 against the federal government; claiming that it is far too much space to give to an animal that, according to their perspectives, is not suffering any ill effects. They further state that the amount of land the federal government wants to set aside is 25,000 square miles larger than the state of California. The supplicants in this lawsuit are missing the federal government’s actual point to this particular dilemma; which is the rapid depletion of the polar bears’ natural environment. The federal government declaring this area a critical habitat will not stop the ice masses within the zone from accelerated liquefaction. This means the land set aside for this habitat will continue to shrink in size.
Ice is a mass that has always experienced reduction and expansion. However, saltwater does not freeze in the same manner as freshwater. It takes much colder temperatures for longer periods to initiate the process. Further, the density of saltwater increases as it cools causing it to sink away from the mass prior to freezing and adhesion, resulting in slower ice formation. The pivotal variation to the natural process of ice melt off comes in with the steadily increasing temperature of the planet. The more rapidly seawater melts the warmer the planet becomes. More of the sun’s solar energy is able to penetrate and heat smaller ice masses; rather than deflect it as it would normally, causing a more aggressive cyclical warming reaction.
Apparently, the petitioners do not care to confuse facts with their corporate and political indignation. Glossing over the reality that the polar bear was added to the endangered species list, as a direct result of the rapid deterioration of their natural habitat; the first species to be added to the list because of unprecedented planetary warming. Alaska is prepared to stand by the oil industry’s philosophy that the species will adapt to a new way of life; overlooking data that clearly indicates mortality rates among cubs are on a sharp incline.
Here is what is most perplexing about this lawsuit. The continued action to thwart the federal government’s efforts emerges penny-wise and pound-foolish. Designating the zone as a habitat for polar bears does not actually prevent economic or developmental growth to the area. What it does do is makes any purported growth to the area subject to review. In other words, the federal government wants the state of Alaska and oil companies to be accountable for their actions.
Where is the downside? With all of the oil disasters that have occurred and the long-term ecological fallout that soon follows; it is about time they were made to be accountable. The United States federal government is putting into practice the sage advise, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and deserves acclamation for this initiative. It is about time corporations, particularly those in the oil industry, realized they live in this world and not above it.
Suggested contacts for ending this frivolous lawsuit, case number 3:2011cv00025, in support of the United States federal government’s initiative to protect the endangered polar bear habitat are found at the Animal Life Forum link listed below.