Two months ago, Jessica Pupovac wrote a piece for us about the Department of the Interior's auctioning off of almost 30 million acres of prime polar bear habitat to oil companies in February, as well as the DOI's decision in January to postpone its ruling on whether polar bears deserve status as an "endangered" species. (Any hint that there might be perhaps some connection between these two events is, of course, vilely slanderous to the good men and women working for the Bush administration.) Well, yesterday, that long-delayed decision on the polar bear's status was announced, and the administration made a meaningless, symbolic concession to reality by admitting that the polar bear is "threatened." Why meaningless? [Interior Secretary Dirk] Kempthorne said it would be "wholly inappropriate" to use the protection of the bear to reduce greenhouse gases, or to broadly address climate change. … [snip] The department outlined a set of administrative actions and limits to how it planned to protect the bear with its new status so that it would not have wide-ranging adverse impact on economic activities from building power plants to oil and gas exploration. … [snip] But when asked how the bear will be afforded greater protection, Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, had difficulty coming up with examples. I hate to drone on about this repeatedly like some drunk in a bar, but admitting you have a problem (and then doing absolutely nothing to resolve it) cannot even be considered the first step on the road to recovery. All it really means is that you're an addict with some degree of self-consciousness.
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Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.
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