Monday, January 1, 2007

Pandora's Polar Bear

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed classifying the polar bear as a threatened species. What makes this unusual is that the bear is not threatened by humans. The polar bear is threatened by computer models.

This action could set a really fat precedent because computer models are much more dangerous than humans. It is estimated that at least one half of all living species are threatened by computer models. Mitigating all these threats could keep the FWS busy, not to mention rich and powerful, for years to come.

The problem is that some computer models say the Arctic ice cap will disappear in about 40 years, give or take a century. Polar bears live and work on the ice so this might be a problem for them, we don't really know.

Just to be sure the FWS wants to invoke the Endangered Species Act, to give them dictatorial, sorry, administrative powers now to help the may someday be out of work bears. This especially means designating critical habitat (land, lots of it) where the bears can do whatever they are going to do when there is no ice to do it on. Artificial ice is also a possibility.

Mind you the bears are fine for now so send your BearCare packages to the Pandas as usual. In fact the polar bears might do very well on land, where they used to live about 300,000 years ago, before they took to the ice. They were called Grizzlies then and were brown, to go with their decor. Perhaps we are trying to protect the color, not the bear. The FWS proposal is silent on this question.

The Pest has learned that the FWS is also studying another million or so species for possible classification as threatened by computer models. Comments on the polar bear proposal are due around April Fool's Day, but the Pest has yet to figure out just who the joke is on. Send your nominations to the FWS, not the Pest.

For more and funnier information, see:


Blogger Maalie said...

I'm afraid you are mistaken about the taxonomy. Grizzlies are quite closely related to Brown Bears, but not to Polar bears (though they are in the same genus Ursus). It is extremely unlikely that Polar's evolved directly from Grizzlies, more likely both species are descended from a common ancestor, now extinct. It is a genuinely separate species and, if endangered, deserves conservation measures appropriate for it.

January 02, 2007  
Blogger The Washington Pest said...

Regarding taxonomy, the Pest doesn't know from bears, except bugbears of course. But the FWS, who should know from bears, says on page 11 of the proposal that polars evolved from grizzlies (aka brown bears) and they can still mate. One might comment on that, to them not us. We want to get the science right, right? Right! For once. Computer models are exempt of course. They being what the IPCC calls tellingly, storylines.

Regarding Pandora over at FWS, she has on the books already plans to create migration zones to let all the animals move north as disaster rolls up from the tropics, highway over and underpasses included. The Parks and Wildlife Management Areas will move along with them no doubt. Them that can't run we will truck, along with the plants. Noah would have loved it.

The Pest

January 02, 2007  
Blogger Kennedy Maize said...

As for bears, in Alaska, what we call grizzlies, they call brown bears. I've seen them in a variety of colors, from black to brown to strawberry blonde. In any case, I've seen the Alaska bears up close and don't want to have any social relationships with the critters.
It strikes me that if computer models are threatening the species, the obvious solution is to change the behavior of the computer models. That is surely within our capabilities.
Finally, call me cynical, but it strikes me that the political bureaucreats at Interior understand that starting the listing process is a cheap and easy way to buy time and some slack from the greens. The actual policy and political decisions will be several years away, long after the current crew are enjoying their retirements.

January 02, 2007  

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