” The listing today acknowledges the fact that we’ve lost habitat, which is sea ice, which is essential for polar bear survival.” - Lyle Laverty, Department of the Interior
” The U.S. government based its decision to protect the polar bear on computer modeling that were based on the reality of global warming.” -Andrew Wetzler, Natural Resources Defense Council
In an unusual decision, the Interior Department declared the polar bear species to be officially “threatened,” under the Endangered Species Act, because of global warming. Scientific evidence shows that the shrinking Arctic ice cap will no longer support the polar bears’ habitat by the middle of this century. The implications of this ruling are not entirely clear. In this video,
a Bush administration official and an environmentalist discuss the announcement’s impact on the climate change debate.
One question to ask your students as they watch this video is, “What’s familiar here, and what’s new?” In other words, when they listen to these two men debate, what information did they know and what information did they learn while watching?
The polar bears’ plight can energize and reinforce student exploration of global warming, habitat, and uses of scientific research - just to name a few of the relevant issues. Are human beings literally driving polar bears into extinction?
Do you believe in the connection between human activity and the Earth’s warming? Why have Polar Bears been likened to a canary in a coal mine? What name would you suggest for a polar bear cousin to Smokey the Bear, using the slogan: “Only You Can Prevent Global Warming.” What can you/we do to help the polar bears?
Below are web links related to this story.
Science Unit Report: Bears Listed as ‘Threatened’ Due to Loss of Arctic Ice
Extra Story & Activities: Polar Bear Listed as Threatened Species
Science In-Depth Report: Polar Discoveries
Science In-Depth Report: Global Warming Debate
U.S. Interior Dept: Press Conference On Polar Bear Listing
National Resource Defense Council: Global Warming
National Resource Defense Council: Polar Bears
Polar Bears International: Bear Facts