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E-M:/ For Immediate Release: AS DECISION ON POLAR BEAR NEARS, GREENPEACE ,CALLS ON REP. UPTON TO TAKE ACTION



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Enviro-Mich message from Justin Trezza <justin.trezza@wdc.greenpeace.org>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Justin Trezza, Greenpeace, 908.601.9100, justin.trezza@wdc.greenpeace.org

*AS DECISION ON POLAR BEAR NEARS, GREENPEACE CALLS ON REP. UPTON TO TAKE ACTION *
/GROUP SEES CONNECTION BETWEEN THREATENED POLAR BEARS AND WARMING IN MICHIGAN /


WASHINGTON (February 15, 2008) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon decide if the polar bear should be considered a federally “threatened” species due to the melting of its Arctic habitat by global warming. Greenpeace says that the polar bear’s plight and the Bush administration’s continued inaction on global warming should force Rep. Upton to take immediate action.

“We’ll know soon if the Bush administration will acknowledge that global warming could drive polar bears to extinction,” said Justin Trezza, Greenpeace global warming field organizer. “It might be too late for polar bears, but it is not too late to protect Michigan if we adopt the many solutions available right now to slash greenhouse gas pollution. Those who are appalled by the polar bear’s threatened future should demand that Rep. Upton take action on global warming now.”

Polar bears live only in the Arctic and are totally dependent on the sea ice for all of their essential needs. The rapid warming of the Arctic and melting of the sea ice pose an overwhelming threat to polar bears, which could become the first mammal to lose 100 percent of its habitat to global warming.

Listing the polar bear will guarantee that federal agencies will be obligated to ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out will not jeopardize the polar bears’ continued existence or adversely modify their critical habitat, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have been required to prepare a recovery plan for the polar bear, specifying measures necessary for its protection.

“Urgent action is required by Congress to protect the planet, which is under a dire threat from global warming,” Trezza said. “Rep. Upton should sign the Safe Climate Act, the strongest bill in the House of Representatives. It’s the only piece of public policy that takes a comprehensive, scientific approach to stopping global warming.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, and Greenpeace sued the Bush administration in December 2005, because the government had ignored their petition to protect the polar bear. As a result of that lawsuit, in February 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that protection of polar bears "may be warranted," and commenced a full status review of the species. A settlement agreement in the case committed the Service to make the second of three required findings by December 27, 2007, at which time the Service announced the proposal to list the species as “threatened.” By law, the Service is required to make its final listing decision within one year of the proposal.

Since the petition to protect polar bears under the Endangered Species Act was first filed in February 2005, new science portends a dim future for the polar bear. In September the U.S. Geological Survey predicted that, based on polar bear distribution and current global warming projections, two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population would likely be extinct by 2050, including all polar bears within the United States.

Global warming is worsening, with impacts in the Arctic outpacing predictions. September 2007 shattered all previous records for sea ice loss when the Arctic ice cap shrank to a record one million square miles – an equivalent of six times the size of California – below the average summer sea-ice extent of the past several decades, reaching levels not predicted to occur until mid-century.

Shrinking sea ice also drastically restricts polar bears’ ability to hunt their main prey, ice seals. In the spring of 2006, scientists located the bodies of several bears that had starved to death. Reduced food availability due to global warming has also caused polar bears to resort to cannibalism off the north coast of Alaska and Canada.


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/Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization with 2.7 million members worldwide that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions for the future./

--
Justin Trezza
Global Warming Field Organizer
Project Hot Seat
Ph: 908.601.9100
justin.trezza@wdc.greenpeace.org


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