BUT DID THE RULING COME IN TIME TO SAVE THE POLAR BEAR?
Well, the good news, if you can call it that, is that the polar bear got finally some protection from the Bush Administration last week. The bad news is that in typical George Bush fashion, the ruling granting endangered species protection to the polar bear is chocked so full of loopholes favoring the oil companies and other corporate polluters that many, including Natural Resources Defense Council President, Frances Beinecke, believe that it will be years and a number of successful court battles before the legislation “offers any real protections”.
Sadly this should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the workings of the Bush administration, particularly when it comes to protecting the environment. Specifically speaking, one can only wonder if the polar bears, already living on borrowed time, will even be around by the time the Bush Administration’s ruling works its way through our court system, and is challenged by every two-bit polluter and oil company despot who ever bribed a congressman, or funneled undeclared money to a lobbyist?
The facts in this matter are indisputable; as I write this, the polar bears natural habitat is melting out from underneath them far more rapidly than even the most aggressive predictions had foreseen. Now I might be paranoid in making this observation, but as I see it, the only reason that the Bush administration finally went ahead and granted endangered species protection to the polar bears, after years of stonewalling, was because they knew that by the time that the ruling had withstood all challenges, Global Warming would have destroyed most of the Polar bears remaining habitat and the matter would become moot. Either way, with less than a year remaining on George Bush’s term, this matter would be someone else’s problem.
As angry as this sort of political gamesmanship makes me, I have to keep reminding myself that we are talking about a species of animal here, and in the Bush administration and corporate America’s worldview - an all too prevalent worldview in America today - the plight of animals means little when weighed against the potential for profit.
It is no secret that the oil companies have been maneuvering for some time now to get the right to drill in the Alaskan Wilderness preserve. Millions of dollars have been spent to sell this to the American people as the only viable way to end our nation’s dependence on middle eastern oil, and by extension the problems that come along with doing business in that region
The only problem with this contention is that it is not true. Granted it sounds plausible and to a nation of people concerned for their and their family’s future, sounding plausible is often all that it takes.
For the record, the only way to break our dependence on foreign oil is for this country to get behind cleaner, more modern power technologies such as wind, solar, hydrogen and cellulosic ethanol. Corn based ethanol, the standard in this country, is a fine example of what happens when corporations are allowed to dictate policy to politicians. Not only has this movement created worldwide food shortages, but the little publicized fact is that it takes more than a gallon of fossil fuels to make a gallon of corn based ethanol. More importantly, a gallon of corn based ethanol is only about 70% as effective as a gallon of the fossil fuels that it aims to replace.
So who benefits from this exercise, other than the corporations making the ethanol and receiving generous federal subsidies to do so? Certainly not you and me, that’s for sure! But this is a matter for another posting, so we won’t dwell on it here.
Returning to the protected species ruling, the oil companies’ official position is that it will prevent them from drilling in much of the wilderness. They further note that the ruling will force the establishment of buffer zones to protect nursing mother bears and their cubs from the deafening seismic testing, frequent spills, and other distractions so much a part of modern energy exploration.
Now in a better world, this ruling would be a catalyst for change, a reason to begin aggressively developing new sources of energy. But not here! Here it is just a cause for law suits pitting well heeled hired guns against an already overworked and underpaid infrastructure, bled to the bone by a president concerned for little other than that which benefits his rich friends. Sharing the blame for this is a corporate structure that would rather exploit existing technologies regardless of their potential harm to mankind then to spend the money required to make any of the newer technologies commercially viable.
To change this will take leadership the likes of which this country has not seen in seventy years, not since the days of Franklyn Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal. To change this will take great courage, courage of the sort exemplified by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and the previously noted FDR, but which we have not seen lately in this country.
One thing is certain, we cannot continue for much longer on the path on which we are heading, not and retain the essence of what is great about this country.
So my friends, it is up to each and every one of us to make this happen. The alternative is just too horrible to consider.