Polar bears listed as US threatened species

Polar bears, whose Arctic sea ice habitat has been greatly reduced by a warming climate, were listed on Wednesday as threatened under the United States Endangered Species Act. But the new protection was not accompanied by proposals to address climate change or drilling in the Arctic for fossil fuels.

Polar bears live only in the Arctic and depend on sea ice as a platform for hunting seals. The US Geological Survey has said
two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could be gone by 2050 if predictions about melting sea ice hold true.

US interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne acknowledged human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions contributed to the global warming damaging the polar bears’ habitat, but said the listing of the polar bear would not be "abused to make global warming policies."

"While the legal standards under the Endangered Species Act compel me to list the polar bear as threatened, I want to make clear that this listing will not stop global climate change or prevent any sea ice from melting," Reuters reported Kempthorne as saying. "Any real
solution requires action by all major economies for it to be effective."

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