Courtesy of the Washington Post, Senator James Inofe (R-OK), noted climate change "skeptic" who denounces leading scientists as alarmist, on yesterday's polar bear ruling:
"It's unfortunate that the debate has become more about timelines than actual science," said Inhofe spokesman Matthew Dempsey. "What has become clear . . . is that listing the polar bear as a threatened species is not about protecting the polar bear but rather advancing a particular political agenda."
Of course, Judge Claudia Wilkins cited extensive science in declaring the administration's delay on the listing violated the law. Science like that cited by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA, who is calling again for a halt to oil drilling plans in the Chukchi Sea that further endanger the bears' habitat, both directly and as a result of increased climate impacts:
“It is imperative that Secretary Kempthorne does not put the rig before the bear,” said Markey. “The Bush administration must suspend all actions on finalizing the Chukchi oil leases until they have determined what protections the polar bear needs in such a vital habitat.”
Polar bears are totally dependent on Arctic sea ice for survival, and the rapid warming of the Earth is destroying their ice habitat. In the most thorough study to date, Interior Department scientists, including the team leader who appeared before the Select Committee, determined that under current trends, disappearing sea ice would result in a two-thirds drop in the world population of polar bears resulting in the disappearance of polar bears from Alaska by 2050. One of the population centers considered under the “greatest” threat is the Chuckchi Sea habitat, according to the study.