The Bush administration is finalizing changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that could make sure that federal agencies wouldn’t have to take global warming into consideration when evaluating risks to plants and animals. The new rule would block federal officials from having to consider a carbon cap.

The main purpose of this change is to eliminate the long-held provision that required independent scientific review to be performed by either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

The rule states: “Federal agencies are not required to consult on an action when . . . the effects of such action are manifested only through global processes and (i) cannot be reliably predicted or measured at the local scale, or (ii) would result at most in an extremely small, insignificant local impact, or (iii) are such that the potential risk of harm to species or habitat are remote.”

Read my original post on Bush’s midnight changes.

Yet animals worldwide are facing threats from global warming. An article from Scientific American lists polar animals that are imperiled by global warming. Among those listed are thin-shelled shellfish, Adeile penguins, walruses, Artic sea ducks, polar hears, narwhals and hooded seals. Also at risk are amphipods, diatoms and krill, and all those higher in the food chain that rely on them.

“In a very short amount of time, you’re going to drastically rearrange that [polar] ecosystem,” says Brendan Kelly, a marine biologist at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. “There will be some biological community there, it just won’t look like anything like what’s been there.”

A report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that half to three-quarters of major Antarctic penguin colonies will likely experience significant decline or disappearance due to climate chance.

“From polar bears in the Arctic to penguins in the Antarctic, climate change is having a devastating impact on animals around the world,” said Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, managing director of species conservation for WWF. “Penguin colonies on Antarctica have already experienced sharp declines over the past half century as rising temperatures have diminished sea ice conditions and the penguins’ access to food.”

The latest critter found to be a victim of global warming is the koala. Koalas are likely to die in greater numbers due to new dangers they have to face as a result of climate change- more intense bushfires, increasing temperatures and drought, and drop in nutrient levels of food. Rising greenhouse gas concentrations increase toxins and lower nutrients in eucalyptus leaves. Koalas will have to travel further to forage, and travel by ground, where they are more likely to fall victims of dogs and cars.

With all this adding up….how can we not take global warming into account when dealing with endangered species???

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