With the Arctic suffering the most pronounced effects of that change, the polar bear could become the first species ever listed as endangered due to global warming. But on Monday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would not meet today's deadline to issue its recommendation on the matter to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The issue isn't as straightforward as one might expect. As the Conservation article stresses, polar bear populations have greatly increased in recent decades, in part due to the oxymoronic-sounding practice of "conservation hunting." The article further explains how listing the bears would likely hurt Inuit communities and could even prove counterproductive to wildlife conservation. At the same time, however, the polar bear's habitat (not to mention the Inuits') is severely threatened, as underscored by the extent of Arctic sea-ice melt last summer, which blew away all previous records. The ramifications of the melting trend are such that a U.S. Geological Survey report issued last year shockingly concluded that two-thirds of the world's polar bears -- and all of Alaska's -- would die-off by 2050. Certainly, that would seem to meet the definition of "endangered." No?