Petition to save the polar bears delivered to DOI

by Ryan Patterson

April 22, 2009

I have a giant poster with pictures of polar bears on it next to my desk. It reminds me of one of the reasons I work at Greenpeace: to help those that can’t help them selves.

The polar bear was listed as an Endangered Species in the waning Bush days, but global warming was removed from the list of threats that must be considered when assessing federal activities that might further endanger the polar bear. Polar bears, as we all know, are under grave threat from human-induced global warming, as their icy habitat is melting away (read more here). This is similar to being admitted to the hospital, only to be told that you won’t be receiving treatment!

In an effort to mitigate global warming and to save the prestigious polar bear, I headed to the Department of the Interior (DOI) in Washington, DC today and brought along two polar bear friends as well as some young activists (view a slideshow). We delivered a petition with nearly 85,000 signatures to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s office. The petition asks him to revoke the Bush regulations that undermine the Endangered Species Act protections for polar Bears.

Greenpeace activists at the DOI

After a long wait in the moody spring weather, a sharp representative from Secretary Salazar’s office – Ray Rivera, Director of External and Intergovernmental Affairs for the DOI – came out to greet us and take the petitions off our hands. Mr. Rivera noted that he “really had to hand it to us” because he “had already seen polar bears in four different states!” (One of the other states was California; we were there to welcome Sec. Salazar when he visited last week). I guess people are concerned about polar bears all over the country!

Greenpeace activist Ryan Patterson talks to Ray Rivera of the DOI

Rivera also assured us that Sec. Salazar is committed to scientific principles (Obama could have said this himself). This leaves us hoping that Sec. Salazar will use his authority to repeal the illogical and dangerous regulations that bar the polar bear from serious protection under the Endangered Species Act, so that dreamers like me can savor our polar bear posters rather than mourn them. But Sec. Salazar only has a limited time to exercise this authority!

We’ll be delivering more peitions to Salazar on May 7 and May 8, because the deadline for him to take action to save the polar bears is May 9th. Biodiversity is something we can all value, and it is clearly unacceptable to watch a species dwindle away until one day it vanishes completely. You still have time to sign the petition and help save the polar bears!

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