Commentary

Polar Pawn

As thoroughly obvious as it is that the federal Endangered Species Act is employed more often to secure political benefits than actual benefits to wildlife, it is still a little surprising to see a quote like this in the press:

“Basically we said, ‘List the polar bear, and when you list the polar bear, you’re going to have to do something about greenhouse gas emissions.’ The fact all these other parties are suing over it shows the Bush administration doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on — they know the administration has to do something about greenhouse gas emissions.”

— Kassie Siegel, climate program director, Center for Biological Diversity

That statement comes from a Washington Post article over the weekend, investigating the exemption of Alaska from a rule intended to protect the rest of the states from greenhouse gas emission regulation as a result of the listing of the polar bear. From a scientific standpoint, the exemption makes no sense, since of course emissions in Alaska are no more or less likely to effect polar bears than emissions anywhere else on the globe. Bjorn Lomborg, special guest at the upcoming Reason Goes Hollywood event, has a cooler take on these unfortunate pawns in the global warming debate.

Skaidra Smith-Heisters is a policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Her research is part of Reason's New Environmentalism program, launched by Lynn Scarlett, which develops innovative solutions to environmental problems and emphasizes the benefits of local decisions over Washington's command-and-control regulations.

Smith-Heisters is a graduate of the University of California at Davis program in Nature and Culture. Prior to joining Reason, she worked in habitat restoration, endangered species management and natural resources planning with the California State Parks system.

She has been extensively involved in grassroots journalism and political organizing in San Francisco's North Bay area, where she currently lives.