As a scientist at the moment, especially one who's actively involved in environmental topics and issues related to ecology, there may not be a more polarizing issue than that of "Global Warming". Courtesy of some bad science, and poorly-worded Laymen's terms by professionals in the area, there are large misconceptions regarding the empirically proven phenomenon and even those who strongly doubt its existence. Hiding a carbon footprint behind the guise of a natural "warming trend", the energy industry has continued its practices despite many models suggesting drastic ramifications. But the question that has surfaced now, is where will both sides meet? Would naysayers concede to science if continued denial meant the extinction of a species? A recent decision passed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not suggest so.
Turning its back on previous research, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service withdrew its proposal to list wolverines as a threatened species in the continental US this past Tuesday, Aug. 12 stating that insufficient evidence regarding the threat to the species had led to their change in decision. Previously concluding that climate changes as a result of global warming would greatly alter the snowy niché habitat of these bear-like creatures, that are known to live in alpine forests, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that its preliminary research had been too premature.
"This decision has been a complex and challenging one to make" U.S. Fish and Wildlife director, Dan Ashe said. "We know too little about the ecology of wolverines... We can't make a reasonable prediction that wolverines will like be endangered in the immediate future."
Despite independent research conducted by the agency, and an abundant amount of support behind the species from more than thirteen conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the wolverines will not be added to the list, but are willing to reconsider should information arise in the future.
In outrage over the shocking decision, many are calling into question the efficacy of the system which clearly allows for interpretation. "The Endangered Species Act requires this agency to follow the best available science, and in this case the science points in one direction" director of endangered species at the Center for Biological Diversity, Noah Greenwald said. "The agency went against its own biologists."
With scarce numbers in the wild, it is estimated that there are less than 300 wolverines left in the United States. As habitats receive less and less snow, wolverines are unable to create dens to survive cold winters, and breeding practices have been disrupted. And with dwindling numbers, conservationists fear that extinction of the species may occur before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rescinds its decision.
Hoping to urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider, a coalition of 13 conservation groups filed a 60-day notice of intent to file a lawsuit against the agency Wednesday morning Aug. 13, claiming that politics undermined the decision made earlier this week. And the groups state that they would even go as far as to sue the Obama administration if the well-being of the wolverines is not addressed by the agency.
Attorney for Earthjustice, Tim Preso says, "They [the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] are insisting on a level of certainty that won't exist until wolverines are extinct."