News that the polar bear deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act is a first step toward recognizing reality. Unfortunately, the bear's decline is the tip of the iceberg, an early sign of the dangers America's wildlife faces with global warming.
Global warming pollution is melting the polar bear's habitat out from under it. The mighty bear is literally drowning, unable to swim increasingly longer distances between sea ice and land.
Sportsmen know all too well that global warming pollution is harming wildlife throughout America. Hunters and anglers are the first to sense and feel stress on the very web of life.
In Minnesota, heat-stressed moose are declining. In the West, critical snowpack that supplies cold water for trout streams and salmon runs is declining. Unprecedented wildfires are ravaging forests: the number of fires is up four-fold; acres burned are up six-fold.
Warmer water from global warming is destroying coral reefs. As global warming pollution imperils wildlife from the tropics to the Arctic, the 40 million Americans who hunt or fish are rightly concerned that their traditional values hang in the balance.
A national survey ("Survey Results" at www.targetglobalwarming.com) found that seven out of 10 American sportsmen are concerned that the fish and wildlife populations they rely upon will decrease significantly or disappear within the next decade. One cause fueling those worries, the poll found, is global warming.
The upside to all of this is that Americans know that when we follow our values we can accomplish anything. Among those already taking action are many not content to wait for politicians. They come from all walks of life.
More than 85 Christian evangelical leaders have signed a statement urging national mandatory limits on global warming pollution.
A first-ever Tribal Lands Climate Conference -- co-sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and Cocopah Indian Tribe -- recently gathered 150 leaders from more than 55 tribes throughout the United States.
California is moving forward with an initiative to cut global warming pollution by 25 percent by 2020. Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states signed onto the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 10 percent by 2019.
These are examples of steps in the right direction, but we can't stop there. Americans want a new energy future that breaks our oil addiction, develops clean, renewable energy sources and creates more American jobs.
The American way is not to run away from a problem. We have proven time and again that we are problem solvers. And if the people can lead, the leaders can follow.
We have a moral responsibility to solve this problem to protect our children's future.
Larry Schweiger is president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.1