Osos polares serán protegidos en Alaska

Polar bears will be protected in Alaska

Osos polares

The US government says land that oil and gas companies want to drill in Alaska is a crucial home for polar bears. Environmentalists hope this announcement will help save the endangered animals.

Reporter:
Rajesh Mirchandani

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Right now in an icy den in the Arctic, a polar bear is giving birth to cubs, or is about to. But the very survival of this fearsome, majestic species concerns many humans.

Polar bears live and hunt on sea ice, but the frozen Arctic Ocean is melting at an increasing rate, a result, scientists say, of global warming caused by greenhouse gases.

Now the US government has designated nearly half a million square kilometres in Alaska as critical habitats for the polar bear. It covers an area of roughly twice the size of the United Kingdom, and it means any proposed economic activity there, must be weighed against its impact on the bears’ habitat. It includes some of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, exactly where the oil company, Shell, wants to drill.

The designation itself doesn’t ban oil exploration, but it adds extra hurdles that opponents say will harm the economy.

Environmentalists welcome the move, saying now, they can write a recovery plan for polar bears, not an obituary.

Rajesh Mirchandani, BBC News, Los Angeles

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majestic species
especie majestuosa / poderosa

melting
se está derritiendo

global warming
calentamiento global

designated
designado / eligido (un área específica)

critical habitats
hábitats esenciales

weighed against
comparada con / considerada cuidadosamente

oil exploration
exploración petrolífera

hurdles
obstáculos

harm
causarán daño a / afectarán en forma negativa (la economía)

an obituary
obituario

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