Not so long ago polar bears were a symbol of cold, but these days they are a symbol of warmth. In the past few weeks it has become difficult to open a newspaper or web page _____64_____ seeing photographs of the beautiful yellowy-white animals leaping, or lying on sea ice in the Arctic, the newly helpless emblem of climate change. The traditional _____65_____ to polar bears — hunting, toxic waste, offshore drilling — have been overshadowed by a new one: the ice around them is melting, and we are to blame
This new threat is not new, of course — about as new as deforestation. But two things have put the polar bears on top of the vanishing ice, _____66_____ they pose unwittingly as the latest poster animals in a distinguished and photogenic parade of endangered pandas, gorillas, dolphins and whales. At the end of December, 2006, the US Secretary of the Interior _____67_____ that the US Fish and Wildlife Service was considering adding the polar bear to its list of threatened species. A three-month consultation process began in January, and the world's Arctic specialists have been making appointments to deliver their expertise. This is a more significant addition to the at-risk list than a rare gazelle or panther: it is an admission, after years of denial, of the _____68_____ of global warming. The Bush administration will no longer be able to disavow the effects of climate change if one of its departments has acknowledged such visible and dramatic effects. The polar bear appears to have done what environmentalists could not, and opened a window on a global crisis.