Bush's Last Days Bring Protected Ocean Surprise
In George Bush’s final days as President he surprised conservationists throughout the world by proclaiming several parcels of ocean as National Monuments. Under the little known Antiquities Act the president has the authority to declare something to be protected as national monument. While it does not have the same ecological significance as a National Marine Sanctuary in the United States, it does offer some recognition to particularly important oceanic habitats.
Spanning about 195,000 square miles these new protected areas are 50 percent larger than all our national parks combined. About the size of Spain, they are just slightly bigger than the Phoenix Islands reserve established by the Pacific island-nation of Kiribati just last year. Kingman, Palmyra, Howland, Baker, Jarvis, Johnson and Wake Atolls ( known as the line islands.) as well as the Rose Atoll in Samoa have all be declared national monuments. Additionally, the Marianas Trench, the deepest spot on earth where only two humans have ever been, also received protection. These are some of the last few true wilderness areas on Earth. Due to their location within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone they’re also the newest protected areas of US territorial seas. Still, they represent just a fraction of what scientists consider an enough protected habitat to safeguard our sea. Despite the extreme remoteness of these areas, they’re still subject to all the threats our planet faces as a whole.
President Bush was undoubtedly the worst president in history when it comes to Ocean conservation, but looks like he made a few attempts to redeem himself in his final days in office. Now if only he hadn’t been such a huge supporter of offshore drilling, coal power, and put so much effort into disassembling the clean water act! Now that Bush is gone it will be exciting to see how Obama delivers on his promises of protection for the environment.