Not being used to this sort of thing, I'm naturally having a hard time getting the words out, so I'll just say it as plainly as I can: President Bush did something really, really great this week. (I wonder if this means I have to turn in my "Arch Liberal, Destroyer of Freedom and Enemy of Liberty" credentials. I hope not; I think the signed glossy photo of Alec Baldwin simultaneously burning an American Flag and eating pages of the Bible has a high potential value as a collector's item) The Christian Science Monitor has the exciting details:
With the stroke of a pen, President Bush has established the largest ocean wildlife reserve in the world, centered along a string of islands, reefs, and atolls that stretch 1,400 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Other reef systems, such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef, are larger. But only a third of that UN-designated World Heritage reef is protected, analysts say, leaving far more of it open to exploitation.
The move comes from an administration not known as the darling of the environmental and conservation crowd. But it's drawing kudos from a variety of marine-conservation groups. The region's relative isolation has allowed it to retain some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world. The president's proclamation Thursday, which designated the area as a national monument, immediately created a reserve that covers some 140,000 square miles, more territory than all of America's national parks combined.
"This is just amazing," says Ellen Athas, ecosystems-protection director for the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, who served on the president's Council on Environmental Quality under Bill Clinton. "This is an important first step in protecting some of the world's healthiest reefs for future generations."
Way to go, Mr. President! Now if we could only convince you to give a damn about anthropogenic climate change. . .