With less than two weeks left before his second term and his presidency as a whole ends, Barack Obama finds himself on a whole new level of busy. He was guest of honor at a farewell party last Sunday January 8, and then a just a couple of days later he gave a farewell address speech to the nation at his hometown of Chicago Tuesday January 10. Obama has made time for appearances on special occasions, including a journey to Pearl Harbor with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, passing opinions on a wide variety of current topics, and managing to pass some last few bits of executive decisions.

One of these concerns a buzzing little insect that has found itself in some dire straits, and President Obama has made sure that it's protected by officially declaring it to be endangered.

Bee in big trouble

The Bombus affinis, or rusty patched bumblebee, is a bee that's endemic to North America, once common in a majority of areas in the continental United States (and Canada). But ever since 1990 and beyond, its range and population has shrunk dramatically by a staggering 90 percent.

That was enough incentive for President Obama to have the Fish and Wildlife Service add it to the Endangered Species register.

Federal wildlife officials have posited that a combination of widespread pesticide use, disease, destruction of habitable environments, and of course the now ever present threat of climate change has contributed to the rusty patched bumblebee's decline towards endangered status. Meanwhile, in its Canadian range of two provinces, Bombus affinis is considered "at risk".

Making a good last impression

With Obama's directive of designating Bombus affinis as endangered, steps can now be taken to actively protect the species' remaining habitats and start phasing out the pesticides that have decimated their population. The rusty patched one is the first American bumblebee to earn this warning sign of a distinction, while seven other different species of bee have already been listed before, all of which are endemic only to Hawaii.

This measure is one of a number of eleventh-hour, last-minute exercises of executive power that President Obama has undertaken to both preserve the environment and reaffirm his administration's dedication to trying to do something about climate change. The incoming Trump administration has a contrasting view on climate change, but will not for instance be able to reverse the endangered designation of the rusty patched bumblebee even if climate change was cited as a reason for its addition.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more