TAKING THE WHEEL: The EPA will begin hearings today to decide whether to allow California, 13 other states and the District of Columbia to set tougher regulations on tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks — a move that would reduce vehicles' contribution to global warming but could also make them initially more expensive for consumers. The hearings are the result of an order President Obama made to the EPA shortly after taking office, directing the agency to reconsider its 2007 denial of the states' proposal under the Bush administration. While loudly opposed to such governmental interference in the past, automakers' financial indebtedness to taxpayers and Uncle Sam has gagged them in this fight, the Los Angeles Times reports. Rather than sitting on their hands during the hearings, they're skipping them, letting an industry trade group be their attack dog instead. (Sources: USA Today, LA Times)

GENEVA CONVENTIONAL: It's not just American automakers being scrutinized for their carbon-heavy ways. An international consortium that includes the U.N. announced today from the Geneva International Motor Show a target for car companies and governments worldwide to cut their emissions in half by 2050. In addition to curbing greenhouse gas pollution, proponents say this "50 by 50" initiative will help keep the transportation sector viable in a leaner, low-carbon economy. Evidence that luxury automakers such as Aston Martin, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Rolls-Royce are on board is scant, however, at the Geneva auto show, the New York Times reports. The show, which opens today and runs through March 15, features many companies that "seem unapologetic about the prospect of warming the globe with their mega-horsepower internal-combustion engines," the Times reports. (Sources: The Guardian, NY Times)

CONSERVATION TO GO: Magellanic penguins are moving out of their traditional — and legally protected — habitat at Punta Tombo, Argentina, onto private, unprotected land farther north. They're following the anchovies they eat, which have moved north due to changing seawater temperatures fueled by global warming. This highlights a fallacy that could undermine our earnest attempts to protect animals' habitats — we've assumed their habitats are permanent. That's the focus of an intriguing feature in the Christian Science Monitor today, which examines whether it's possible to somehow create mobile wildlife preserves that can follow endangered species as they flee their warming habitats. (Source: CS Monitor)

INDIA INC.: India, one of the world's top emitters of carbon dioxide, is growing more open to jointly combatting climate change with one of the world's other leading polluters, the United States. A U.S. concession on a long-standing nuclear dispute — agreeing to share civilian nuclear technology with India despite its refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty — reportedly paved the way for the two economic giants to collaborate on curbing carbon. For more on international CO2 emissions and carbon diplomacy, see Translating Uncle Sam. (Source: Agence France-Presse)

SMELT DOWN: California fish and wildlife officials have granted new protections to two species of fish — the longfin smelt and the delta smelt — that are deemed ecologically key to the degraded Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Federal scientists say the tiny delta smelt are on the brink of extinction, and that both species are important links that keep the fragile delta ecosystem running. Farmers aren't pleased however; the protections will likely mean cutting the state's water supplies for crops, as well as for cities. Opponents of the smelt protections say they'll only pile onto drought and economic hardship already plaguing California's agricultural industry. (Source: Associated Press)

JELLYFISH SUSHI: About 20 percent of the animal proteins we eat come from the sea, but a triple whammy of overfishing, pollution and climate change is drastically reducing fish stocks worldwide — a problem that could transform our meals, New Scientist reports. In a thorough feature this week, the magazine examines the dilemma and ponders what seafood might look like on fish-free menus, ranging from jellyfish sushi to algae burgers. It even includes two recipes: jellyfish tempura and Greek-style squid. (Source: New Scientist)

MASTER OF ITS DOMAIN: A company vying for the .eco top-level Internet domain announced Wednesday that it's partnering with former Vice President Al Gore and his nonprofit Alliance for Climate Protection to bolster its efforts. The .eco domain "will be established for individuals to express their support for environmental causes, for companies to promote their environmental initiatives, and for environmental organizations to maintain their websites in a namespace that is more relevant to their core missions." TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, writing in the Washington Post, isn't sold on the idea. (Sources: Dot Eco, Washington Post)

Russell McLendon

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