YES EU CAN: Europe seems to have caught a green strain of Obamania, underscored today by the EU's climactic climatic compact, in which the 27 member nations pledged to cut the continent's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent before 2020. Leaders challenged the U.S. president-elect to match the environmental and economic scope of today's accord, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso even said, "Our message to our global partners is, 'Yes, you can.'" (Source: The Washington Post)
SUPER-GRID: Global delegates at the U.N. climate talks in Poznan heard arguments today for creating a massive, Europe-wide "super-grid" to share various forms of renewable energy. The ambitious project would connect the continent's existing grids and allow, for example, this scenario: "When the Sun sets in the Sahara, Germany could switch from African solar to geothermal energy from the Alps or Iceland." Oh, and Al Gore also spoke at Poznan today. (Sources: New Scientist, The Christian Science Monitor)
FDA ACTING MERCURIAL: In a roguish move today, the FDA reversed its stance on mercury in fish, saying the health benefits of eating fish outweigh the dangers of mercury poisoning. It even went as far as taking back its well-known recommendation that pregnant and nursing women should limit their fish consumption. Scientists with the EPA, which normally works with the FDA on mercury-in-fish issues but was largely left out of this advisory, called the FDA's new recommendations "scientifically flawed and inadequate." (Source: The Washington Post)
WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK: Bonnie, a 30-year-old orangutan at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa, has begun imitating one of her caretaker's whistling without being taught. Scientists previously thought orangutan vocal sounds were involuntary responses to changes in their surroundings, such as an approaching predator, but must now re-examine the apes' language skills. (Source: New Scientist)
MALARIA HYSTERIA: A new study from LSU warns that global warming is increasing the risk of "airport malaria" -- the ability for a malaria-carrying mosquito to fly onto an airplane in the tropics, fly out in a developed country and start spreading malaria there. Rising temperatures in developed countries are now making it more likely such infected mosquitoes would be able to live and reproduce outside the tropics. (Source: U.S. News & World Report)
DEAD RECKONING: Citing alarming growth in the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" -- that 8,000-square-mile expanse of mostly lifeless water created by U.S. farms' wastewater runoff -- the National Research Council urged the U.S. government to take action before the gulf's ecosystem collapses. (Source: The Houston Chronicle)
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