IT'S OFFICIAL: President-elect Obama announced this evening what everyone has known for a week: Carol Browner is energy czar, Steven Chu is energy secretary, Lisa Jackson is EPA administrator and Nancy Sutley will head the White House Council on Environmental Quality. But like any responsible green citizen, Obama seems to have fixed his leaks. We still don't know who he'll pick for interior, transportation or agriculture secretaries, all agencies with major environmental impacts, but The Christian Science Monitor rounds up the likely candidates. (Sources: Reuters, CS Monitor)

WHOLE NEW BALL GAME: Al Gore will host a "green ball" Jan. 19 to celebrate the incoming administration's commitment to ecological sustainability. It's the most high-profile of several such environmentally themed inaugural balls being planned. (Source: Short Sharp Science)

IT'S A SMALL WORLD: MIT researchers have created a miniature, self-sustaining ecosystem smaller than a stick of gum that they say could lead to better understanding of how microbes influence global climates. Small sea organisms help regulate the oceans' carbon flux, or the rate at which carbon and energy move up and down the marine food web. (Source: Science Daily)

CLEARING THE AIR: While CO2 and other greenhouse gases are by far humans' biggest contributions to climate change, a study published last week suggests that cutting other emissions, such as soot and smog, can also have an immediate effect on global warming, even buying us 20 to 30 years to tackle the pricklier issue of regulating carbon. (Source: Scientific American)

LAND DOWN UNDER AIMS LOW: Australia has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 5 to 15 percent below its 2000 levels within 12 years, a commitment that isn't exactly earning praise. The European Union last week pledged 20 percent cuts from 1990 levels within the same time frame, and U.N. climate scientists have said even larger cuts are needed. Aussie PM Kevin Rudd blames his country's booming population for the modest goals. (Source: CS Monitor)

PEAKING OUR INTEREST: The chief economist for the International Atomic Energy Agency tells The Guardian he expects peak oil -- the point at which we've used more oil than is left in the Earth -- in 11 years. That's significant. The agency has never made any such prediction about a peak or plateau of world oil production. (Source: The Guardian)

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