LET'S GET PHYSICIST, PHYSICIST: After talk early last week that President-elect Obama's Cabinet choices were drifting to the right, The Wall Street Journal retorts today that the change we believed in has now been delivered, via the new scientist-laden energy and environment team. Many swooned over Steven Chu as Obama's DOE pick, and today fellow physicist John Holdren of Harvard, expected to become the presidential science adviser, is also collecting ample praise. But it's not just climate change deniers who are hesitant to rejoice over Holdren's appointment. John Tierney points out the guy doesn't always take criticism well, and New Scientist worries that there will be two physicists and no life scientists at the president's ear. That's ignoring presumed NOAA nominee Jane Lubchenco, however, an Oregon State marine biologist. And regardless, as NS concedes, at least science seems to be a priority. (Sources: The New York Times, WSJ, The Washington PostScientific AmericanTierney Lab, New Scientist, The Oregonian)

NO SILVER LINING: Tackling one of global warming's pricklier predictions, NASA scientists announced today that climate change is increasing the likelihood of extremely high-altitude clouds, and thus the tropical storms and hurricanes they can birth. For every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit that average ocean surface temperatures rise, NASA saw a 45 percent increase in the high-altitude clouds. (Source: The Associated Press)

BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: As the Bush administration's tenure continues to wind down, so does its tolerance of environmental protections. In the two most recent "midnight regulations," the White House decided it's perfectly fine if factory farms release animal waste into waterways and if they don't bother reporting hazardous air emissions to the federal government. (Source: OneWorld.net)

LOGGING OFF: A new U.S. regulation went into effect this week that outlaws the trafficking of illegally logged timber, an effort to choke out the American market that helps drive rampant deforestation in other countries. Since it's virtually impossible to tell if a wood product is made of illegal logs, the onus will be higher up the production chain, on the timber mills that process the logs. (Source: Science News)

THE GIFTS THAT (WE) KEEP ON GIVING: Once a social faux pas that was the leading cause of label-maker proliferation, Newsweek reports that regifting is becoming acceptable, thanks to the combined forces of economic recession and increased environmental awareness. (Source: Newsweek)

— Russell McLendon

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