CIVIL RIGHTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Taking MLK Day to look back at the Civil Rights Movement, Dot Earth's Andy Revkin applies its lessons to the modern-day dilemma of climate change, pondering the moral context of global warming and wondering what role technology should play in battling it. (Source: The New York Times)
ON THE RIGHT TRACK: While it's still unclear whether Obama will get any funding for light rail squeezed into the stimulus package, he's at least provided a boost to D.C.'s mass transit system. The capital's Metro had its biggest day ever on Sunday, moving about 703,000 people to and from inauguration festivities. (Source: CBS News)
RED APE IN BAD SHAPE: Biruté Mary Galdikas is the least-known of anthropologist Louis Leakey's three "angels," but her apes are arguably in the most trouble of all. Leakey sent Jane Goodall to study chimpanzees in 1960, Dian Fossey to study gorillas in 1966, and Galdikas to study orangutans in 1971, all part of his research into mankind's closest relatives. Goodall has become an international celebrity for her work with chimps, and Fossey was murdered in her Rwandan hut in 1985, but Galdikas soldiers on below radar for the battered orangutan, which is quickly losing its habitat to palm-oil plantations in Indonesia. The Associated Press has a compelling profile of Galdikas and the plight of orangutans, which Galdikas worries could be extinct outside of national parks within 10 years. (Sources: Greenwire, AP)
SUUUEY: The National Pork Producers Council tells the AP it's suing the EPA over a new rule that requires livestock farms to inform communities about estimated emissions. Noncompliant farms could pay penalties up to $25,000 a day. (Source: AP)
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? Amid the scramble to discover new alternative fuel sources, we may have been sitting on the answer all along. Japanese researchers have developed a technology that can convert cattle or human waste into hydrogen for use in fuel cells, without producing unwanted CO2. The process — which involves fermenting the waste to extract ammonia, then electrolyzing it into hydrogen and nitrogen — raises the prospect of household "toilet generators," but it's not quite efficient enough yet to be practical. It could potentially generate enough power from six to eight tons of cattle waste to provide three days' worth of electricity for an average household. (Source: Laboratory Equipment)
BOTTLENECK: As demonstrably bad as water bottles are for the environment, banning them might do more harm than good, points out Daniel Hamermesh on The New York Times' Freakonomics blog. Citing a university that has banned bottled water from its campus, Hamermesh wonders whether people will actually start carrying around reusable containers of tap water (which would also save them money), or if they'll just start drinking bottled soft drinks, thus still damaging the environment with added detriment to their personal health. (Source: NY Times)
INCREDIBLE EDIBLE LEG: In addition to myriad troubles already facing frogs, New Scientist reports the amphibians could be "eaten to extinction." The global appetite for frog legs has ballooned in the last two decades, with France and the United States leading the charge. One researcher estimates that up to a billion frogs are harvested every year, most of them in Indonesia. (Source: New Scientist)
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