RENEWABLES DOABLE? Energy issues have been at the forefront this week, with President Obama's EPA order on auto emissions and Congress currently mulling the economic stimulus plan. The New York Times highlighted that debate yesterday, reporting on the growing Democratic Party rift between "green states" and "brown states" — coastal carbon-cutters and Midwestern manufacturers, respectively. The "brown state" Dems are banding together to prevent legislation they fear could further rupture their economies, but only a small percentage of the stimulus plan would go to renewables. And even as Congress picks over the renewable-energy tax breaks in the bill, an op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor today argues that business, not government, is better suited to push renewable power, and aptly debunks comparisons to the Apollo moon landing. The question, though, is if businesses will voluntarily move quickly enough; scientists have released some dire warnings about climate change this week, and, as Forbes reports, many industries still fear carbon regulation. (Sources: The Associated Press, NY Times, Reuters, CS Monitor, Forbes)
MIDNIGHT COWBOY: New Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, without his usual cowboy hat and bolo tie, said Tuesday he'll begin re-examining "midnight regulations" pushed during the Bush administration's waning days, including moves to sell drilling leases on federal lands near national parks and to open parts of the Mountain West to oil-shale development. And a Washington Post report this morning tosses another Bush-era dismissal of science onto the heap: Interior Department officials risked damaging the Grand Canyon's ecosystem by ignoring scientific findings and limiting water flows to maximize power generation, the Post reports. (Sources: The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post)
AL GORE: Is speaking before Congress this morning, calling the financial crisis an opportunity and urging the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to take "decisive action" on climate change during this session. He's addressing that committee because of its role in preparing the United States for the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen later this year. (Source: CNN)
IN COLD BLOOD: Tropical mosquitoes are increasingly able to spread tropical diseases into normally colder areas as temperatures warm, a threat highlighted in 2007 by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But a new study finds that people inadvertently multiply that threat many times over when they begin adapting to climate change's droughts by hoarding water — more pools, barrels or tanks of still water mean more places for mosquitoes to lay eggs. And as the NY Times reported Tuesday, one of the worst diseases carried by mosquitoes, malaria, seems to be developing resistance to the best new drug against it. (Sources: Agence France-Presse, NY Times)
SHIP OF FUELS: The overseas shipping industry's march toward building bigger and bigger boats — the new MSC Daniela is about 1,200 feet long and carries 13,800 containers — could be good for the environment, as long as the global financial crisis doesn't evaporate its business first. Fitting more containers into single voyage reduces the overall number of ships at sea, thus cutting fuel usage and emissions, but the new supersized ships also require new, more efficient diesel engines, which are the size of cathedrals. The newest versions also include electronic controls that monitor fuel injection and exhaust. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
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