OVERDUE BILL: The national debate over health-care reform has apparently put the Senate climate bill on life support, which doesn't bode well for this December's U.N. climate-change summit in Copenhagen. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stirred environmentalist anxiety earlier this week by vaguely suggesting that the climate bill could be delayed until 2010, although an aide later backtracked from that, reaffirming that the goal is still to pass the bill this year. Other Senate leaders have also repeatedly said they want it passed by December, and Sen. John Kerry described it Tuesday as only "marginally delayed." Todd Stern, the top U.S. climate negotiator, said yesterday that delays in the bill will likely prolong international negotiations past December's high-profile summit. Opponents of the bill still seem to be worried about it passing, however, as the American Petroleum Institute held 20 anti-regulation rallies in August, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, another industry group, says it plans to buy more TV, radio and Internet ads in coming weeks. (Sources: ClimateWire, Associated Press, Scientific American)

KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES: Green jobs guru Van Jones has broken his silence about his recent resignation from the White House, writing an e-mail to his friends and supporters this week offering some tips for what they can do to help. "The main thing is this: please do everything you can to support both President Obama and the green jobs movement," Jones wrote. He went on to list four specific things supporters can do, and promised that "in due course, I will be offering my perspective on what has happened--including correcting the record about false charges." Jones resigned on Sept. 6 amid growing tirades against him led by Fox News talk-show host Glenn Beck. Jones has called the attacks a "smear campaign," and says he resigned to avoid being a distraction from the Obama administration's work. (Source: Huffington Post)

TIPPING POINTS: Sardine fisheries, Antarctic ice sheets and Wall Street aren't often mentioned in the same sentence. But they have more in common than we might think, a new study has found — all three behave very similarly under pressure, gradually building up to a tipping point and then suddenly crashing. "What really captures my imagination about this is the fact that you get similar kinds of behavior across many different kinds of systems," says the study's author, George Sugihara at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Sugihara is especially interested in what happens just beforehand — financial markets, for example, start behaving erratically right before a crash. (Source: NPR)

UNBEARABLE: It's well-known by now that climate change is starving polar bears by melting the sea ice they use to hunt seals. But what happens to starving polar bears is often overlooked. They don't just lie down and die — they go looking for food, as any reasonable animal would. Unfortunately, that usually takes them into towns where people live, a problem that's been growing lately as sea ice becomes more and more scarce. In Hudson Bay alone, the number of "problem bears" more than tripled between 1970 and 2005, from 20 to 90 per year, even though the area's polar bear population declined 22 percent since the late '80s. (Source: New Scientist)

CLEARING THE AIR: The Obama administration filed notice Wednesday that it plans to revamp a controversial Bush-era rule regulating smog, noting that it may violate federal air-quality laws. While the existing rule set stricter limits on smog when it was passed in March 2008, it fell short of scientific recommendations, and President Bush personally intervened to make sure its smog protections for wildlife, farmlands, parks and open spaces were no stronger than the standard to protect human health, ignoring EPA officials' advice. Following the Justice Department's notice on Wednesday, the EPA will now propose revised smog standards in late December. "This is one of the most important protection measures we can take to safeguard our health and our environment," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement. "Reconsidering these standards and ensuring acceptable levels of ground-level ozone could cut health care costs and make our cities healthier, safer places to live, work and play." (Source: AP)

POWER ERUPTS: Six volcanos are erupting in Russia's remote Kamchatka region — simultaneously. Some locals are praising the volcanic ash for helping their vegetable gardens, while others understandably complain about the effects on their breathing. Russian volcanologist Yaroslav Muraviyev says it's the most activity he's seen in 55 years. (Sources: Scientific AmericanNTDTV)

Russell McLendon

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Photo (Sen. Harry Reid): Charles Dharapak/AP

Photo (Van Jones): Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Photo (polar bear): U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo (L.A. smog): NASA

Russell McLendon ( @russmclendon ) writes about humans and other wildlife.

Daily Briefing: Thurs. 9/17/2009
Climate bill languishes, Van Jones speaks out, polar bears fed up with no food, and more.