COUNTING CARBON: Carbon regulation is beginning to seem inevitable, and while many American industries still don't like the idea, their jobs may at least become easier thanks to Hara. No, not the Romanian pop-rock band — although those violins are pretty uplifting. Hara is a Silicon Valley startup that on Monday began selling software to help businesses keep their greenhouse gas emissions in check. In development since 2007, Hara not only monitors and manages companies' water and energy use, but also helps them plan ways to reduce their environmental footprint. CEO Amit Chatterjee, formerly with SAP, says Microsoft Excel is the biggest competitor for Hara — which means "green" in Sanskrit — since many companies currently count carbon using spreadsheets. But that can get complex for huge multinational corporations, which is where Hara comes in. Coca-Cola is trying it out for a three-month trial, and Hara's business could increase tenfold if Congress passes the Waxman-Markey climate bill. (Sources: ReutersLos Angeles TimesNew York Times, BusinessWeek)

DESERT DESERTION: Syria saw 160 villages abandoned between 2007 and 2008 because of climate change, according to a study released today. Severe drought worsened by rising temperatures drove the villagers to urban areas, and the region's decreasing water could lead to conflict in the future, researchers warn. Even modest global warming could shrink the Euphrates River by 30 percent and the Dead Sea 80 percent by the end of the century. (Source: Times of India)

MAYA COLLAPSE: For the first time, scientists may have found evidence that the ancient Mayan civilization collapsed due to overexploitation of natural resources rather than disease or warfare. The booming Mayan city of Tikal, located in modern-day Guatemala, used sapodilla wood in building three temples before 741 AD; sapodilla wood is famously strong but also easy to carve, good for the Maya's ceremonial inscriptions. But after that date, the Maya inexplicably switched from big sapodilla timber to gnarled logwood, which is nearly impossible to carve. They abandoned the city a few decades later. "It's definitely an inferior material," one researcher says of logwood, suggesting the Maya wouldn't have switched unless they had cut down all the sapodilla trees. (Source: New Scientist)

INSTITUTIONAL WISDOM: President Obama has promised repeatedly since taking office to restore the prominence of American science, but that might not be as big a job as it seems, at least when it comes to environmental research. U.S. research institutions lead the world in eco-expertise, according to a newly released analysis of science journals, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is No. 1 worldwide in alternative energy. Nine American labs or schools are in the top 25, including Harvard, Caltech and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo. (Source: USA Today)

ON THE BEACH: Why do whales beach themselves? That question has been on many people's minds after 55 false killer whales seemed determined to die on the sands of a South African beach this weekend, even re-beaching themselves after they had been rescued once. Scientific American poses the question to Darlene Ketten, a neuroethologist and expert on marine-mammal hearing, who says scientists are only able to determine the cause of about half the strandings they study. Some causes are easy to diagnose — ship strikes, shark attacks, pneumonia — but others are still mysterious. (Sources: Associated PressScientific American)

STORMS SURGING: Ike may have just been the opening act. While the September 2008 hurricane was devastating — the costliest disaster in Texas history, ringing up $29 billion in damages — researchers say climate change may soon up the ante even further for Texas hurricanes. Flooding and general damage is expected to become more severe in coming years; in Corpus Christi, for example, structural damage from a major hurricane will increase 60 percent in about 20 years and more than 250 percent by the 2080s, the researchers predict. Yesterday was the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through Nov. 30. (Source: AP)

PENGUIN GUANO: Scientists have discovered a new population of penguins in Antarctica by using satellite images to spot the guano-stained ice where they huddle. Penguin guano has a distinctive brownish-pink color due to the birds' diet of krill, squid and fish, and enough of them gather in this spot that, while individual penguins are too small to see, their leavings were visible from space. (Sources: GuardianAgence France-Presse)

Russell McLendon

(Photo: U.S. Geological Survey)