FULL TEAM AHEAD: Now that Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar is to be interior secretary-to-be, Obama's green team is largely in place, aside from other departments with wide environmental scope, like transportation and agriculture. U.S. News & World Report looks ahead to the tenures of innovatin' Steven Chu and regulatin' Lisa Jackson, and a high-ranking BP executive looks ahead to what their appointments mean for the oil industry; he calls Obama's choice of Chu "interesting" and "positive," but also calls for more specifics on what kinds of energy policies to expect. (Sources: The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters)

DOT CONNECTING DOTS: The U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking proposals for high-speed rail lines in 10 major intercity corridors, including one linking Washington to New York City. (Source: The Washington Post)

COOLER, BUT NOT COOL: 2008 was cooler than recent years, according to reports issued today by NASA, NOAA, the WMO and Britain's Hadley Center, but it was still somewhere between the seventh and 12th warmest year since 1880. The Pacific's La Niña cooling cycle helped keep temperatures down, but other factors, such as Arctic temperatures higher than past decades, indicate the overall warming trend is continuing. (Source: Dot Earth)

IRISH SKIES ARE SMILING: Ireland is becoming more energy-efficient and emitting less carbon dioxide, a government sustainability group reports. The country's energy usage per unit of GDP it generates fell 42 percent from 1990 to 2007, and energy-related CO2 emissions dropped 1.4 percent from 2005 to 2007. (Source: The Irish Times)

UNDERGROUND ECONOMY: Gas-rich Algeria aims to recast itself as a global environmental role model with its plan to start injecting CO2 emissions from one of its largest natural gas fields 1.2 miles below ground. While models for carbon sequestration normally involve pumping emissions into empty coal or salt mines — from which some scientists fear they could leak out — Algeria says it'll dodge that problem by sending the carbon back into the reservoirs it came from. (Source: The Associated Press)

SQUID PRO QUO: The giant Humboldt squid could soon be choked out by global warming, warn University of Rhode Island researchers in a study published this week. The massive cephalopods — which must constantly recharge their blood with oxygen from surrounding water — are nocturnal eaters who dive deep for meals. Low-depth waters already have less oxygen, and as oceans absorb more CO2, become more acidic and thus more oxygen-deprived, the squid could struggle to breathe. (Source: The Boston Globe)

BIODIVERSITY ADVERSITY: Researchers discovered 1,068 new species of plants and animals in Southeast Asia's Mekong Delta from 1997 to 2007 — including a rat scientists thought had been extinct for 11 million years and a hot pink, cyanide-producing "dragon millipede" — but all are threatened by the region's propensity for deforestation, mining and armed conflict. (Source: CNN)

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

Last Call: 12/16
Obama's green team, assemble!; DOT looks into high-speed connection; a break in Earth's fever; the Emerald Isle goes emeralder; Algeria and carbon capture; 1,06