MNN IN NYT: We'd like to say we don't like to brag, but we do. Especially when Kate Galbraith writes about MNN and co-founder Chuck Leavell in the The New York Times' Green Inc. blog, as she did today. (Source: NYT)

QUANTUM OF SOLIS: Obama has reportedly picked California Rep. Hilda Solis as his labor secretary, a home run nomination for the new administration's focus on a green economy. Solis' legislative opus was the 2007 "Green Jobs Act," and she sits on both the House energy and commerce committee and the select committee on energy independence and global warming. Plus, Van Jones likes her. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)

DIAGNOSIS MERCURY: "Entourage" actor Jeremy Piven has dropped out of a Broadway play three months before his contract ended, citing mercury poisoning. Playwright David Mamet seems skeptical, which may be valid considering the source of Piven's diagnosis. Between bodybuilding celebrity doctors and a flip-flopping FDA, the real victims of this might be the people who stop taking mercury in fish seriously. Thankfully, someone still does. (Sources: Bloomberg News, The Los Angeles Times, Gawker, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe)

THOU DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH: Britain's attorney general is trying to crack down on "direct-action" protests and possibly increase convictions, an attempt believed to be aimed at climate-change protesters. Six Greenpeace activists were acquitted in September after claiming their scaling of a coal-fired power plant's chimney was to prevent further property damage from the global warming it causes. In addition, recent airport-expansion protests have drawn considerable media attention. (Sources: The Guardian, NYT)

THE COMMON COAL: Running out of oil could actually make global warming worse, scientists are warning. At the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco today, speakers pointed out society won't necessarily switch to cleaner fuels as oil reserves dwindle. If our jonesing is too severe, we may just turn to another cheap and abundant energy source — coal — which is the most carbon-heavy of all fossil fuels. If we started using liquefied coal for transportation, heating and electricity, the climate would warm by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit three years sooner than is projected with oil. (Sources: ReutersBBCScientific American)

IN COLD BLOOD: The European conquest of the Americas may have indirectly led to the Little Ice Age, a period of global cooling from 1500-1750, scientists reported today, also at the American Geophysical Union meeting. The invasion wreaked havoc on indigenous populations — imported diseases killed an estimated 90 percent of Native Americans within a century — and the sudden halt of those civilizations allowed their agricultural lands to become reforested. All those new trees then began absorbing carbon again, at a scale possibly large enough to cool the planet. (Source: Mongabay)

LAVALIFE: In yet more news from the AGU meeting today, NASA scientists are reporting that volcanoes on a moon of Saturn erupt a gassy mixture of water, ammonia and methane. That chemical combo, plus heat in the moon's core, suggest alien life is possible there. (Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

Russell McLendon

Last Call: 12/18
Obama's going into labor, Jeremy Piven is being mercurial, oil shortages could be bad for the planet, a moon of Saturn could harbor life, and did Christopher Co