SEA PLUS: Atop this morning's environmental news is President Bush's designation of three national monuments in the Pacific Ocean, comprising the largest marine preservation area in history. With scientists forecasting a dire undersea future if global warming continues unabated, Bush's landmark protection sets the stage for Obama to create a "blue legacy," writes Ocean Conservancy President Vicki Spruill in The Washington Post today. Still, opines The Boston Globe's Derrick Jackson, can't Bush practice some of his love on the land, too? (Sources: The New York Times, The EconomistThe Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, WaPo, The Boston Globe)

FIT TO BE TIDE: Coastal waters could cleanly generate up to a quarter of the U.K.'s electricity, but existing underwater-turbine technology still can't handle the powerful tides. A Welsh company is testing a new, tougher turbine based on battleship propellers, however, capable of powering about 1,000 homes once it's operational in 2010. (Source: The Guardian)

THE PELICAN GRIEF: Out of the blue, California pelicans from San Diego to San Francisco have started acting strangely — disoriented and bruised, they've been found staggering across highways and farms far from their usual coastal hangouts. Scientists are baffled at the sudden and extreme change in behavior. (Source: L.A. Times)

GREEN SCREENS: While everything from cars to computers is getting smaller and more efficient lately, TVs have continued their trajectory from the go-go 20th century, with growing screen sizes and energy usage (LCDs need 43 percent more power than traditional TVs). Green Inc. reports on California's nascent quest to regulate the industry, beginning with a program mandating that retailers stock only the most energy-efficient TVs beginning in 2011. Retailers aren't happy, saying Californians will just buy nonefficient TVs online instead. (Source: N.Y. Times)

NEGATIVE ASH FLOW: The fly-ash spill in East Tennessee is just another reminder that coal is a bad habit, akin to smoking cigarettes, writes the L.A. Times editorial board today. While coal and its fellow fossils do pose a far more immediate and accelerating threat to public health, rumblings in Montana are reminding us of another potential source of deadly ash: supervolcanoes. Yellowstone has been unusually shaky for several weeks due to more than 400 small earthquakes, a spate not seen in many years. Scientists don't have enough information to be worried yet, but since Yellowstone is the caldera of an ancient supervolcano that will one day erupt again, it's always worth watching. The New Republic's Bradford Plumer sees the ash cloud's silver lining, though: At least the suffocating haze would slow down global warming. (Sources: L.A. Times,  ScienceDaily, TNR)

Russell McLendon

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

The Morning Briefing: 01/06
Bush goes blue, but still not a landlubber. Also, the U.K. strengthens its sea power, California's pelicans go crazy, Yellowstone's supervolcano rumbles ominous