FORD TOUGH: The NYT this morning profiles William C. Ford Jr., Henry Ford’s great-grandson and Ford Motor Co.’s executive chairman, as he looks beyond bailout mania toward the future of cars in America. He has the luxury of patience that cash-strapped GM and Chrysler don’t, and he’s using Ford’s relative financial stability to spend time privately meeting with President-elect Obama and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm about greening the auto industry. The AFP reports that in Europe, the price for bailing out car companies may be mandates for just that.
GRAVE CONCERNS: In an attempt to either create electric zombies or maximize its solar-energy yield, the Barcelonian suburb of Santa Coloma de Gramenet has installed 462 solar panels atop mausoleums in its cemetery. The town is so densely populated -- 124,000 people in 1.5 square miles -- that the graveyard was one of the few places flat, open and sunny enough for the panels, which will keep 62 tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually.
CONDENSATION PIECE: The Guardian reports on a Canadian company that's developed a machine that extracts moisture from ambient air, condensates it, uses UV light to kill microbes and then pumps out a glass of potable water. The device will cost a recession-unfriendly $1,200 when it hits markets in 2009, but the magnitude of literally creating water out of thin air may drive demand high enough to eventually lower that price.
MACAQUE BLOCKERS: A British animal-rights group is up in arms over Cambodia's practice of poaching wild long-tailed macaques from the wild to later sell abroad for research. International conventions long ago abandoned wild capture for lab animals, and although the monkeys aren't endangered, unregulated poaching and monkey farming is so rampant the group says the species' future, as well as the health of their native jungles, is increasingly threatened.
LIKE A SLIDING STONE: Geology.com features a story today about the mysterious sliding rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley. The heavy stones leave eerie trails through the earth behind them, but no one has ever actually seen them move or definitively explained how they move.
PERVASIVE SPECIES: New Scientist senior environment correspondent Fred Pearce pontificates this morning about the shortcomings of current sustainability science, arguing we need “a survival strategy for our species.”
L.A. WETLAND WORTH ITS SALT: In what may be the first-ever attempt in L.A. to preserve something authentic, a developer is working with city planners and conservationists to restore the heavily degraded Los Cerritos Wetlands. The salt marsh hosts surprising biodiversity for a polluted body of water flanked by oil rigs and the Pacific Coast Highway, and proponents say it’s not too late to regain some of its lost splendor.