Californians pay price of communing with nature: Iain Blair lost a close friend to a devastating 1993 blaze in his rural Los Angeles canyon community. Sarah Tippit fled for her life four years ago as flames jumped a highway and burned 11 homes in her idyllic San Diego neighborhood of Tierrasanta, known to locals as the “island in the hills.”  … An estimated 1,500 homes burned and about 500,000 people were evacuated as some 17 blazes turned blue October skies brown and orange across Southern California. But even those terrified or displaced most likely will return to homes built close to nature or teetering on stilts on ocean bluffs because threats of fire, mudslides and earthquakes are seen as a price worth paying. Reuters

White House altered climate change testimony: Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that White House officials heavily edited testimony on global warming delivered to Congress yesterday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, downplaying the specific health problems that could arise. Bush administration officials cut CDC director Julie L. Gerberding’s testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on “climate change and public health” from 12 pages to six, removing sections that detailed how global warming would affect Americans and suggested that the government has yet to fully respond to the potential risk posed by climate change. Washington Post

Putting an island in touch with the world: The South Pacific islands of Tokelau have seen enormous change in the past decade. Climate change has left the three tiny atolls vulnerable to tidal surges and cyclones, while parts of the land have simply disappeared under the sea. Tokelau’s islanders have traditionally lived by fishing for marlin and hahave (flying fish). But many species of fish have disappeared during the past generation, perhaps linked to the changing weather patterns. “Right now, our island should be warm and calm, but it’s been raining for weeks,” says Ionata O’Brien, minister of transport, energy and telecommunications. “Things are changing.” Guardian

BMW freezes a hydrogen car to make a point about global warming: On the second floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, there is a giant walk-in freezer set at minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit). The sole entity inside is a BMW hydrogen-powered race car stripped to its frame, draped in ice and glowing like a strange Arctic insect. This frozen objet d’art, a reflection on the conflicts between global climate change and the automotive industry, is a collaboration between an Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, and BMW. The four-month exhibition coincides with the San Francisco auto show in November and is the only American stop for the work, called “Your Mobile Expectations: BMW H2R Project.” International Herald Tribune

Organic air-freight food to be stripped of status: Three-quarters of the organic food flown in to Britain from overseas could be stripped of its valued status, as part of a plan to cut carbon emissions by eliminating air-freighted food from supermarket shelves. Only those farmers or processors which can prove they meet stringent ethical standards would be allowed to keep their organic status, the Soil Association announced today. Telegraph 

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