Red-hot Australia just the spot for solar energy projects: Australia gleams a bright red in a map that paints a vibrant picture of how solar energy reaches different parts of the world. America’s space agency, NASA, has pinpointed the world’s sunniest spots by studying maps compiled by US and European satellites. Red shows the regions that receive the most sun, such as the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Sahara Desert in Niger, followed by orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink. One sun-baked desert landmark in south-east Niger got a searing average of 6.78 kilowatt hours of solar energy per square metre per day from 1983-2005, roughly the amount of electricity used by a typical US home in a day to heat water. The Age

China’s green spending falls short: The good news out of China is that the People’s Republic will be spending $200 billion on cleaning up the air and water pollution that has marred its rapid economic growth. The bad news is that sum is virtually unchanged from the last budget and is unlikely to make a difference. The announcement this week of the government’s long-postponed plans for environmental protection for 2006-2010 was scrutinized by environmentalists for signs of whether the country can finally get its act together. Zou Shoumin, director of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning and one of the plan’s authors, told the state-run Xinhua news service that the government will spend $85 billion on cleaning up water pollution, $80 billion on air pollution and $28 billion on solid waste. In total the cleanup costs will equal about 1.35% of China’s GDP. That’s slightly more than what China spent under the previous five-year plan. Time

Ecomigration: global warming will increase climate refugees: Climate change could spawn the largest-ever migration of environmental refugees due to intensifying droughts, storms and floods, according to a new study published in Human Ecology. “People facing environmental disasters have no choice but to leave the affected area,” states a release from Springer, publisher of Human Ecology. “The larger the migration and the shorter the period over which it occurs, the harder it is to absorb the migrants, raising the likelihood of conflict. For instance, migrants clash over jobs, resources and way of life, and violent interactions such as theft, beating, armed scuffles, seizure of resources and property, murders and insurgencies are likely.” Monga Bay

Global warming’s cold war: Twenty years after leaving the White House, the late Ronald Reagan remains the most popular Republican in America. Republican presidential candidates constantly praise him on the campaign trail, even as they distance themselves from the deeply unpopular George Bush. Yet Bush is quite reminiscent of Reagan in a crucial respect, one worth recalling as diplomats prepare to meet in Bali next week to negotiate the next phase of the Kyoto protocol on climate change. Reagan and Bush each became president at a time when the very survival of civilisation was at risk. For Reagan, the threat came from the nuclear arms race; for Bush it came from climate change. And each man responded in a similar way, pursuing an aggressive, America-first policy that accentuated rather than diminished the danger while ignoring appeals from home and abroad to change course before it was too late. Guardian

Global warming: the rich opt out: Noted with interest: the very rich people are indifferent to climate change, global warming and the exhaustion of natural resources. Kyoto? What’s that? The new report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Never heard of it. The upcoming meeting of the world’s energy ministers in Bali? Makes no difference to me. Where’s my private jet? The rich have decided to opt out of global warming and its effects. That’s for the little people. The Nation