George W. Bush as Marie Antoinette: “Let them go ice skating in Maine”: In January of this year, President Bush in his State of the Union Address — true to his oil industry roots — stood foursquare against oil prices that were beginning to retreat dramatically. They had already touched $49.90/bbl a few days before. He declared that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would be doubled from 750 million barrels to 1.5 billion barrels. What was not fully understood at the time by the public and the press, was that the announced increase, coming only weeks after OPEC’s declaring that it would cut supply to world markets, would be interpreted by OPEC and oil interests at large, that for this administration the retreat in oil prices had gone far enough. Huffington Post

Migrating frogs fare poorly when habitat altered: Habitat loss and fragmentation are putting amphibians already threatened by climate change, pesticides, alien invasive species, and the outbreak of a deadly fungal infection at greater risk of extinction, reported a study published in Science last week. A team of Brazilian researchers identified “habitat split” — which they define as “human-induced disconnection between habitats used by different life history stages of a species” — as a key determinant of species richness decline in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, a critically endangered ecosystem. Monga Bay

Resistance to Europe’s emissions plan: Europe likes to think of itself as the custodian of the world’s environment, and its policies to cut back strongly on its own harmful emissions have set a powerful example in the fight against climate change. But although there are some sacrifices E.U. governments are prepared to make for Mother Nature, on Wednesday they were presented with one that truly tested their environmental mettle. It came in the form of European Commission plans to fine carmakers if they fail to meet their emission targets. The proposals could slap annual penalties worth billions of euros on carmakers if they miss targets. Time

So hard to see the wood for the trees: If the Bali conference on climate change brought good news to anyone, it must surely be the inhabitants of the rainforests and others committed to preserving those trees. But their reactions have been mixed, ranging from delight to scepticism. For rainforest campaigners, the Bali statement’s allusion to an urgent need for “meaningful action to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” was a sweet victory, even if the only concrete step in that direction was a “work programme” to test various approaches. The Economist

Being green online: let’s get together: Green brands tend to fall into one of two categories, believes internet entrepreneur Andy Hobsbawm. Either they are worthy, good-cause initiatives nibbling at the mainstream, or they are wannabes – established household names now eager to be seen as green. Which is why, a little over a year ago, when he began looking around for an eco-friendly idea to become his latest venture, one thing was clear. “Without strong brands in the environmental space it will only ever be a worthy eco-ghetto, which just isn’t enough,” he explains. “We set out to create a green brand as great as the great brands already out there.” Independent

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey