Is the hybrid Escalade an oxymoron?: Some years ago, I’m not sure when, the prize vehicles awarded to heroes of major sports events made the unfortunate transition from snazzy convertible sports cars to the biggest, hulkiest, meanest SOBs — I mean SUVs — on the block. So it was no surprise when New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, after engineering one of the greatest upset wins in Super Bowl history 10 days ago (with a tremendous assist from his team’s defense, I must add), was handed the MVP trophy and the keys to a brand-new black 2009 Cadillac Escalade. But this is 2008, and there’s a twist. It’s a hybrid Escalade. And that’s now officially a trend. Huffington Post

Insects ravaged more plants in ancient hot period: Insects ate more plants, and did more kinds of damage to them, during an ancient hot period that offers hints of what might happen this century if global warming forecasts hold true, scientists reported on Monday. Earth warmed by about 9 degrees F (5 C) over the course of 5,000 years at the end of the Paleocene Era, some 55 million years ago, sending hordes of hungry insects from the tropics and subtropics into the temperate zone, where the climate was suddenly warm enough for them to survive. This temperature change is an eyeblink in terms of geologic time, but far less abrupt than the warming predicted for the 21st century by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which forecast Earth could heat up by 3.2 to 7.2 degrees F (1.8 to 4 C) by the year 2100. Reuters

Cornelia Parker is out to save the planet: Cornelia Parker had a dramatic conversion. She was invited to an environmental conference at Oxford University and, tempted by the prospect of meeting such famous participants as Philip Pullman, she went. “My reasons were rather shallow,” Parker admits, but the event changed her life. “It was a complete wake-up call. For the first time I realised how terrifying climate change was. I could talk about nothing else. My poor husband… my poor friends… I was bombarding them with articles. I was reading voraciously… about anything: American foreign policy, oil production, food production.” …. So how was she going to incorporate this new awareness into her art? Times

King penguins in peril as planet warms: The magnificent king penguins of the sub-Antarctic islands are at risk of extinction from starvation if the planet heats up as climate scientists predict. The warning comes from international experts led by Yvon Le Maho, from the National Centre for Scientific Research in Strasbourg. Based on nine years of observational data, Dr Le Maho and his colleagues estimated 9 per cent of adult king penguins would die for every 0.26C of warming. When sea surface temperatures rose, the volume of small fish and squid the penguins eat declined, and fewer birds survived to breed. Since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year predicted an average increase of 0.2C per decade over the next two decades, Dr Le Maho’s team calculated that king penguin populations were at “heavy extinction risk”. News.com.au

Call for ‘environmental war room’: Sir Richard Branson has called for an “environmental war room” and urged the world’s 20 wealthiest nations to contribute more than £12 million each to help tackle climate change. Speaking at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Sir Richard said Virgin has put up a 25 million dollar (£12.5 million) prize to encourage scientists and inventors to put their mind to climate change – and called for the 20 wealthiest nations to do the same to create the largest scientific prize ever. His comments came at the start of a two-day UN General Assembly debate to generate support for a new treaty to fight global warming by 2009. Sir Richard said climate change was “the quietest, most sinister, most deadly threat of all” and said there was “no excuse for inaction, no excuse for ignorance”. Press Association

Peter Fray

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