Minister to press Japan on hybrid cars: Innovation Minister Kim Carr will launch a concerted push to secure production of hybrid cars for Australia when he meets senior executives of Toyota in Tokyo tomorrow. Senator Carr will brief the senior management of Toyota in Japan about the Rudd Government’s review of the automotive industry being undertaken by former Victorian premier Steve Bracks. The Government is keen to use its proposed $500 million green car fund to convince Toyota to set up production of hybrid vehicles — including a green Camry produced in Japan and the US — in Australia. The company already produces petrol-powered Camry and Aurion vehicles at its Victorian manufacturing plant at Altona. The Age

Radiohead star launches emissions campaign: The lead singer of Radiohead today launched a campaign to persuade the European Union and European governments to commit to annual cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Thom Yorke is the frontman for a Friends of the Earth campaign calling on 17 countries as well as the European Union to sign up to legally binding, year-on-year targets for reducing emissions. Mr Yorke has been an ambassador for the green campaign group since 2005 when he called for stronger legislation in Britain to lower emissions. “You have a certain amount of credit you can cash in with your celebrity and I’m cashing the rest of my chips in with this,” he said, immediately provoking scrutiny of his own carbon footprint as Radiohead conducted a world tour. Times Online

The rhetoric of slavery and climate change: Is there a moral equivalence between defending the institution of slavery and climate change denialism? When I first considered this question, after having been alerted by Globalization and the Environment to the existence of a new paper comparing congressional rhetoric on the topics of slavery and the Kyoto Protocol, I was skeptical. The act of buying and selling human beings, it seemed to me, carries with it a stench of reprehensibility that greenhouse gas emissions, no matter how polluting, don’t quite measure up to. But after reading Marc Davidson’s “Parallels in reactionary argumentation in the U.S. congressional debates on the abolition of slavery and the Kyoto Protocol,” I am willing to concede that there are some interesting congruencies. Salon

Half the Amazon rainforest will be lost within 20 years: More than half the Amazon rainforest will be damaged or destroyed within 20 years if deforestation, forest fires, and climate trends continue apace, warns a recent study. Reviewing recent trends in economic, ecological and climatic processes in Amazonia, Daniel Nepstad and colleagues forecast that 55% of Amazon forests will be “cleared, logged, damaged by drought, or burned” in the next 20 years. The damage will release 15-26 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, adding to a feedback cycle that will worsen both warming and forest degradation in the region. Monga Bay

Haul aboard: When the crew of the Greenpeace ship Esperanza last year pulled in its 1-metre-net from the surface of the Atlantic about 200 miles south-east of the Azores, it was surprised only by the quantity of what it found. Washing around in the net were nearly 700 minuscule and unidentifiable fragments of plastic; 57 pieces of synthetic fishing line and leftover strands from dumped nets and rope; a handful of flakes from old plastic bags, including one with a zip-type seal still attached; and a dozen so-called nurdles – white pellets, looking like grains of rice, which are the raw material of the packaging industry. All this microplastic had been collected in just four nautical miles. Guardian

Peter Fray

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