Today’s Climate: December 31, 2009

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Global Warming Blamed for Rise in Malaria on Mount Kenya (London Times)

Global warming has caused a seven-fold increase in malaria cases on the slopes of Mount Kenya, researchers found. A 2C increase in average temperatures there in the past 20 years allowed disease carriers to reach higher altitudes where the population of 4 million has little or no immunity.

11 Northeast States Agree to Cut Tailpipe Emissions (The Hill)

The 10 RGGI states plus Pennsylvania signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to develop a low-carbon fuel standard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks despite objections from the oil industry.

Canada Panel Backs Arctic Pipeline, with Conditions (Reuters)

The 15.4 billion Mackenzie pipeline in Canada’s Arctic should be allowed to proceed, provided 176 recommendations aimed at socioeconomic benefits and minimizing environmental damage are followed, regulators ruled.

Green-Tech Venture Capital Cools in 2009 (CNet)

Venture capitalists are still gung-ho on green technologies, but they are getting choosier. The amount of venture capital that went toward green-technology companies fell to $4.85 billion in 2009, compared to $7.6 billion in 2008.

Nevada, Arizona Race to Be First with New Solar Power Storage (Las Vegas Sun)

The U.S. solar energy industry is poised for a major technological breakthrough, and Nevada is in a race with Arizona to blaze the trail. It’s about an economically viable heat storage capability that enables solar plants to produce power at night.

Dutch Court to Take on Shell Nigeria Cases (Reuters)

Royal Dutch Shell will face compensation demands in a Dutch court for alleged damage caused by oil spills in Nigeria. Environmental group Friends of the Earth and four Nigerians aim to sue.

Soils Give Clean Look at Past CO2 (Nature)

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels may have been lower in warm eras of the Earth’s distant past than once believed, scientists report this week. The finding raises concern that CO2 levels from fossil fuel burning may soon be closer to those associated with ancient hothouse climates.

States Struggle to Regulate Shale Gas Industry (Reuters)

As U.S. energy companies scramble to mine natural gas from shale deposits, state regulators are struggling to keep pace amid criticism that they lack the resources to enforce environmental laws.

Canada Approves PetroChina Tar Sands Investment (Calgary Herald)

Canada approved PetroChina’s $1.9 billion stake in two tar sands projects. Industry Minister Tony Clement said the deal is in Canada’s best interest, despite criticisms that vital strategic and economic resources should be off-limits to foreign government ownership.

Air Quality Guidelines Face Unexpected Critics (New York Times)

California’s battle against greenhouse gases is likely to come to the Bay Area with rules designed to reduce the carbon footprint of new housing and commercial development. But some environmentalists and city planners fear the new regulations could have an unintended consequence.

Taiwanese in Deal to Save GE Solar-Panel Facility (News Journal)

A Taiwanese company has agreed to buy a General Electric solar-panel manufacturing facility in Delaware, saving the plant from a planned closing. The move may be linked to ‘Buy American’ rules in the federal stimulus funding.

Virginia Gov-Elect’s Call for Off-Shore Drilling Based on Threadbare Data (Wall Street Journal)

Virginia Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell isn’t waiting to get the keys to the mansion to push to desire to drill into the commonwealth’s offshore region. But it turns out his drilling for economic development argument rests on some threadbare data.

Sudan Ships First Ethanol Export (AFP)

Sudan, angling to become Africa’s leading exporter of ethanol, has sent out its first shipment of the bio-fuel to the Netherlands, an official with the state-owned Kenana company said.

Engineered Tobacco Plants Have Potential as Biofuel (Green Car Congress)

Researchers have identified a way to increase the oil in tobacco plant leaves, which may be the next step in using the plants for biofuel. Their paper was published online in Plant Biotechnology Journal.