This Week’s Top 10 (12/2/07-12/8/07)

1. Fuel efficiency: CAFE society from The Economist
Forcing Americans into smaller cars

America’s embattled carmakers have reluctantly agreed to the new efficiency standards [35 mpg by 2020]. Their only hope of a reprieve, if the legislation makes it through Congress, is a presidential veto. George Bush objects to other parts of an energy bill that requires energy companies to produce 15% of electricity from renewable sources and ditches billions of dollars of tax breaks for oil companies. Nonetheless, in acquiescing to the proposals American car companies have accepted the inevitable:lawmakers want cars that are more fuel efficient to mitigate environmental damage and improve America’s energy security.

Noteworthy factoid:

The ability to make some bigger cars is important for American firms. Smaller cars cost nearly as much to design and assemble as bigger models but profit margins are far tighter.

2. Mechanical Tree Proposed for Global Warming from NPR

The hosts of the NPR program filed this one under ‘it’s so crazy, it just might work’.

Delegates to the Bali climate conference this week will try to agree on measures to limit carbon emissions, but many scientists believe that halting global warming will require more drastic action. Klaus Lackner of the Columbia University Earth Institute has been developing a carbon-capture machine called a “mechanical tree.”

3. Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts from the NYTimes

Malawi hovered for years at the brink of famine. After a disastrous corn harvest in 2005, almost five million of its 13 million people needed emergency food aid.

But this year, a nation that has perennially extended a begging bowl to the world is instead feeding its hungry neighbors. It is selling more corn to the World Food Program of the United Nations than any other country in southern Africa and is exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn to Zimbabwe.

Farmers explain Malawi’s extraordinary turnaround — one with broad implications for hunger-fighting methods across Africa — with one word: fertilizer.

According to the piece, experts from the World Bank and some rich donor nations wanted Malawi to cut some/all fertlizer subsidies. It seems that they politely declined.

4. Kevin Rudd Wastes No Time from How the World Works

Kevin Rudd said ratifying the Kyoto Protocol would be an immediate priority. He turns out to be a man of his word. In his first official act as prime minister of Australia, Rudd signed Australia’s name on Kyoto’s dotted line while visiting Indonesia for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference.