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Quick Hits: The War Against Cow Belching Edition

For anyone idly clicking around over the weekend, here are a few links of interest found while trawling the Internet on a lazy Sunday afternoon:

* One of the points raised in the ongoing climate talks at Poznan, Poland, this week: how to deal with emissions from farm animals, who generate 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, when you include the resulting deforestation in places like Brazil. Solutions range from taxes on meat to new feed that causes cows to belch less methane. Some experts argue that the livestock industry can never be sustainable, and we should all try to make do by eating less meat—even just switching from, say, beef to chicken has a huge impact. (Though, as Ben Adler reports in The American Prospect this month, that's a message many mainstream green groups refuse to touch.)

* James Temple of the San Francisco Chronicle has a good piece on California's bold new land-use law, which will attempt to promote denser urban development and slow the fast centrifugal spread of suburbia. Notably, the law will require local communities to submit long-term land-use plans and then re-zone accordingly—which makes it harder for area residents to block, say, new transit-oriented development. Since that weakens local control over land use, not everyone's pleased.

* George Tombs does an in-depth survey of the challenges facing the Great Lakes states and provinces, who recently signed a compact aiming to protect an ecosystem that's increasingly battered by invasive species, pollution, and declining water levels.

* Hawaii just struck a deal with Better Place to set up a statewide infrastructure for electric vehicles, joining the Bay Area and Israel. It helps that most Hawaiian drivers rarely travel more than 100 miles per trip, which is how far early car models will be able go before needing to recharge, though there will also be battery-swapping stations for drivers who can't wait that long. (Here's an old post describing Better Place's rather dramatic vision.) Investors seem to love the idea because the market for batteries could offer the sort of dependable revenue streams mortgages once did. Maybe an electric-car bubble is just 'round the corner…

--Bradford Plumer