Clean Start: December 16, 2011

Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green’s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we’re reading. What are you?

From a local perspective, a tree is a consumer of water, but on a broader regional scale, forests supply the atmosphere with moisture that will become rainfall, scientists find. [Science Daily]

The number of sugar maples in Upper Great Lakes forests is likely to decline in coming decades, according to University of Michigan ecologists and their colleagues, due to a previously unrecognized threat from a familiar enemy: acid rain. [Science Daily]

CoreLogic estimates flood losses in the U.S. this year at approximately $10.67 billion, based on various flooding and storm events recorded in the National Climate Data Center. [RIS Media]


The efficiency of conventional solar cells could be significantly increased, according to new research on the mechanisms of solar energy conversion led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin. [Science Daily]

A shift to renewable energy would ultimately cost around the same as business as usual and the EU needs to make progress on setting a 2030 target for greener fuel soon, the bloc’s energy commissioner said. [Reuters]

Environment Minister Pierre Arcand announced the official adoption of Quebec’s cap-and-trade system to fight climate change Thursday — three days after what Arcand called the federal government’s “utterly regrettable” announcement that Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol. [Montreal Gazette]

U.S. offshore oil and gas drillers need to take a more systematic approach to safety in all aspects of their operations to prevent another catastrophe like last year’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a scientific panel said on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Fairbanks, Alaska, is enjoying one of its warmest Decembers ever. [Daily News-Miner]

Canada’s National Energy Board said on Thursday that any company that wants to drill for oil and gas in Arctic waters will need to demonstrate it has the capacity to sink a relief well in the same drilling season to cope with possible well blowouts. [Reuters]


Mexico City’s sleek new public bus system is attracting significant international funding in carbon credit sales, part of the capital’s ongoing effort to reduce pollution and green up its smoggy image. [Reuters]