News Bites: Toyota moves away from rare earths for hybrids

Speaking of cars, Fast Company magazine looks at a major new MIT report about electric cars and greenhouse-gas emissions. A big question about plug-in vehicles is whether they’re a win on the climate change front if the electricity comes from coal.

“According to MIT, plug-in hybrids fueled by coal-fired power plants have lower emissions than gas-powered cars, but higher CO2 emissions than conventional hybrids. Plug-ins that are juiced up by carbon-free electricity (i.e. nuclear, biomass, solar), cut CO2 emissions by 66% compared to gas-powered vehicles, while traditional hybrids containing both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, only cut emissions by 33%,” they write.

The Associated Press reports that Australia’s horrendous flooding might be a harbinger of what’s to come as the climate shifts.

“Though you can't make a direct link between Australia's killer floods and climate change, they do hold a warning for the future: Scientists predict such extreme weather events will increase both in intensity and frequency as the planet warms,” their piece states.

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reports that widespread snow cover in the U.S. is no reason to question global warming.

“A snapshot of snow cover in some part of the world at a given time tells us nothing about the global picture or the long-term trends,” they note.