As the energy industry hungrily eyes methane hydrates, scientists ponder the fuel's impact on climate.

Climate change authorities long ago tagged carbon dioxide public enemy number one. Now, there may be a new number two: tiny particles of black carbon, or soot. According to a new analysis reported online in Nature Geoscience, climate scientists are concluding that reports such as last November's assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may seriously underestimate black carbon's role in global warming.

A federal study released documents the significant impact that climate change is expected to have on the U.S. transportation system. Its conclusion, says Henry Schwartz, the former head of one of the country's largest highway engineering firms, is "a pretty damning tale of what could happen."

Hydroxyl radicals are often called the "detergent" of the atmosphere because they control the atmosphere's capacity to cleanse itself of pollutants. In this article the researchers show that the reaction of electronically excited nitrogen dioxide with water can be an important source of tropospheric hydroxyl radicals.

More than a hundred people live in cities that fail to meet international standards for air quality. Efforts to improve conditions in these urban areas have usually focussed on reducing emissions of reactive hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide free radicals and primary and secondary sources of particulate matter.

In the 7 December 2007 issue, L. Roberts and M. Enserink discuss malaria eradication in the News Focus Story "Did they really say..eradication?" Information from India's 5-year economic plans shows that even if complete eradication cannot be secured, economic gains and reduced suffering may be worth the effort. (Letters)

Rinderpest, an animal disease that devastated cattle and other animals-and their human keepers-across Eurasia and Africa for millennia, may join smallpox as the only viral diseases to have been eradicated.

In impoverished Yunnan Province in southwestern China, a confrontation is brewing between economic growth and habitat preservation-and authorities are sending mixed signals about their intentions.

In December 2005, Stephen Johnson dunked himself in hot water. Johnson, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), decided to discard advice from a scientific advisory committee when he set a major air-quality standard for soot. Scientists and environmental groups were outraged. This time Johnson did it again with ozone, the main component of smog and the hand of the White House was plain to see.

The relationship between natural variations in coral species diversity, reef development and ecosystem function on coral reefs is poorly understood. Recent coral diversity varies 10-fold among geographic regions, but rates of poor growth are broadly similar, suggesting that diversity is unimportant for reef development.