On We Beasties, Kevin Bonham reports that scientists have genetically enabled E. coli to digest a sugar found in algae. Bonham writes, “Scientists have been picking this bug’s locks for decades, and it’s already been engineered to make not just ethanol, but many other useful products as well.” With the ability to metabolize sugar from a source as prolific, low-maintenance, and renewable as algae, E. coli could become a much bigger player in biofuel production. Meanwhile, Greg Laden considers the State of the Union address from an environmental perspective. Laden gives President Obama a pass for his pragmatic approach to an incendiary political issue, but admits that some of us might have preferred “a fire and brimstone demand to step up our national efforts to address Global Warming and the other issues related to the high rate of release of fossil Carbon into the atmosphere.” Laden says we must first elect a more unified Congress willing to enact science-based policy. In the meantime, the USDA’s revised plant hardiness map shows that “all the climate zones have moved north permanently.” And in 2012, that’s just the tip of the melting iceberg.