08/12/2010 11:20 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What Matters This Week: Russia Burns While Electric Cars Sizzle

Here at the Matter Network we explore what works and what sucks in the business of saving the planet. News from the Northern Hemisphere is grim: A record heat wave in Russia has led to fires that covering a thousand square miles and enveloped Moscow in smoke. Meanwhile, a chunk of ice four times the size of Manhattan broke off of Greenland. Global warming? Uh, just maybe. But are they related?

The fires might send clouds of soot north to the Arctic, where they are most unwelcome: A recent study concluded that reducing soot is one of the the best ways to prevent the Arctic from melting. Time to buy beachfront property in Philadelphia.

Wild Plants are Roundup Ready: In North Dakota, scientists sampled wild canola on the side of the road and found nearly half contained genes created by Bayer and Monsanto. This marked the first evidence in the United States of GM crops escaping from the fields into the wild. What does Monsanto have to say about the outbreak? On its blog, it recommends mowing the plants down ... and spraying more chemicals from Monsanto.

Electric Cars Go Really Fast: Before you drive off a bridge in despair, we'd like to report some electric-car developments that blew our hair back. A retrofitted 1972 Datsun called the White Zombie clocked 0 to 60 in 1.8 seconds (video here). Earlier, the Kleenspeed broke the track record at the Laguna Seca raceway. All this, along with the news that the Pocono Raceway is powered by solar, might even shut up Rush Limbaugh.

Electric Cars Go Really Slow: Simultaneously the market is blossoming for cars that go 25 mph or less, like the cute little Solar Bug and the electric buggies the Navy is deploying to a Georgia submarine base. To go a bit faster, we recommend the VW beetle powered by the methane from human waste. But for our money no vehicle is cooler than the bus so huge you can drive...under it.

Best Buy? Really? Best Buy wants to become the place you buy electric motorcycles and cars. Will the salesman in the blue polo shirt disappear into the manager's office for a heart-to-heart talk before offering you a few thousand over MSRP?

How to Put Solar Panels on Your House: We've been enjoying Sunpluggers' guide to going solar. Once you know the basics, it's less daunting than you think. Make use of the sunshine by digesting Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV.

Ideas We Hope Go Somewhere: packaging made from coconut husks ; Sikorsky's lab for electric helicopters.