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A factor of 3.67 makes a big difference when discussing climate

The biggest source of confusion and errors in climate discussions probably concerns "carbon" versus "carbon dioxide." I was reminded of this last week when I saw an analysis done for a major environmental group that confused the two and hence was wrong by a large factor (3.67). The paragraph I usually include in my writing: Some people use carbon rather than carbon dioxide as a metric. The fraction of carbon in carbon dioxide is the ratio of their weights. The atomic weight of carbon is 12 atomic mass units, while the weight of carbon dioxide is 44, because it includes …

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Duke Energy CEO defends the need for free permit allocations

One of the most interesting political dynamics emerging around climate policy is the clash between coal utilities and utilities that rely more on natural gas and nuclear. (Most of the former are regulated, while most of the latter are, to one extent or another, deregulated or restructured.) Gas and nuke utilities stand to benefit from a cap-and-trade program that prices carbon steeply and quickly, since their fleets are already (relatively) low-carbon. Coal utilities, on the other hand, are CO2-intensive and are pushing for measures to ease the transition to low-carbon technology. The main such measure is allocating -- that is, …

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Rainforest Action Network’s new pledge petition

The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- In Hell and High Water, Joe lays out his proposals for how to slow down our greenhouse-gas emissions in the first half of this century, giving us the breathing space to eliminate them in the second half. His program primarily consists of deploying existing technology, and it is quite doable, should we find the political will. His last proposal, however, is to "stop all tropical deforestation, while doubling the rate of new tree planting." I've always considered this to be the toughest item on his list to …

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Interesting research findings on wealth and happiness

Photo: sean-b via Flickr University of British Columbia researchers have put a price tag on happiness. The good news: It's available for the low price of $5. The better news: You can't spend that money on yourself. Instead, to get the most smiles per dollar, you have to spend money on other people. Dr. Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and colleagues found that [experimental subjects] report significantly greater happiness if they spend money "pro-socially" -- that is on gifts for others or on charitable donations -- rather than spending on themselves. The researchers apparently looked at …

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Truckers slowing down to increase fuel efficiency

You think filling up your car is a pain in the wallet? Try being a trucker. Most big rigs get less than 10 miles to the gallon, and diesel fuel is hovering near $4 a gallon in many places. "For every one-penny increase in the price of diesel, it costs our industry $391 million," says a trucking industry spokesperson. In response, many trucking companies are instructing their drivers to ease off the throttle. Slowing from 75 miles per hour to 65 mph can increase fuel efficiency by more than a mile per gallon. And along with burning less fuel, slowed-down …

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‘Ahead of the Curve: Business Responds to Climate Change’

Here is an absolutely stellar video from Sea Studios productions called "Ahead of the Curve: Business Responds to Climate Change": (via Steve Clemons)

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Gore group will launch climate marketing campaign

Photo: World Resources Institute Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection plans to spend more than $300 million over the next three years on a marketing campaign aimed at getting Americans to address climate change. With ads developed by the Martin Agency (the folks behind the Geico cavemen and chatty gecko) and partnerships with grassroots groups, the campaign focus will be on the how-to aspect of cutting greenhouse gases. "Right now, we have incredible numbers of people in the U.S. who say global warming is an important problem that needs to be fixed," says the Martin Agency's Mike Hughes. "But most …

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria thrives in CAFO pork, and Wall Street gobbles up Big Meat shares

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. Back in December, Michael Pollan wrote a important article about the antibiotic resistant bacteria MSRA, which Pollan decsribed like this: ... the very scary antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that is now killing more Americans each year than AIDS -- 100,000 infections leading to 19,000 deaths in 2005, according to estimates in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Pollan writes that such strains have been around for a while, emanating from hospitals, where our medical experts quixotically drench patients with antibiotics, inevitably incubating resistant -- and …

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If 100 percent auctioning is done right, the trade component will be trivial

If all permits are auctioned, where is the need for large-scale trading? With modern electronics, there is no reason most permits can't be bought directly by those using them. Yes, there will be some trading: people will buy too many and need to resell, or engage in hedging, or use a broker for convenience's sake. But if the auctioning process is not made a major pain, these should be trivial in scale compared to direct purchase. Our short name should not emphasize the role of trade. Why is the terminology important? If you refer to support for 100 percent auctioning …

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The Kansas City Star: New coal plants are expensive

The Kansas City Star reports: Electric bills are poised to soar for customers of utilities building coal-fired power plants. Coal-based electric utility executive responds: We're moving forward regardless of what you namby-pamby, cheap-energy-loving hippies think.* Michael Dworkin then raises the obvious question: You've got to ask: "Do you think we have reached a point where it economically doesn't make sense?" It will be interesting to see how this affects the Sunflower Electric debate, since the state does now seem to be getting beyond the false belief that coal is cheap. *Italicized text implied but entirely fabricated by the author.