As the most ardent Gristophiles know, this site is hosting a lively debate over the degree to which prices imposed on carbon emissions will impact energy costs. To recap, if prices do impact costs, then a carbon tax provides an investment incentive. If they don't, then we need some carrots to go with the stick of a tax. Hot off the presses comes this bit of news from Greenwire ($ub req'd): Duke Energy Ohio is asking federal regulators to approve the transfer of its Ohio power plants to companies owned by North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp. whose rates are set in a competitive market instead of by state regulators. Why, you ask?
A trio of fine letters in The NYT today, taking Richard Cohen to task for his reflexive praise of sugar-cane ethanol.
Bill Gates. Unlike his bridge buddy Warren Buffett, who recently canceled six planned coal projects, Bill Gates is still pushing coal. Cascade Investment Management, his personal investment company, is the largest stakeholder (9 percent) in Otter Tail Corporation, the lead sponsor of the controversial Big Stone II coal project. Last week, eight Minnesota legislators, led by Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL) of Minneapolis and Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL) of St. Paul, wrote to Gates, asking him to visit Minnesota in order to investigate green investment opportunities that would "align the values of your foundation with your investment strategy." In April, NASA's James Hansen appealed to Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to oppose Big Stone II: "You can help inspire your state and the rest of the country to take the bold actions that are essential if we are to retain a hospitable climate."
The Nature article ($ub. req'd) that has caused so much angst about the possibility that we are entering a decade of cooling -- "Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector" -- has been widely misreported. I base this in part on direct communication with the lead author. In fact, with the caveat from the authors that the study should be viewed as preliminary, and should not be used for year-by-year predictions, it is more accurate to say the Nature study is consistent with the following statements: The "coming decade" (2010 to 2020) is poised to be the warmest on record, globally. The coming decade is poised to see faster temperature rise than any decade since the authors' calculations began in 1960. The fast warming would likely begin early in the next decade -- similar to the 2007 prediction by the Hadley Center in Science (see "Climate forecast: hot -- and then very hot"). The mean North American temperature for the decade from 2005 to 2015 is projected to be slightly warmer than the actual average temperature of the decade from 1993 to 2003. Before explaining where the confusion came from -- mostly a misunderstanding of how the Nature authors use the phrase "next decade" -- let's see how the media covered it:
So I was thinking to myself, self, you should do a link dump post so you can close out some of this cluttery crap in your browser. I go to start one, and what do I find? An old link dump post that I’d never published! So here’s an old link dump. Watch for a new one in mere days! —– Thanks to the UK Times Online for deeming Gristmill "the green blog from the other side of the pond." It’s a shame this op-ed is relegated to the Billings Gazette. I’d like to see one like it in every …
Congressional Democrats are expected to announce their plan to counter the rising cost of gasoline as early as next Wednesday, and despite the pressure Sen. Hillary Clinton is putting on her congressional colleagues, it’s not likely to include a “gas tax holiday.” The plan being worked up by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and a team of Democratic senators will be focused instead on long-term solutions, according to Bill Wicker, spokesperson for Bingaman, chair the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “I think the overall frame of the Democratic bill is to try to …
There has been a lot of nonsense written about the lack of much if any warming over the last few years. It's not a new argument -- in fact, I blogged about it here -- but like an axe-wielding psycho from a cheap horror flick, it just keeps coming back. At times like this, it is always useful to look at the data. The figure below shows the temperature anomalies (relative to the 1961-1991 average) from 1850 to 2007. The data are the Hadley HadCRUT3v analysis.
I'm listening to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) talk to Thom Hartmann on Air America. Sanders is arguably the best senator in decades, and understands, as he just explained, that we need to transform our energy system toward renewables. But he also said something to the effect that "we have to get gas prices back down." I can't blame him -- particularly in his state of Vermont, rural people are getting slammed by high gas prices, because they have to drive long distances. His main explanation of high prices (with which Thom Hartmann, an important progressive radio talk show host, seems to agree) is based on 1) oil companies ripping us off, 2) speculators pushing up the price of oil, and 3) OPEC keeping a lid on production. While all of those are certainly a problem, and a windfall profits tax that Sanders advocates is certainly in order, if the Senate's most progressive voice is not discussing the problem that the supply of oil is beginning to decline, then I don't see how carbon pricing is going to fare well. In the long run, people will get hysterical as their oil expenditures increase, as I argued in what I will now call Part 1 of what may become a series on oil hysteria. We need to push a mandate on turning the American car fleet into an all-electric fleet, and we need to construct a national high-speed rail and light rail network.
We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.