Climate & Energy

Next decade could be cooler than expected, says study

Natural shifts in ocean circulation may trump human-caused warming over the next decade, causing global temperatures to cool slightly, says new research published in the journal Nature. But hang on to your pessimism: “Just to …

One hand clapping

Economic naïvete on carbon prices

If you put a price on GHG emissions, will it raise the cost of energy? That question goes to the core of carbon policy. Unfortunately, many people inside and outside the environmental community consistently get it wrong, with potentially disastrous results. Consider: if the answer is yes, then we don't need any incentives for GHG reduction. The costs of carbon-intensive energy will rise, giving we energy users the incentive they need to lower consumption. But if the answer is no, we will find ourselves with a tax on dirty energy but no incentive to reduce its use. That is, we will end up with a greenhouse-gas policy that fails to do the one thing it's supposed to do above all else: lower our greenhouse-gas emissions. The answer, more often than not, is no.

Food prices are high, and so are Big Ag’s profits

Food prices hitting you hard in the pocketbook? Agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland feels for you, it really does — but gee, its profits jumped 42 percent this quarter, so it can’t really empathize. ADM’s …

Reason #689,251 oil sands suck

Killing ducks?! Come on now.

Carbon policy dilemma, 3

Trading efficiency for inevitability

This is the third in a series; see parts one and two. To briefly recap: Simplicity, efficiency, and political buy-in are important elements of climate policy, but if you want the first, you can only …

'ANWR, nukes, more ethanol, new technology, blah, blah, blah'

Bush’s energy/food strategy unsurprisingly underwhelming

Bush had a press conference yesterday morning to blame Congress for soaring energy and food prices: "Unfortunately, on many of these issues, all [Americans] are getting is delay." What does non-delayer Bush propose? Well, of course, new technology -- what else is new old? Heck, he even said the long-term answer was hydrogen. (Not!) Oh, but he did offer some "short-term" solutions. His answer to rising electricity prices: Nukes!

Recycling a carbon tax into carbon fighting

Perpetual montion does not work any better in economics than it does in technology

In David Roberts' post on the carbon policy dilemma, David defines an "efficient" carbon policy as follows: First, in a given sector, you set up a system that transfers capital directly from those over-emitting to those reducing emissions, in an agnostic fashion -- that is, preferencing no particular set of technologies or practices. A ton of CO2 ought to be worth the same no matter how it is emitted or prevented, and there should be no net loss of capital in the sector (as there would be if the feds took the revenue and spent it on other things). Second, you remove existing regulatory barriers to that capital flow. As long as capital continues flowing from emitters to savers, you've got a perpetual economic motion machine. My guess is the use of a perpetual motion machine as a metaphor was a message from David's subconscious, because it is impossible to set up a mechanism where the transfer "to" is as efficient and automatic as the transfer "from."

The unbearable tightness of oil markets

America is ill equipped to handle expensive oil

The Times‘ Jad Mouawad has written a piece describing the state of the world’s oil market. It is, in a word, tight. Production volumes have been flat at best, and consumption growth has continued. Kevin …

Colbert on ethanol and the energy war