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Economic effect of cap-and-trade: A wager

Will you take it?

So, Reuters took a look at the EPA's economic analysis of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act (so I didn't have to!). In case your memory is hazy, the CSA is a cap-and-trade bill that would cut emissions 65% by 2050. Here's the nut: The EPA found that the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007 would shave up to 1.6 percent, or $419 billion, off a baseline forecast for U.S. gross domestic product in 2030 and up to 3.2 percent, or $1.332 trillion, by 2050. That is, by any reasonable measure, a modest price to pay. Even so, I bet …

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Glowing orbs for everyone

Making electricity visible helps reduce consumption

Here's what might be an ingenious idea, as reported by Wired: Mark Martinez couldn't get Southern California Edison customers to conserve energy. As the utility's manager of program development, he had tried alerting them when it was time to dial back electricity use on a hot day -- he'd fire off automated phone calls, zap text messages, send emails. No dice. Then he saw an Ambient Orb. It's a groovy little ball that changes color in sync with incoming data -- growing more purple, for example, as your email inbox fills up or as the chance of rain increases. Martinez …

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Cheney suppressed evidence of market manipulation in California power crisis

New investigative report

Don't miss Jason Leopold's crack investigative reporting on Truthout today: This story is based on a two-month investigation into Cheney's energy task force; how the vice president pressured cabinet officials to conceal clear-cut evidence of market manipulation during California's energy crisis, and how that subsequently led Cheney to exert executive privilege when lawmakers called on him to turn over documents related to his meetings with energy industry officials who helped draft the National Energy Policy and also gamed California's power market. Truthout spoke with more than a dozen former officials from the Energy Department and FERC as well as current …

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Climate confusion in Hong Kong

Dumb arguments rear their heads yet again

A reader pointed me to a letter in the South China Morning Post, "Cold water on the warming debate" (subs. req'd). The writer, a senior research fellow of the HK Institute of Economics and Business, rehashes a number of mistaken arguments I hear all too often: Many people fail to knit together these two strands - climate change and the exhaustion of fossil fuels. If they did, they would see that the energy crisis, which is predicted as a result of the exhaustion of fossil fuel reserves, contains the seeds of the resolution of the global warming crisis. As fossil …

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Offset mania

Can’t we offset something other than carbon?

Lordy, this is getting out of hand: Under the agreement announced Wednesday, the Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will allow individuals or groups to make charitable contributions that will be used to plant trees and do other work to improve national forests. ... Under the new program, known as the Carbon Capital Fund, consumers can "offset" their carbon emissions by investing in projects on national forests to plant trees and improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat and help restore public lands damaged by natural disasters such as wildfires. Tell me, why can't you give money to "plant trees …

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NASA's Hansen on Live Earth, Gore, and coal

It’s all about coal

More from James Hansen's email: I was invited to go on stage at "Live Earth" at the Meadowlands, between Jon Bon Jovi and Smashing Pumpkins performances. I agreed to this, on the condition that I could bring my grandchildren, Sophie and Connor. I assumed it would be like last year when I appeared with Al Gore before a young audience, with a rather impromptu discussion of global warming. Bad assumption. When I asked "Where's Al?", I was told that I would be going out alone, and didn't I have something to put on the teleprompter? Hmm. Well, with someone standing …

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Bad news for coal, lessons for enviros

New coal-fired plants are unlikely

This from the Wall Street Journal today: From coast to coast, plans for a new generation of coal-fired power plants are falling by the wayside as states conclude that conventional coal plants are too dirty to build and the cost of cleaner plants is too high. If significant numbers of new coal plants don't get built in the U.S. in coming years, it will put pressure on officials to clear the path for other power sources, including nuclear power, or trim the nation's electricity demand, which is expected to grow 1.8% this year. In a time of rising energy costs, …

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Cost containment for the carbon market: A step toward cap-and-trade

Moderate senators are ready to get on board

As Joe mentioned yesterday, four moderate-to-conservative senators -- John Warner (R-Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) -- just proposed a measure to achieve "Cost-Containment for the Carbon Market." I wanted to spend a bit of time on what's in it and what it means. You might think, given the business-friendly senators involved, that the measure's going to be a gimmick to let industries off the hook. Happily, it was jointly developed with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, a sharp new outfit at Duke University. It appears to be a credible attempt to devise …

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Umbra on tidal power

Dear Umbra, Much is made of wind, solar, geothermal, and even wave power, but why doesn't anyone talk about tidal power? It has more power than wind for the same turbine, without the eyesore of turbines, is totally renewable, and is predictable hundreds of years in advance. Yet nobody talks about it. What's wrong with tidal? Chris MorrisonLondon, England Dearest Chris, The tides appear fruitful, but we disturb the ocean at our peril. Do oceans hold the answer? Photo: iStockphoto One concern is that tides follow the lunar cycle, but human power use is linked to the solar cycle. There …

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Is it unmanly to carpool?

A gender fender mind-bender

For the last few weeks, my fella and I have been staying with a male friend during a monthlong gap between homes. Fella and Friend work at the same company, about 30 minutes away. Every morning, Fella and Friend get up, go about their morning routines, get in their cars, and leave -- all within 5 minutes of each other. Before we moved in, and once since then, I suggested that they carpool. Different schedules, they protested. Wouldn't work. This morning, as I waved them off at the same time, I found myself wondering if gender plays a role in …

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