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2007: hottest year on record so far

Or is it just us?

April may have seemed on the cool side in this country, but globally it was the third warmest on record (and the warmest April ever over land). In fact, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reports that "globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the warmest on record for January-April year-to-date period." Drudge reported the April news perversely: "WARMING ON HOLD? April’s temperatures were below average ..." April temperature anomalies are shown on the dot map below. The redder it is, the hotter it is: Note that the real news is that much of Siberia is a stunning …

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'Cap and trade': another notion that's past its use-by date

It runs together several distinct things

There's been a nice, coherent-if-incipient debate on cap-and-trade on this blog lately, which I've alas been too busy to reply to. But I wanted to throw in just one small thought: it just might be time to ditch the whole notion. It conflates at least three things together, and as they are all quite different, the "trading debate" as we know it is both confusing and confused. Cap-and-grandfather: A market-based system in which existing polluters are granted the right to continue polluting, modulo some typically minor and politically negotiated reduction. This right comes in the form of "allowances" that polluters …

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A bit of philosophy

The ethics of climate change

It's probably rude to point to this RealClimate post on a recent meeting at the University of Washington on Ethics and Climate Change, since it mentions me. But it's really Paul Baer, EcoEquity's Research Director, that attended, and who got top billing as the author of the "influential" (and out of press) book Dead Heat. The real issue here, as far as we're concerned, is the notion of "developmental equity," which we are trying to develop and defend as a normative and politically salient alternative to "equal per capita emissions rights." Anyway, this is worth a quick read. The comments …

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Gas price roundup

Do gas prices affect behavior or not?

Despite record-setting gas prices, U.S. drivers haven't changed their gas-guzzling habits, says AP. Not only are we consuming as much as we always have, new vehicle sales seem to be tilting even more in favor of trucks than cars. But wait, USA Today disagrees. They say that drivers are, in fact, starting to cut back on how much they drive -- a clear sign that higher gas prices are starting to bite. Who's right? Who cares! Either way, the consumer response to massive increases in gas prices over the last five years has been teensy-tiny. New studies are suggesting, in …

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Biden recites conventional wisdom on ethanol

You won't see it in a more pure form than this: (thanks LL)

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Efficiency and market failure

A new report says regulations are needed

A while back I mentioned a McKinsey Global Institute report showing that efficiency is the fastest, cheapest way to cut global GHG emissions. Now McKinsey's got a new report out, making a heretical claim: even though homeowners could vastly improve energy efficiency and save tons of money over the long term with current technologies, there won't be widespread adoption of those technologies without market intervention -- i.e., stronger regulations. Whatever will the market fundies think? Speaking of efficiency, Joel Makower's got a good roundup of recent efficiency news.

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After the sinks comes the drain

Once we blow through the carbon sinks, it’s down the drain for us

Another sign that the economists' central myth, their creation story in a sense -- that there is a replacement for anything scarce and the replacement appears whenever the price of the depeleting resource gets high enough -- is the most dangerous fantasy in the world: Alas, there are no replacement carbon sinks, and we seemed to have filled ours up. Now we learn that, after you're through in the sinks, you head down the drain.

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'We don't believe targets and timetables are important'

U.S. continues to resist pressure on climate change

If I may indulge for a moment in some blogospheric vitriol and vulgarity ... I really can't wait 'til these a**holes are gone: The United States will fight climate change by funding clean energy technologies and will continue to reject emissions targets or cap and trade schemes, its chief climate negotiator Harlan Watson said on Thursday. ... "We don't believe targets and timetables are important, or a global cap and trade system," Watson told Reuters, speaking on the fringes of a UN hosted climate change meeting in Bonn. "It's important not to jeopardise economic growth."

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Exxon still up to no good

Funding deniers, still, in 2007?

A little while back Exxon was trying to backpedal on its global warming shenanigans, claiming it had been misunderstood and that it wasn't funding those nasty denialist groups any more. In what is sure to come as a huge shock to ... nobody, that turned out to be bullsh*t. According to a new report from Greenpeace, Exxon is still actively funding 14 groups for "climate change work," and you can bet that work isn't devoted to fine-tuning a cap-and-trade system. Today, Rep. Brad Miller sent Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson a letter (PDF) chastising him for this ongoing nonsense. Good luck …

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Carbon tax: not so regressive after all?

A new study with intriguing conclusions

This is interesting. One of the big dings on a carbon tax has been that it's regressive -- it will hurt the poor (who pay a higher percentage of their income for energy) more than the rich. But according to a new study, it ain't so: But the new study, based on data from Indonesia, shows that in terms of energy consumption, the impact on the rural poor would be much less than that on wealthy people in cities, as the poor use comparatively little energy. The poor could actually benefit from a carbon tax. Rising energy prices mean that …

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