Climate & Energy

When $10.9 billion is just not enough

ExxonMobil’s profits huge; shares fall anyway

You know we're living in strange and perverse times when ExxonMobil can post a $10.9 billion quarterly profit and still fall short of expectations. This past quarter marked the second most profitable quarter ever for the most profitable company in the history of the world -- a 17 percent increase in year-on profits. And like its competitors at BP and Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon managed to increase its profits despite no increase in production. (Funny what happens when the price of oil literally doubles.) Nevertheless, Wall Street was disappointed and the company's shares fell sharply in early trading yesterday.

Create a diversion

Diverting war spending to green investments is both politically possible and neccesary

Is it possible to divert war spending into green investment? (David is skeptical.) The current military budget for fiscal year 2008 is around 650 billion dollars, not including supplemental requests, which so far have been made every year since the Iraq war started. That $700 billion-plus total compares to the around $400 billion of military spending in 2001. Given the current unpopularity of the Iraq war, would it really be politically impossible to gain public support for reducing our military budget back to pre-Operation Clusterf*ck levels? (I'd like to see much deeper cuts, but let's look a mere $300 billion reduction for the moment.)

650 million years in 94 minutes

A History Channel production on climate is worthwhile

A coworker lent me an amazing piece of work called A Global Warning? It does an excellent job illustrating the chaotic nature of terrestrial climate and explaining the theories behind some of the most dramatic climate transitions. It's not a perfect movie, but if you won't read With Speed and Violence, it's probably the best thing there is. It gets into both ocean clathrates (methane hydrate crystals) and the melting permafrost (more methane). Best of all, not a single denialist or confusionist in the whole thing. It simply says "most scientists," cites the IPCC (the only appearance by Gore is him picking up the Nobel), and makes a strong case that while climate may undergo some rapid changes without us, we have our collective finger on the trigger on the climate howitzer. No James Hansen, but lots of Lonnie Thompson (Ohio State), whom people will recall from The Weather Makers and other good books on the climate crisis.

Impossible emission force

Emission prices don’t reduce consumption sufficiently

Recently, I pointed out that emission prices do in fact get passed along to consumers. However, it's important to add that making low carbon alternatives cheaper won't by itself ensure that they are adopted. My online book Cooling It! No Hair Shirt Solutions to Global Warming documents numerous profitable-but-overlooked energy-saving alternatives. Numerous other people have pointed out the same thing. The Rocky Mountain Institute produces megabytes of examples. Economists refer to the fact that profitable opportunities to save energy tend to be overlooked as "low demand elasticity." You can find out more about why this tends to occur in an annotated bibliography I put together, currently posted as a Word doc at the Carbon Tax center website. Just to correct some ambiguities, this is not to say that an emissions price won't accomplish anything or is not needed - simply that it is not sufficient. That if we want the problem solved without absurdly high carbon prices, we need to use other policy tools, and not limit ourselves to putting a price on emission.

Obama on gas prices

If you can overlook the silly “price gouging” bit, this strikes me as an enormously effective push-back against Clinton’s attacks:

The mirror, not Malthus

The rhetoric of population in the hunger crisis

Perhaps you saw the recent UNESCO report on the future of agriculture. It calls for a major paradigm shift in agriculture away from fossil fuels toward organic agriculture and greater equity of distribution. Wow, I wonder why no one ever thought of that before? Seriously, this is the largest single report ever to tell us what we already knew: the status quo is not an option. That is, we cannot go into the future as we are. We all know this on some level.

Thought of the day: Social engineering and climate chaos

Social engineering can’t be avoided; why make it benefit only the rich?

There is passionate opposition in some circles to combining "social engineering" with fighting climate chaos. But the fact is, an emissions cut is social engineering. To cut emissions, we are trying to make some of the biggest changes in individual and social behavior ever. Putting 100 percent of that change on the backs of ordinary people by giving away emissions permits that are then sold and incorporated into the prices of consumer goods is also social engineering -- social engineering that transfers income and wealth from ordinary people to the wealthy.

Climate poll

Via E&E ($ub. req’d), a new Harris poll found that "66 percent of respondents say it is important for the president to have a policy …


Sam Stein: “Expert Support For McCain-Clinton Gas Plan Appears Nonexistent“ Stein’s not kidding, either — he looked for experts who’d support it. No luck.