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Climate & Energy


Tax or auction permits upstream

Because shopping shouldn’t require matrix algebra

A lot of people ask why carbon permits or taxes should be levied as far upstream as possible. Why tax or auction permits for pumping or importing oil, rather than burning it? One obvious answer is: red tape. Regardless of where a tax is levied, you will pay. But if it is collected at the wellhead, you don't have to have a separate line on every gas receipt under the sales tax. Your local supermarket does not have to buy a major upgrade to it's software, slowing the line you are in as their system crashes, and the checkers switch …


Al Gore slideshow tidbit

From Al's Journal: The trainees thus far have already given my slideshow more times collectively in the last six months -- 3,000 -- than I have been able to give it in 20 years.


Scientists and framing

The public doesn’t really need all that much science

While I was on vacation, science journalist Chris Mooney and social scientist Matthew Nisbet came out with a short commentary in Science. Their thesis was that scientists should pay attention to how they frame their public communication, so as to most effectively reach their target audience. To me this is obvious to the point of banality. Nonetheless, it sparked a enormous blog storm. Nisbet rounds most of the reactions up here. The paper got lots of support, but also lots of the predictable harumphing from scientists who insist that framing amounts to spin and theater -- which is, of course, …


Coming soon to a skeptic near you ...

Save the Martians!

GLOBAL WARMING ON MARS! I just read the Nature paper entitled "Global warming and climate forcing by recent albedo changes on Mars," by Fenton et al. I suspect it will make the rounds in the blogosphere in fairly short order, so here are a few things to remember about the paper. The analysis starts with two maps of planetary albedo for Mars -- one from the 1970s and one from 1999-2000. Albedo is a fancy name for reflectivity; how reflective a planet is, and how that reflectivity is distributed on the surface, has an impact on the planet's climate. These …


Beyond carbon taxes

A follow-up

My last article made the point that in fighting climate chaos, only a refundable carbon tax, one that returns revenues directly to the population, mitigates regressivity in way that benefits those hit hardest by such a tax. It concludes by pointing out that just about everyone who pays serious attention to the problem of climate chaos concludes that carbon taxes or cap and trade systems -- methods of putting a price on carbon -- cannot by themselves solve the problem. This post will explore in a bit more detail what additional measures can help reduce emissions. We could institute rule-based …


More ranks breaking among Big Oil

A new anti-Exxon?

ConocoPhillips steps up to the plate.


Ken Green on Gore's girth

Another conservative attack on motives

I'm always excited when people on the right address climate change, even if they say stupid things. At least they're starting to think about it. On National Review, Ken Green of AEI says that Gore's carbon tax proposal is great, but the rest of his proposals are both redundant and sucky. After listing them, he says: The fact that most of this agenda would be rendered superfluous by the tax shift shows the control-fiend mentality that really drives climate activists. If set at the right rate, a carbon tax would be virtually guaranteed to reduce emissions, but the climatistas can't …


Green around the Gilchrest

Good interview on climate change

Good interview with Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) in Foreign Policy in Focus this week. Gilchrest, chair of the House Climate Change Caucus and co-sponsor of the Climate Stewardship Act, was not appointed to the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming last month because he refused to deny that humans are causing climate change. A few excerpts from the interview: Gilchrest: There's no question that we're at a time when we need strong, bold initiatives. This is not something where we have decades to deal with it. When you create legislation, it's around for a long time before it's …


CSM's new climate change site

Check it out

The Christian Science Monitor has always had excellent environmental coverage, but now they've gone above and beyond by creating an entire website devoted to global warming. It's great one-stop shopping for the latest news. Speaking of, check out "Many new constraints for Bush on the environment," a delightful rundown of all the setbacks and humiliations suffered by the Bushies in the past year, complicating their perpetual quest to dismantle U.S. environmental policy.


Summary of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers, part III

This time, it’s personal

(Continued from parts I and II.) Last but not least (actually, what quite literally hits closest to home!): North America Moderate climate change in the early decades of the century is projected to increase aggregate yields of rain-fed agriculture by 5-20 percent, but with important variability among regions. Warming in Western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources. Disturbances from pests, diseases, and fire are projected to have increasing impacts on forests, with an extended period of high fire risk and large increases in area burned. Cities …