burning EarthEven if countries cut emissions as they pledged, it won’t be enough to thwart the effects of climate change.Here’s a little something not to be thankful for: If all the countries that pledged last year to cut their greenhouse gas emissions actually lived up to their commitments, it still wouldn’t be enough to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.  

Mind the gap: That’s the sobering news in a U.N. report released today, leading up to the start of the climate change conference in Cancun next week. It looks like there’s an “emissions gap” of 5 gigatons of carbon dioxide between the pledged cuts and what’s thought to be needed to avoid the more damaging consequences of global warming. The bottom line is that the commitments, which, of course, are strictly voluntary, get to only 60 percent of the target. [AP]

… the more things stay the same: Here’s another bit of news leading up to Cancun: China has finally conceded that it emits more greenhouse gases than any other country in the world. Not that it will change its attitude that, as a “developing” country, it shouldn’t be held to binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions. No, its negotiators are insisting as loudly as ever that developed countries like the U.S. should be held to tougher standards because they’re more responsible for getting the planet into this mess in the first place. So it goes. [Reuters]

Gas pains: And one last ray of sunshine: Thanks to a recovering global economy, we’re on track this year to set a new record for carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. [LiveScience]

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And in other green news:

The devil made him do it: Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) who last week blasted climate change deniers in his party, now says he’s convinced he lost in the Republican primary this year because of his belief in human-made global warming. [The Hill]

For many conservatives, it became the marker that you had crossed to Satan’s side — that you had left God and gone to Satan’s side on climate change because many evangelical Christians in our district would say that it’s up to God to determine the length of Earth, and therefore, you are invading the province of God.

Breaking the ice: The Arctic meltdown gets most of the attention, but it’s the thawing of the giant ice continent of Antarctica that poses the biggest threat to the planet. Writer Fen Montaigne explains why:

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The question now, as humanity pours greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate, is not whether Antarctica will begin to warm in earnest, but how rapidly. The melting of Antarctica’s northernmost region — the Antarctic Peninsula — is already well underway, representing the first breach in an enormous citadel of cold that holds 90 percent of the world’s ice. [e360]

The right man for the job: A guy who used to make his living trying to discredit studies proving the dangers of secondhand smoke for Phillip Morris is now spending his time challenging corporate executives for responding to global warming. [Mother Jones]

Spare change: Don’t be shocked but neither BP nor federal agencies were prepared to deal with the massive spill in the Gulf last summer. A new report from the president’s commission investigating the spill also said that the technology to deal with large spills hasn’t changed much for many years. As Steve Mufson reported in the Washington Post

… federal agencies consistently spent less than they were authorized to spend on improving cleanup technology. In addition, two of the five biggest oil companies — Conoco Phillips and Chevron — spent no money at all in the past 20 years on developing better in-house ways to clean up after a spill. Two companies spent only modest amounts, and BP’s response was unclear on whether it spent money on cleanup technology.

Bye, coastal: California has released a blueprint for how the state would adapt to climate change by limiting development along the coast and relocating coastal roads and bridges. [The New York Times]

A wind win: Cape Wind, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., which would be built off the coast of Massachusetts, has taken another big step forward. A large utility company has committed to buy energy from it. [Ecopolitology]

The way we whir: So how loud is a wind turbine? At 300 meters, the closest to a home a turbine would be erected, it would be louder than a refrigerator, but not as loud as an air conditioner. Check out the graphic at GE Reports

Leaf goes on: According to EPA estimates, the Nissan Leaf will get about 99 miles per gallon. [AP]

Talk about dead zones: A Dutch study suggests that wi-fi may not be so good for trees. [Treehugger]