Friday, August 31, 2007

Climate change may wash away China's dream

THE huge industrial zone at the heart of the "Made in China" economic miracle could be inundated by sea water as a result of global warming, scientists say.

Meteorologists in Guangdong, the coastal province neighbouring Hong Kong which has led China's manufacturing boom, estimate sea levels could rise by 30 centimetres by 2050. That could lead to more than 1200 square kilometres of the province being flooded, the report by its weather authority said.

Worst affected would be the major hubs of Guangzhou, the provincial capital; Zhuhai, which borders Macau; and Foshan, home to a vast range of factories including several of those caught up in the recent safety recall by the US toy company Mattel.

Du Raodong, a weather bureau scientist, told the China Daily that southern China was warming more quickly than the rest of the country, partly due to its economic development which had come at the expense of its land resources and led to the production of many industrial pollutants.

As well as the loss of land due to flooding, the province would suffer from salt tides, tainting its fresh water with sea water and posing a major threat to drinking water supplies. A build-up of algae would damage crops.

The report will add weight to recent arguments that not only must China address the environmental consequences of its growth, often achieved with scant regard to pollution control, but that the so-called "Guangdong model" of development might need to be readdressed.

A recent study suggested that manufacturing a computer in Guangdong caused three times the carbon emissions of making it in the US, due to poorer environmental standards....

From The Telegraph via the Sydney Morning Herald

Ethanol Upgrades

A Lehman Brothers analyst upgraded shares of ethanol producers Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc. and VeraSun Energy Corp. Thursday, saying flat corn prices, impending alternative energy legislation and a narrower spread between the cost of ethanol and gasoline could lift the shares as much as 50 percent in the next three months.

Both stocks are trading near annual lows, with VeraSun shares down 24.8 percent since July 11, and Aventine shares off 25.3 percent.... MORE from Forbes

China not ready to join post-Kyoto Protocol pact

China should not be obligated to join any post-Kyoto Protocol international pact to curb global warming, a senior Chinese environmental official said here Wednesday.

Han Wenke, director-general of the Beijing-based Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China was simply not ready to join an international framework to combat global warming after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012....

MORE from the Asahi Shimbun

India Looks to Tap Carbon Market

It is a market expected to grow to US$100 billion in the near future, and Indian firms want to reap some of the benefits.

The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol allows richer countries to trade their emission-reduction targets with developing countries by buying carbon credits earned by the latter for projects reducing emission of greenhouse gases, those suspected of accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere and trapping the sun's heat, contributing to global warming.

Recent estimates predict that uncontrolled carbon emissions could cost the global economy more than $200 billion annually by 2030 unless the pollution levels are controlled. Environmental group Greenpeace has said that shifting to renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions could save Southeast Asia $80 billion annually.

Indeed, with the Western world (read Europe and Canada, not the United States yet) looking at the CDM seriously, Indian firms do not want to lose out on the business opportunity due to investments in clean technology.

Recently, an Indian firm won the single largest issuance of carbon credits by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which awarded 5.4 million carbon credits to two projects owned by India's JSW Steel. One project was issued 4 million carbon credits, the single biggest credit.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has said that Indian companies may earn almost $4 billion through carbon-credit sales in the near future....
MORE from Asia Times

Warming Trend: White Jeans Year Round

The seems to have caught the holiday mood with this topical piece from yesterday. Here are a couple exerpts:

...The move toward seasonless dressing is largely an effect of climate change. In most places in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is getting warmer, and winters are shorter and less extreme, according to the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University in New York. Radley Horton, a climatologist at the center says 11 of the Earth's 12 warmest years since 1890 occurred after 1996*. But in recent years, he says, "there are less extreme differentials between seasons," he says. The result: Spring is starting earlier by a week to 10 days, and fall is starting about a week later.

*(Climateer edit-As you are probably aware, there is some debate about this factoid, see this from the very same the day before "NASA now says six of the 10 warmest years were in the 1930s and 1940s." Whether the fact that Mr. Horton hangs his hat at the same institution as James E. Hansen has influenced his comment [there is also consternation that Mr. Hansen's NASA keeps records when NOAA is the official keeper of the score], I don't know).

Crazy weather and global warming are growing concerns to apparel makers as they must market fashions across the U.S. and abroad where climates are varied. Last month, Liz Claiborne Inc. invited Mr. Horton, the climatologist, to an informal discussion with 30 executives, where the talk ranged from fabrics to the timing of seasonal markdowns and retail deliveries.

Since we're on the fashion beat, Tobias Meyer, Birkenstock Home, may have committed a fashion faux pas by naming the color of the strap on these Birkie sandals "Ballistic Anthracite", coal and Birkenstock wearers not often being found in the same room.

Finally NPR weighs in with a guy who's no slave to fashion:

Did Climate Inspire the Birth of a Monster?

If you ask people about weather and Frankenstein, they usually think of one thing: the scenes from the classic horror films, which show Victor Frankenstein in a storm, using lightning bolts to jumpstart his creation as he cries "It's alive! It's alive!"

You won't find that dramatic scene in Mary Shelley's book, according to Bill Phillips, who teaches literature at the University of Barcelona in Spain.

Although Shelley wrote that the scientist infused the lifeless being with a spark of being," Phillips says that "there's no lightning or anything. It's not as spectacular as it is in the films."

Still, Phillips thinks that the movies do get the right idea in a larger sense.

Science in Fiction

He and other scholars think that extreme weather was involved in the birth of the creature — just not in the way we usually think. That's because Shelley wrote her book during a period of extremely freaky weather in Europe and North America....

Priest offers festival-goers the chance to confess their green sins

The Times of London reports that the Climate Indulgences meme has been taken to its logical conclusion.

Nine out of ten people tell little green lies about how much they recycle and how little they consume, according to a recent survey.

The Roman Catholic Church is at hand with a new line in “green confessions” to help eco-sinners to find forgiveness.

Dom Anthony Sutch, the Benedictine monk who resigned as head of Downside School to become a parish priest in Suffolk, will be at the county’s Waveney Greenpeace festival this weekend to hear eco-confessions in what is thought to be the first dedicated confessional booth of its kind.

Vested in a green chasuble-style garment made from recycled curtains, and in a booth constructed of recycled doors, he will hear the sins of of those who have not recycled the things they ought to have done and who have consumed the things they ought not to have done....MORE

Ensign: Coal plants make Nevada greener

Now there's an argument you don't hear every day.
Scroll to bottom for info. to make you smarter than a fifth grader
(and the majority of college graduates).
Development of three coal-fired power plants in Nevada is justified in order to take full advantage of Nevada’s potential for renewable energy generation, Sen. John Ensign said today.

Ensign, touring the Ormat geothermal plant in south Reno, said the proposed coal plants would make possible construction of power transmission lines that could also carry power generated by geothermal, wind and other renewable energy to Las Vegas.

“All of it works together to make us less reliant on energy coming from out of our state,” Ensign said. “The coal plants will actually make us greener.”

By Jeff DeLong for the Reno Gazette-Journal

Taking the opposing position: Greenpeace.

Greenpeace Says Activists Disrupted Coal Delivery

Greenpeace said its activists intercepted a ship delivering coal to an Ontario power plant on the shore of Lake Erie to protest greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired plants.

Greenpeace boats tried to stop the vessel from delivering its load, and three activists locked themselves onto the ship, Shawn Patrick Stensil, an energy campaigner for Greenpeace, said in a telephone interview. The vessel is carrying 30,000 tons of coal for the Nanticoke power plant, he said.

The action comes one day after Ontario's power system operator said it will spend C$60 billion ($56.7 billion) over 20 years to build nuclear reactors and renewable energy supplies. The Ontario Power Authority plans to phase-out greenhouse-gas emitting coal plants....

From Bloomberg

The Globe and Mail reported:

Greenpeace intruders arrested

Three Greenpeace activists were arrested Thursday and charged with mischief after they boarded an ore carrier hauling coal across Lake Erie to a power plant in Ontario.

Five activists initially boarded the Algomarine in a bid to delay the delivery of nearly 30,000 tonnes of coal to the Nanticoke power plant and draw attention to the issue of global warming, said Greenpeace spokeswoman Joslyn Higginson.

“Our objective overall is to bring attention to the coal issue, particularly the phase-out issue in the election campaign and to bring attention to clean energy options in the upcoming election,” Ms. Higginson said.

“We're going to stay until we're satisfied that we've done that.”


Here's the EIA's:
Carbon Dioxide Emission Factors for Coal

The carbon dioxide emission factors in this article are expressed in terms of the energy content of coal as pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) forms during coal combustion when one atom of carbon (C) unites with two atoms of oxygen (O) from the air. Because the atomic weight of carbon is 12 and that of oxygen is 16, the atomic weight of carbon dioxide is 44. Based on that ratio, and assuming complete combustion, 1 pound of carbon combines with 2.667 pounds of oxygen to produce 3.667 pounds of carbon dioxide.

For example, coal with a carbon content of 78 percent and a heating value of 14,000 Btu per pound emits about 204.3 pounds of carbon dioxide per million Btu when completely burned. Complete combustion of 1 short ton (2,000 pounds) of this coal will generate about 5,720 pounds (2.86 short tons) of carbon dioxide.

Clip and save. Test next week. After the section on alkanes.

BBC news chiefs attack plans for climate change campaign

Following up on the Editor & Publisher column that called for journalists to advocate science and policy positions, "Get over objectivity, Newspapers", shared here at CI, I decided to drag this Guardian story, reporting on the BBC, out of the link-vault.

Two of the BBC's most senior news and current affairs executives attacked the corporation's plans yesterday for a Comic Relief-style day of programming on environmental issues, saying it was not the broadcaster's job to preach to viewers.

The event, understood to have been 18 months in development, would see stars such as Ricky Gervais and Jonathan Ross take part in a "consciousness raising" event, provisionally titled Planet Relief, early next year.

But, speaking at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday, Newsnight's editor, Peter Barron, and the BBC's head of television news, Peter Horrocks, attacked the plan, which also seems to contradict the corporation's guidelines. Asked whether the BBC should campaign on issues such as climate change, Mr Horrocks said: "I absolutely don't think we should do that because it's not impartial. It's not our job to lead people and proselytise about it." Mr Barron said: "It is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet. I think there are a lot of people who think that, but it must be stopped...."


Bandwidth could be a new global 'currency'

Enron saw it coming:

Bandwidth could become a form of "currency" with users paying for downloaded files by uploading more data themselves, researchers say.

The goal is to ensure that future content, particularly video, is distributed as fairly and efficiently as possible.

Computer scientists have have used the idea to develop peer-to-peer file-sharing software, which they are asking computer users to try out. They hope eventually to create a "global marketplace in bandwidth", where people can trade it as a commodity....

Now, a little cap for artificial scarcity; a little trade, throw in some U.N. regulation and we've got us a "market" (or a comedy souffle).

From NewScientistTech

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Home Price Decline to Accelerate - Count On It

Jim Kingsland at the Kingsland Report says:

It won't be pretty folks. If Goldman and Shilling are right, and historically housing bubbles have always deflated back to about where they started, consumer spending will die out and we'll see a recession by early next year.

Gary Shilling, who I chatted with today for this piece for CNBC and who is quoted below, thinks we will see a recession due to the housing crunch by the end of the year. Good luck folks.

If you think the decline in home prices is bad now, just wait.

Two reports out his week show the once high-flying housing market is quickly losing altitude and that prices are likely to head still lower.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Tuesday, prices fell 3.2% in the second quarter, the sharpest decline since the index was created in 1987. The pace of decline accelerated from 1.6% in the first quarter.

On top of that, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday that the median price of existing homes eased 0.6% in July, to $228,900.

Both reports portray weakening housing prices, but the declines have been in the single-digits or smaller so far. That may be about to change.

"I think we’re yet to get to the main event," said Gary Shilling, president of A Gary Shilling, a money-management firm. "We continue to look for a 25% decline in median single-family house prices. I think this is really just getting started." MORE

Weathering Corruption

Peter T. Leeson, George Mason University
Russell S. Sobel, West Virginia University
July 31, 2007


Could bad weather be responsible for U.S. corruption?

Natural disasters create resource windfalls in the states they strike by triggering federally-provided natural disaster relief. By increasing the benefit of fraudulent appropriation and creating new opportunities for such theft, disaster relief windfalls may also increase corruption.

We investigate this hypothesis by exploring the e¤ect of FEMA-provided disaster relief on public corruption. The results support our hypothesis.

Each additional $100 per capita in FEMA relief increases the average state’s corruption nearly 102 percent. Our fndings suggest that notoriously corrupt regions of the United States, such as the Gulf Coast, are in part notoriously corrupt because natural disasters frequently strike them. They attract more disaster relief making them more corrupt.

The paper is in the form of a 23 page PDF

The Subprime Mess From Mount Olympus

My quick look for commentary on climate-change advocacy journalism at the Columbia Journalism Review got sidetracked by The Audit's column of the above title, commenting on James Grant's New York Times Op-Ed, which we linked to on Tuesday because of its climate reference:

"...Late in the 1880s, long before the institution of the Federal Reserve, Eastern savers and Western borrowers teamed up to inflate the value of cropland in the Great Plains. Gimmicky mortgages — pay interest and only interest for the first two years! — and loose talk of a new era in rainfall beguiled the borrowers.

High yields on Western mortgages enticed the lenders. But the climate of Kansas and Nebraska reverted to parched, and the drought-stricken debtors trudged back East or to the West Coast in wagons emblazoned, “In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted.” To the creditors went the farms."

From Dean Starkman at the CJR:
Why James Grant’s long view comes up short

This Op-Ed piece in the Sunday New York Times by James Grant makes a good point about the Federal Reserve being too quick to intervene to let irresponsible risk-takers off the hook in the subprime collapse. He applauds, rightly, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s resistance to demands for broadly lower interest rates:

Maybe he is seeing the light that capitalism without financial failure is not capitalism at all, but a kind of socialism for the rich.

But on the way, Grant lets the main actors in the debacle, lenders and regulators, off the hook and perpetuates a bogus business-press truism that unscrupulous conduct is inevitable or somehow even necessary for our economy to work. I also feel that this view from 30,000 feet provides a too-convenient perspective for a business press that is often too busy cranking out flattering profiles to hold bad corporate actors to account.

Every time we have one of these meltdowns, the business press will tell us that they knew those mortgages (real-estate limited partnerships, analyst reports, tech shares, Bernie Ebbers, Adelphia, etc.) were trouble all along, everyone knew it, in fact, and besides, you know, ‘twas ever thus, or something—anything other than introspection....

That's enough on media for one day. It's a tough business.
I still can't get over Vogue having 727 pages of ads though.

Climate Change: Get Over Objectivity, Newspapers

That's a column head at Editor & Publisher. I figured since this was turning into media day at Climateer Investing (now published with re-cycled electrons!), I'd show you this, from Steve Outing:

The industry still has a lot of power to influence people. How about if newspapers abandon their old way of doing things when it comes to the issue of global warming, and turn their influence to good?

I've been thinking a lot about climate change (aka, global warming) a lot lately. (Haven't you?) Having kids, I'm concerned about what kind of world my generation is leaving them, of course. And I'm mulling over what I can do, to "do my part" (ride my bike to work more; my family bought a hybrid car; teach my kids green habits; etc.).

I've also been thinking about the newspaper industry and global warming. And frankly, I don't think newspapers are doing enough. Indeed, newspapers' fabled commitment to "objectivity" has been a detriment to efforts to combat global warming.

The industry still has a lot of power to influence people. How about if newspapers abandon their old way of doing things when it comes to the issue of global warming, and turn their influence to good? It just might be that through this issue alone, newspapers revive themselves to some extent. Editors are shirking their responsibility to improve our world, in my view, so let's change that....
MORE at E & P

I'll check with the CJR on advocacy journalism. While I'm away your assignment is to research which of these ancien names goes tits-up first:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

San Francisco Chronicle

Business Magazine Update

How timely. The day we pass along the 10% decrease in Business magazine ad pages, Mental Floss is reporting:

...I’ve written about the size of fashion magazines in the past, both in essays and fiction, but I really must dip a toe back into the pool again here because, I’m sorry, but the new issue of Vogue has – not kidding – 727 pages of advertising!!

And guess what folks, they’re so proud of this inanity, they’ve gone and boasted as much on the front cover! Yes, it’s 100 pages thicker than last year’s September issue!...

More at Mental Floss

India tribe to honor Al Gore on global warming

...The chieftains have invited Gore to their remote village for the award ceremony on Oct 6 where they expect 300,000 local people to attend. The award will consist of some traditional gifts and a "small amount of money".

A spokeswoman for Gore said he was "very humbled" to hear of the award but did not know whether he would be able to attend the ceremony....

From Reuters

Son of subprime: Credit card debt

Let me get the Hat Tips out of the way right up front, this from Andrew Leonard at Salon:

Somehow, the global financial system managed to survive while How the World Works was on blissful vacation. But while quailing in fear at thousands of unread e-mails and blog-reader items, one data point about the U.S. economy caught our eye. The Financial Times reported on Monday that "U.S. consumers are defaulting on credit-card payments at a significantly higher rate than last year..." (Thanks to Calculated Risk for the tip.)

...In other words, is there a derivatives house of cards balanced on the ever-popular "slicing and dicing" of credit card debt comparable to the subprime mess that precipitated August's credit crunch? MORE

I'd be a bit suspicious of sub-prime plastic co.'s, One in particular. Cof, cof.

Liberal Democrats reveal plans for zero carbon Britain

That's the LibDem headline, not pejorative as in the U.S., note caps.
Following up on the Monbiot story below, we have a political (everything human is political, isn't it) prescription (proscription).

Liberal Democrats reveal plans for zero carbon Britain
28 August 2007

The Liberal Democrats today revealed radical proposals to transform Britain into an international leader in tackling climate change, making the country carbon neutral by 2050.

The measures, which will be debated at the party’s conference in Brighton next month, strengthen the Liberal Democrats’ position as the only major political party with specific proposals designed to face the challenge of climate change.

Proposals in the paper ‘Zero Carbon Britain - Taking a Global Lead’ include:

  • Major improvements to the rail network and the construction of a high speed rail line, paid for by tolling lorries on motorways
  • A commitment to 100 per cent carbon free, non-nuclear electricity by 2050
  • The use of green taxes to make the polluter pay, using the revenue to cut income tax
  • Introducing ‘green mortgages’ to enable people to make their homes more energy efficient

LibDem Press Release

And from the Policy Paper, a couple things that caught my eye:

An unfortunate name- "Working for the establishment of an International Leapfrog Fund..."

Liberal Democrats oppose the Labour Government’s plan to build a new generation of
nuclear power plants. Nuclear power remains an excessively expensive form of energy generation that requires some type of public subsidy, if only to place a cap on liabilities.

Building a new round of nuclear power plants will lock this country into centralised and inflexible electricity generation, crowd out investment in renewable energy, microgeneration and CCS and undermine our efforts to promote energy saving. Nuclear generation will continue to produce toxic waste for which there are still no safe and acceptable solutions.

Placing pre-approval restrictions on the power of vehicles, to curb the tendency towards building fuel-inefficient vehicles.

5.1.11 Liberal Democrats would provide energy companies with incentives to make more money by selling less energy. We would reform the Energy Efficiency Commitment so that the amount of energy that energy companies could sell to residential housing gradually reduces from year to year.

We would allocate each company a total quantity of energy sales to residential customers depending on past sales and this would decline each year, allowing some flexibility in the event of major variations in climate conditions. If the energy company sold more than its allocation, it would have to buy that allocation from someone else. If it sold less, it could sell part of its own allocation for profit.

Personal Carbon Allowances
Proposals for personal carbon allowances involve using a national emissions cap and allocating emissions rights, as carbon credits, across the population as a whole. People would give up their credits when they bought electricity, gas or transport fuel. The allowances would be tradable: people who wanted to emit more could buy credits from those who emit less.

Such a proposal has a number of advantages. In conjunction with other measures they could guarantee a certain reduction in carbon emissions. At the same time, some important issues need to be resolved. For instance, such a scheme could exacerbate fuel poverty, at least until our proposals for energy efficiency had taken effect.

Liberal Democrats would examine the potential benefits of introducing a system of tradable personal carbon allowances, including the implications for carbon savings, fuel poverty, civil liberties and the public finances.

Here's the whole thing. 46 page PDF.
It's worth a read, some good ideas, some not so good.

Just a heads-up, I intend to be the Carbon King. The Emissions Emir.
Politics ain't about jibber-jabber;
it's about the power to make people do what you want.
Politics is not about the base, politics are base.

Here's some commentary from The Guardian.

Is a zero-carbon Britain possible?

It gets awfully chilly when someone steals your clothes. The Liberal Democrats, who have a long tradition of advocating bold environmental policies, have got used to being left shivering outside in recent times as both Labour and the Conservatives battle for the title "Greenest Party in Britain". But the fightback began in earnest this week, with Menzies Campbell announcing to the country that he and his party have a unique dream (for a mainstream political party, at least) of achieving a "zero-carbon Britain" by 2050.

What, you didn't notice? Yesterday's Guardian, for example, carried the news at the bottom of page eight (enveloped by an advert for cheap holidays abroad, no less), whereas it barely warranted a mention on the television news bulletins. It didn't help that the Conservatives were already wise to the Liberal Democrats' major policy announcement, because details had slipped out a week earlier. They were thus able to steal some of the Lib Dems' thunder by simultaneously releasing details of their own new greened-up transport policy....

Business Magazines: Falling Now, Failing, when? (Off-topic)

From Media Life:
The year-to-date numbers for business and financial magazines are not good; in fact, they’re downright troubling for a category that many once considered an indicator of the general health consumer magazines.

Through second quarter, the most recent numbers released by the Publishers Information Bureau, ad pages for the nine business magazines tracked by Media Life were off 10.3 percent from last year, from 6,231.83 pages to 5,591.93. What’s more, revenue was off 3.3 percent, from $601,050,786 to $580,978,255 (see chart below).

Only two magazines in the category are showing ad-page growth, Fast Company and Inc. Business Week is down 12.6 percent, Fortune is off 17.5 percent, and Business 2.0 has slumped 34.1 percent, leading to rumors of a shutdown.

The category could certainly use a jolt, which perhaps explains the huge amount of attention given to recent launch of Portfolio and its promising number of ad pages. Steve Greenberger, executive vice president and media director at SLG Advertising in Greenwich, Conn., talks to Media Life about what's ailing the category, why Inc. and Fast Company’s gains may be fleeting, and his early thoughts on Portfolio.

For the record Climateer Investing is now published using 100% recycled electrons.
HT: The Flack

Climate Comedy

No sign of U.S. carbon trading consensus

From Reuters:

It will be very difficult to reach agreement on a carbon market for the United States as there is no sign of consensus between regional schemes, the U.S. chief climate negotiator said on Wednesday.

"It's under active consideration in our Congress," Harlan Watson told a news conference during a 158-nation meeting of government experts in Vienna, when asked about the prospects for a national market linking up initiatives by some U.S. states.

"We are very far from consensus on a national program," he added. "It's certainly going to be very difficult to reach a consensus. I don't want to make a judgment about what Congress might do."

He also said that the United States had no plans to join in any global market for trading emissions of greenhouse gases as part of a fight against climate change.

"Right now, we do not see our participation in a global carbon market. It's unclear when and where and if there's going to a global carbon market," he said.

He noted the European Union emissions trading scheme and plans for trading in nations such as Australia and Canada.

"You are seeing difference among these schemes. So knitting these together in a global carbon market is going to take some time," he said.

Theosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

That line was George Monbiot quoted at "beyond zero emissions" in a presentation titled "George Monbiot calls for zero emissions by 2030."

Madame Blavatsky was not available for comment.

Here's the Monbiot interview.
I really, really hope he did say that.

Update: Ah hell. I just listened to the recording and think it's a transcription error (although it's hard to tell). I got such a kick out of "Theosophical transactions...". I don't think Wren or Pepys would have much liked the idea but Newton? Maybe.

Greens see red after EU keeps duty on light bulbs

THE European Commission is under fire from green campaigners and retailers for plans to extend duties on energy-efficient light bulbs from China.

The Chinese light bulbs have been subject to import duties since 2001, because the commission says the products are sold in EU markets for less than their true value.

Yesterday, EU commissioners met in Brussels and agreed to keep tariffs of 66 per cent in place, despite calls from green campaigners to bring down the price of energy-efficient light bulbs to encourage consumers to make greener choices.

...Environmental groups have slammed the decision as being inconsistent with the European Union's targets to improve energy efficiency and lead the world in tackling climate change.

Experts at the European office of the Wordwide Fund for Nature (WWF) estimate a faster take-up of energy-efficient light bulbs could save 23 million tonnes of carbon per year, the equivalent of 0.5 per cent of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions....MORE from The Scotsman

Here's the WWF's take on the Commissions decision:
EU keeps unfair market barriers on energy-saving lamps

Brussels, Belgium – Today the EU Commission proposed to continue anti-dumping duties on energy-saving lamps imported from China. WWF, the global conservation organisation, considers this proposal disappointing, unfair and seriously inconsistent with the ambitious EU targets to improve energy efficiency in Europe and to curb climate change.

“This is narrowly protectionist and sends a regressive message to developing country producers that they will be excluded from markets for cleaner products created by the higher environmental standards expected by European consumers”, says Eivind Hoff, WWF Trade and Investment Advisor. “This case shows a severe contradiction in EU policies: on the one hand, Europe has committed to an ambitious energy efficiency objective and on the other hand it continues to impose taxes on imports of green products such as the energy-efficient light bulbs from China”....

An inconvenient fact (Seeing the trees for the forests)

Despite the anti-forestry scare tactics of celebrity movies, trees are the most powerful concentrators of carbon on Earth Dr. Patrick Moore is a co-founder of Greenpeace and chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. in Vancouver.

...Here's a key piece of information DiCaprio, collaborator and long-time activist Tzeporah Berman and the leadership of my old organization Greenpeace are ignoring when it comes to forests and carbon: For British Columbians, living among the largest area of temperate rainforest in the world, managing our forests will be a key to reducing greenhouse gases.

As a lifelong environmentalist, I say trees can solve many of the world's sustainability challenges. Forestry is the most sustainable of all the primary industries that provide us with energy and materials. Rather than cutting fewer trees and using less wood, DiCaprio and Berman ought to promote the growth of more trees and the use of more wood.

Trees are the most powerful concentrators of carbon on Earth. Through photosynthesis, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their wood, which is nearly 50 per cent carbon by weight. Trees contain about 250 kilograms of carbon per cubic metre.

North Americans are the world's largest per-capita wood consumers and yet our forests cover approximately the same area of land as they did 100 years ago. According to the United Nations, our forests have expanded nearly 100 million acres over the past decade.

The relationship between trees and greenhouse gases is simple enough on the surface. Trees grow by taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, through photosynthesis, converting it into sugars. The sugars are then used as energy and materials to build cellulose and lignin, the main constituents of wood.

There is a misconception that cutting down an old tree will result in a net release of carbon. Yet wooden furniture made in the Elizabethan era still holds the carbon fixed hundreds of years ago.

Berman, a veteran of the forestry protest movement, should by now have learned that young forests outperform old growth in carbon sequestration.

Although old trees contain huge amounts of carbon, their rate of sequestration has slowed to a near halt. A young tree, although it contains little fixed carbon, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere at a much faster rate.

When a tree rots or burns, the carbon contained in the wood is released back to the atmosphere. Since combustion releases carbon, active forest management -- such as removing dead trees and clearing debris from the forest floor -- will be imperative in reducing the number and intensity of fires....MORE from Patrick Moore in the Vancouver Sun

Enough With the 'Raising Awareness' Garbage

Starbucks, Paramount Movie Effort Flops, but That's Just Swell!

Interesting piece -- in the Los Angeles Times of all places! -- about the latest venture between Starbucks and a movie studio. Paramount's summer release, "Arctic Tale," is performing miserably. How you mess up a movie about a cute little polar bear and a chubby little walrus is beyond me. Perhaps that cheesy preaching from Queen Latifah and the grrrl-power/boys-are-stupid vibe didn't help.

That's not the point. The point is "the film has grossed roughly $600,000 domestically since its release July 25."

And that's just fine with Ken Lombard, president of Starbucks Entertainment. "Our measurement of success was not the box office," Lombard said. "Our measurement of success was to do as much as we could to encourage discussion around the critical issue of today -- global warming."

I'm sure that's the sort of thing that Starbucks shareholders want to hear. "We don't measure success in stupid old dollars. We're more interested in conversation."...MORE from Ad Age

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Dark Horse in the Race to Power Hybrid Cars

Are ultracapacitors the key to making hybrids king of the auto market?

"The days of the large hybrid vehicle battery pack may be numbered"...

From Scientific American

Bear Market? Dump Your Wife

So say divorce lawyers.

But then, they would, wouldn't they (M. R-D)

From New York Magazine:

The shaky stock market and subprime disaster have some divorce attorneys advising their clients to pull out of marriages (now!) as a way to cut losses on future payouts.

“I was talking with one of my clients the other day, and I told him, ‘You don’t need to ride the market and your wife,’” says attorney Nancy Chemtob, who represents fashion plate Tory Burch, who filed for divorce from her venture-capitalist husband, Christopher Burch, last year.

Under the state’s divorce laws, all income earned (along with stocks, mutual funds, and real estate) can be deemed marital property by the courts, and each spouse is generally entitled to half. So Chemtob is telling many of her Wall Street clients that if they want divorces, and if they think their salaries and bonuses will be lower next year, why be forced by the courts to split less money?

Not everyone sees shorting your marriage now as such a wise move. Attorney Susan Bender says that “we have some pretty savvy judges in New York,” who know that some people file to beat the market.

The S&P/Case-Shiller® U.S. National Home Price Index Posts a Record Annual Decline in the 2nd Quarter of 2007

New York, August 28, 2007 – Data through June released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller® Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, shows continued negative annual returns in the U.S. National Home Price Index, the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite, as well as 15 of the 20 metro area indices.

3 page PDF from S&P/Case-Schiller

Grantham says the S&P 500 could lose 40% between late 2008

Jeremy Grantham, chairman of institutional money manager GMO LLC, sees the tug-of-war between bulls and bears continuing over the next year.

"I expect the market will fight against going down, and keep on fighting," said Grantham, who oversees the investment strategies of the Boston-based firm.

Grantham predicts the bears will gain the upper hand after next year's presidential election. "Corporate profits are up but margins are down," Grantham said. "If they continue to fall, the market can go down a lot."

How much? Grantham says the S&P 500 could lose 40% between late 2008 and the end of 2010....More from Marketwatch Aug. 12, 2007

GMO Home

Eco-Capitalists Save Mother Nature By Charging for Her Services

This past spring, David Brand went on a property-scouting trip to Malaysian Borneo. Deep in the rain forest, Brand — founder and director of a forestry investment business — met locals who just couldn't grasp what this Westerner was doing there. They were mystified he did not want to build an illegal logging mill. One of them put his arm around Brand's shoulder. "No one can see what we do here, my friend," he said. "We can cut it all down for you."

Brand sighed. He wasn't there to clear-cut the rain forest. In fact, soon after scoping out that land, he hopped on a plane to London where, in a matter of weeks, he raised $200 million to buy tracts of forest like the one in Borneo — and he's not going to raze those, either. They're investments. The return will come from deals with companies shopping for pollution offsets or with NGOs and governments that will pay to protect the planet's wild places — not because they're pretty, but because they perform a service.

The eco-capitalists are coming, and they aren't wielding Thoreauvian platitudes about the sanctity of nature. Their jargon is far less lyrical: ecological assets, environmental markets, ecosystem services, natural capital. For these guys, biofuels and long-lasting lightbulbs are fine but they're nothing more than a short-term play. The real money is in nascent markets indexed to the health of Mother Nature....MORE from Wired

HT: Economicobjectorvism

Putting CO2 to Good Use

A steady drumbeat of news articles proclaiming the dangers of global warming have focused public attention on the issue of carbon dioxide emissions as never before. It now seems likely that the U.S. will join Europe, Japan, and Canada in imposing a cap on the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The issue is beginning to draw a response from major energy companies, who are pursuing a number of small but potentially important pilot projects that aim to uncover the costs and technical feasibility of capturing carbon dioxide and locking it away where it won't trap more heat.

Statoil (STO), the oil giant that's 70% owned by the Norwegian government, operates at least four different projects that involve capturing the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released from its oil production and refining operations, and is still pursuing more....

From Standard & Poor's Equity Research via BusinessWeek

Vinod Khosla on Biofuel and Solar Investments

...Amid all the hype – and the hype, at this point, may be justified – it's fair to ask whether all clean-tech investments are created equal.

Some investors have strong views on this, including Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures and a long-time partner with venture capital titan Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (the firm that made early and successful bets on Google, and AOL).

Khosla more or less divides clean-technology investments into two camps: those that can make real but relatively small changes and those that can make huge changes to the world's environmental problems, most notably climate change.

"There's a difference between a good green investment and a climate solution," he told me last week in an interview. "I came into it from the point of view that asks what the large solutions are that actually matter to climate change.

"I love PV (solar photovoltaics), and we have investments in PV, but I don't think it will be relevant to climate change in the next 20 years."

...He calls conservation a "nice habit." He refers to hybrid cars as "great" but incremental. Biodiesel he considers "completely irrelevant." Solar PV is "sexy" but immaterial, partly because it's an intermittent source of energy, similar to wind. And while he sees an important role for new battery technologies, "to call that a climate change solution is an environmental hallucination.

"I think we should stop playing with toys," says the self-described pragmatist, who never hesitates to engage in online debates with environmentalists and idealists who believe solar rooftops and wind power can wean us off coal. "If you're not solving 50 per cent of the problem it's not material."...MORE from the Toronto Star

Wine into Biofuel: Reverse Transmutation-EU practices Backward Alchemy

The European Union has opened a tender to sell unwanted wine in four countries for use in making bioethanol, its Official Journal said on Tuesday.

The tender would offer roughly 693,376 hectoliters of wine alcohol stored in France, Greece, Italy and Spain. The deadline for bids was September 10, it said in its latest edition.

"A tendering procedure for the sale of wine alcohol for exclusive use as bioethanol in the fuel sector in the Community should be organized ... with a view to reducing Community stocks of wine alcohol and ensuring continuity of supplies," it said.

France, the world's largest wine producer, would offer 239,995 hectoliters of wine alcohol for distillation, while Italy and Spain would offer 200,000 hectoliters apiece. The balance of roughly 53,381 hectoliters will come from Greece.

France, Italy and Spain are the EU's largest winemakers by volume and receive generous amounts of cash from Brussels to distil some of their excess wine, both table and quality, into industrial alcohol or biofuel.

Later this year, EU farm ministers will discuss a European Commission proposal for a sweeping reform of EU wine policy that would abolish "crisis distillation" -- an emergency market tool used as a short-term measure to correct supply imbalances.

The Commission complains that the EU wine industry still depends too much on distillation to rid itself of unwanted "wine lakes" at the taxpayers' expense, saying a fundamental reform is needed to make EU wines more competitive.

From Reuters

James Grant on the Fed's Sub-prime Solution-Socialism for the Rich

I know Climateer Investing has gone off-topic more than usual the last few weeks. The reason, to paraphrase Chairman Mao's statement "The guerilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea" is that climate/energy investments swim in the larger sea of the markets.

Here's one of the sharpest credit analysts combining some climate history with economics "red in tooth and claw".*

...Significantly, such cycles have occurred in every institutional, monetary and regulatory setting. No need for a central bank or for the proliferation of hedge funds to foment a panic - there have been plenty of dislocations without any of the modern-day improvements.

Late in the 1880s, long before the institution of the Federal Reserve, Eastern savers and Western borrowers teamed up to inflate the value of cropland in America's Great Plains. Gimmicky mortgages and loose talk of a new era in rainfall beguiled the borrowers. High yields on Western mortgages enticed the lenders. But the climate of Kansas and Nebraska reverted to parched, and the drought-stricken debtors trudged back East or to the West Coast in wagons emblazoned, "In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted." To the creditors went the farms.

Full Op-Ed at the International Herald Tribune

*Fifty-sixth stanza of Tennyson's "In Memoriam":

Man her last work, who seem'd so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law -
Tho' nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed -

Farmers Almanac at odds with government over weather

An annual US publication with a track record for accurately predicting the weather found itself at odds Monday with the government weather service over what winter is going to be like in the United States.

The 191st edition of the US Farmers' Almanac, which goes on sale on Tuesday, predicts a colder than usual winter from Maine to normally warm Florida, in the eastern half of the United States, with excellent skiing conditions in the northeast.

The western half of the United States will enjoy mild conditions with near- to below-normal precipitation, the Almanac says.

"Overall, Mother Nature is showing no mercy to the east and being a little more forgiving in the west," the book, which calls itself a compendium of facts, predicts.

The National Weather Service's (NWS) forecast, meanwhile, had heart-warming words for Americans grappling with high fuel prices.

Much of the United States, including the east, will enjoy higher than normal temperatures this winter, with only the northwest left out of the above-normal trend, NWS meteorologist Edward O'Lenic told AFP....

AFP via TerraDaily

Starbucks movie promotions disappoint bean counters

Starbucks' efforts to market movies have had tepid results. Only $600,000 has poured into the box office for the current documentary 'Arctic Tale.'

The polar bears of "Arctic Tale" have gotten a chilly reception in movie theaters despite Starbucks Corp.'s serving up promotional materials in thousands of its stores.

The Paramount Classics documentary, co-financed by National Geographic Films, has failed to draw the crowds that flocked to other recent environmental movies such as Oscar-winners "March of the Penguins" and "An Inconvenient Truth."

Costing less than $5 million to produce, the film has grossed roughly $600,000 domestically since its release July 25.

Although the coffee giant has broadened its reach as a cultural tastemaker through music and book sales, "Arctic Tale" is another example of the green mermaid's golden touch failing to transfer to movies.... MORE from the Los Angeles Times

Monday, August 27, 2007

Private Equity Selling Debt-Laden Losers

Private equity firms, until recently the high flyers of finance, have had a tough summer.

Not only are they suddenly struggling to finance leveraged buyouts the market once welcomed but also the companies they've taken public have lately been bombing with investors.

Online travel company Orbitz Worldwide and recruitment company Dice Holdings are two of the summer's biggest duds, both down about 20 percent since being brought to market by private equity firms.

Of all the companies floating shares this year, three of the five worst performers were backed by private equity firms, according to Dealogic. Of the best performing companies, just one was backed by private equity....MORE from Red Herring

Underpriced at $100 Million

Five houses are vying to be the most expensive ever sold, market slump notwithstanding. Ben Casselman and Christina S.N. Lewis handicap the race.

It might seem foolish given the recent news from Wall Street, but a group of homeowners is holding firm on an ambitious goal -- to break the record for the most expensive home sale in American history.

The price to beat is $103 million.

Two years ago, at the peak of the real-estate boom, only a handful of homes in the U.S. had ever been listed for $75 million, let alone $100 million. Even the highest residential sale to date -- investor Ron Baron's $103 million purchase earlier this year of a 40-acre compound in East Hampton, N.Y. -- was never publicly listed. The deal was so secret that the brokers weren't named....

More (including a slideshow of the homes) at WSJ Online

Saudis set up force to guard oil plants

Saudi Arabia has begun setting up a 35,000-strong security force to protect its oil infrastructure from potential attacks.

The move underlines the kingdom’s growing concern about its oil installations after threats from al-Qaeda to attack facilities in the Gulf, as well as rising tensions between Iran and the US.

The force already numbers about 5,000 personnel, a Saudi adviser said on Sunday. They are being trained in the use of new surveillance equipment, countermeasures and crisis management under a programme managed by US defence group Lockheed Martin, according to the Middle East Economic Survey in Nicosia.

The recruits are learning about laser security and satellite imaging from Lockheed on behalf of the Sandia National Laboratories’ Defense Systems and Assessments Unit – a US government run unit in New Mexico, said MEES....

More from the Financial Times

Eco-house faces demolition for ‘negative impact on environment’

... The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority ruled that the dwelling would have a negative impact on dormice, bats and invertebrates. An ecologist’s report concluded that if permission were granted, the home would cause, “severe degradation of the National Park landscape”.

From the Times of London

Cold summer forces earliest French wine harvest on record

We've posted on wine and climate change (I was about to type Global Warming). Rather than linking the posts, if you would be so kind, use the blog search box for: wine. Here's the story from the Independent. Our best solution to date? Buy the 2005's soon, they're getting pricey.

The first bunches of grapes for the manufacture of champagne will be snipped in north-eastern France today - one of the earliest wine harvests ever recorded. Despite miserable weather across much of France in June, July and August - which will greatly reduce the amount of wine produced - the 2007 vendanges, or grape-picking, will be two to three weeks ahead of the normal timetable in most of the country.

The mild winter and the hot weather in April and May gave the grapes a flying start. The wet summer, which produced savage attacks of mildew in some vineyards, has not prevented an early harvest.

Even the reduction in yields - likely to be down 5 to 6 per cent on an average year - is good news, for producers. Vineyards growing the cheapest table wines, in huge surplus worldwide, have been worst affected by the mildew and the wet, cold summer....MORE

Nuclear Power for the Gulf States

Nuclear armed Louisiana? Non mon cher, the Persian Gulf.

...During the 102nd session of the ministerial council held in Riyadh in early March 2007, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdul-Rahman al-Attiya briefed GCC foreign ministers on his talks with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohammed el-Baradei. The brief proposed to implement a December 2006 GCC Supreme Council resolution for a joint Arab nuclear program to be implemented by the six member states.

The ministerial Council discussion, on the heels of declarations of intent last year by Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, focused on developing a joint GCC nuclear technology program for peaceful applications conforming to international regulations. The ministers concluded with a unified emphasis on the right of any country to possess nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. With combined foreign cash reserves larger than all of Asia and estimated at $3 trillion, GCC countries are investing in critical assets. Unlike the oil booms of the 1970s and 80s, the current boom marks a radical social, economic and physical infrastructure transformation providing a social safety net for a rapidly growing population....
From the Center for Advanced Defense Studies

From gulfnews, June 6:

US backing GCC nuclear plans - diplomat

Doha: The United States is supporting GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) plans to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and is ready to cooperate directly with countries in the region, a top US diplomat said here yesterday.

Gregory Schulte, US Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Vienna and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the US has no objections to the GCC plans and is ready to extend support directly and through the IAEA.

"The GCC has decided to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and we are very supportive of their initiative. There have been discussions between the GCC and Mohammad Al Baradei [director-general of IAEA]," he said here.

Well so much for this from Dec. '05:
GCC Calls for Nuclear-Free Middle East

I haven't heard anything more on this story:

Iran: Tehran Says It Is Working On Advanced Nuclear Fusion

...Why Fusion, Why Now?

"It is part of an effort both to demonstrate for domestic consumption their technological prowess and to build an image of a country that is far along in nuclear technology, so as to persuade the rest of the world that they cannot be rolled back to zero in terms of stopping their [uranium] enrichment program," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick says there is no technical link between fusion and uranium enrichment, adding that the link is political in that Iran is saying "look how far along we are."

So what about the military possibilities of fusion technology: is Iran perhaps seeking to bypass the enrichment row and instead take a fusion bomb route?

Fitzpatrick says that technologically it "just doesn't make sense."

"In theory it does, but [a fusion bomb] is so far advanced from a rudimentary initial bomb that I presume Iran intends as its first stage, that a fusion bomb is just not in the picture," he added.

The experts from within the nuclear milieu likewise say that making a hydrogen bomb would be five giant steps technically beyond making a fission bomb, and is therefore not presently an issue, insofar as Iran is estimated to be some years away from being capable of producing a fission atomic bomb.

Guinea seeking nuclear power

But of course. Would monsieur prefer an ABWR or perhaps a nice pebble bed with an option on a nuclear thermal rocket should you desire a speedy departure?

From IOL (Zaire):
Conakry - Guinea will start talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency on a nuclear energy programme after the discovery of uranium this month, becoming the latest African state seeking a nuclear solution to power shortages.

The poor West African nation announced at the start of August that Australian miner Murchison United had discovered commercially viable deposits of uranium at a jungle site at Firawa, some 600 kilometres (370 miles) east of the capital.

"To favour research and development in the area of alternative energy ... the government authorises the foreign affairs ministry ... to start talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency," government spokesperson Justin Morel Junior told state television late on Wednesday.

Cap-and-Trade for Water?

Is water the new carbon?
Four years ago, the Chicago Climate Exchange was created as a way for companies to buy “carbon credits” to offset their greenhouse gas emissions. The market broke new ground by providing industries with a way to reduce their total emissions — either directly or indirectly — at the lowest possible cost.

Today, carbon trading and is [sic] estimated to be a nearly $790 billion marketplace with individual, corporate and government participants. Now at least one member of the Chicago Climate Exchange sees a similar future in solving a more immediate environmental challenge: water pollution and shortages.

“When I got involved in carbon offset development, it became obvious that water was potentially a bigger market than even carbon,” says John Regan. Regan founded the Environmental Credit Corp., a carbon-credit supplier on the Chicago Climate Exchange; he is also the chairman of Biofinancial Corp., a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based family of hedge funds. “Carbon reduction is a relatively slow evolution,” Regan says. “It takes 25 to 50 years before you see the impact of what you do today. If you don’t solve the water impacts in five years, you’ll have a crisis on your hands.”
MORE from Sustainable Industries.

These trader types (mandate a market and we'll figure out how to trade it. Mandate+Market= non-sequiter at best) have nothing on the economist types at Division of Labor for pattern recognition:

August 21, 2007
Markets in Everything: Birth Permit Edition

A letter to the editor (scroll down) from this week's issue of The Economist:

SIR – You provided an interesting analysis of how specific market factors can indirectly influence population growth. However, your initial assumptions, of undistorted commodity markets and no environmental scarcity, led you to ignore a logical conclusion. The market needs to be directly harnessed towards the goal of stabilising population growth at a sustainable level. This could be achieved through a cap-and-trade system by issuing each adult with 1.05 of a birth permit (ie, 2.1 permits per couple to achieve the replacement fertility rate) and allowing such permits to be tradable.

Adam Drucker
Charles Darwin University
Darwin, Australia

Good grief, mate, this is one of the scariest notions I've seen in awhile. Would there be forced abortions for people not having a permit for a third child? Would people be thrown in jail for a third child if they didn't get permits?

BTW, while scrolling down you might have noticed Jeff Sachs attributing over-fishing and similar ills to overpopulation (hey, Jeff, ever heard of property rights, institutions, and the like?) and two Berkeley profs connecting nuclear weapons and terrorist cells to rapid population growth in Pakistan. In short, we see from all three letters exactly what Bryan Caplan calls the Malthusian zombie.

HT to MR for the markets in everything notion even though I shouldn't refer to such a coercive scheme as a market.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 07:15 PM in Economics

2006 Wind Installations Offset More Than 40 Million Tons of CO2

Environmental Valuation & Cost Benefit Analysis has been on a bit of a roll lately with climate change/energy news. Here's the latest tidbit he brings us:

The 15,200 megawatts of new wind turbines installed worldwide last year will generate enough clean electricity annually to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of 23 average-sized U.S. coal-fired power plants, according to a new Vital Signs Update from the Worldwatch Institute. The 43 million tons of carbon dioxide displaced in 2006 is equivalent to the emissions of 7,200 megawatts of coal-fired power plants, or nearly 8 million passenger cars.

Calculations are based on U.S. data: average capacity factor for new wind power capacity (34%, from American Wind Energy Association); average capacity factor for coal-fired power plants (72%, from North American Electric Reliability Corporation - NERC); average CO2 emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants (0.95 kg/kWh, from U.S. Energy Information Administration); and average coal-fired power plant capacity (318 megawatts, from NERC).

Global wind power capacity increased almost 26 percent in 2006, exceeding 74,200 megawatts by year’s end. Global investment in wind power was roughly $22 billion in 2006, and in Europe and North America, the power industry added more capacity in wind than it did in coal and nuclear combined. The global market for wind equipment has risen 74 percent in the past two years, leading to long backorders for wind turbine equipment in much of the world.... More at EV & C-BA

Update: I was just told that EV & C-BA may have their spam filter set a bit tight. If you want to follow the above link click on their bypass.

For perspective Duke Energy's base capacity is ~37,000 megawatts, so worldwide wind generating capacity is equal to two American utility companies.

Answering Bill Gross' Call For Executive Branch Intervention in Mortgage Markets

On Friday CI had this post:

Liquidity in Business and Markets

'Liquidity is expensive but illiquidity is much more so, because it destroys the very existence of a firm"
I don't remember if it was Johannes or Ernst, it was a long time ago that I read Manchester, quoting one of the Schroeder boys on the insolvency of Krupp. That line has stuck with me. Here's the book.
Bill Gross in his latest missive from PIMCO said:...

On Saturday Felix Salmon at's Market Movers had this rejoinder to Mr. Gross from Yves Smith:

We've noticed a new theme among economics writers: Extreme Measures.

Commentators have suddenly looked into the abyss, either of the depth of the US subprime/housing problem or the progressing credit crunch that has already caused a seize up in the money markets, and are proposing radical courses of action.

Our first sighting was Paul Krugman, who in a departure from his normally sound policy proposals, said the Federal government should rescue victims of the housing bubble via buying up mortgages at a discount and renegotiating terms with stressed borrowers (he did at least admit this would require a tremendous amount of lawyering and said he was open to other means to achieve this end).

This week, we heard a broadly similar proposal from Bill Gross, chief investment officer of fund manager Pimco, which makes him one of biggest bond buyers in the world. He's not afraid to take strong views; in one of his recent letters to investors, for example, he declared Moody's and Standard & Poors to have been duped by " the makeup, those six-inch hooker heels and a `tramp stamp,'" of wayward collateralized debt obligations, the complex instruments that have been distributed over the globe, many with subprime exposures....

The whole thing is worth reading.

Merrill breaks ground with coal mine financing

Mother Merrill getting dirt on her skirt.

The bank increases its involvement in the privately arranged deal for an Indonesian coal producer.

Merrill Lynch has put its own money to work alongside a couple of hedge funds in yet another highly structured equity deal, which will provide financing for an Indonesian coal mine at a time when global demand for this commodity continues to increase.

The $135 million transaction stands out not only because it was completed last week in the midst of one of the most volatile periods in Asian equity markets in recent years, but because it is a greenfield project that currently contains nothing more than the coal in the ground, a reserve report and a management team.

In an unusual move for an investment bank – especially in a deal it is structuring itself - Merrill Lynch has also entered into an exclusive multi-year offtake agreement to buy all the coal produced by the new mine in the initial years. This level of involvement is noticeable because it significantly increases Merrill’s exposure to the project, but makes sense when one takes into account that the US investment bank also owns commodity and energy trading firm Entergy-Koch, which is keen to get its hands on more physical coal....More from FinanceAsia