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The Carbon Crunch: How We're Getting Climate Change Wrong--and How to Fix It Hardcover – November 13, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300186592
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300186598
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #781,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

Helm's arguments are important—if you can get through them. Unfortunately, much of his book reads like it's written for European policy wonks. American readers looking for a sure footing into the complicated politics of global warming wll have difficulty trekking alongside Helm into the deeper weeds of EU climate policy. —Coral Davenport

Review

“Helm’s credentials couldn’t be more impressive…This intelligent though depressing tome should inform future debates.”—Publishers Weekly

(Publishers Weekly)

“An optimistically levelheaded book about actually dealing with global warming.”—Kirkus, starred review

(Kirkus)

“At such a critical moment in the climate change conversation, Dieter Helm’s new book…could not be more timely.”—America

(America)

“[The Carbon Crunch] serves as a velvet sledgehammer in the global conversation about climate change.—America

(America)

“A lucid, readable volume on a critical issue.”—Choice

(Choice)

Honorable Mention, General-Non-Fiction category at the 2013 Green Book Festival sponsored by JM Northern LLC
(Green Book Festival JM Northern Media LLC 2013-05-08)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Paul Dueweke on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A GOOD INTRODUCTION

I had high expectations for this book after reading most of the book. But as I got to the end, I decided I needed to scale back my expectations. Helm never really got out of the "Introduction to the Carbon Crunch" mode, though his "Introduction" is thoughtful.

HOW HELM HIT THE MARK

Helm is refreshingly critical of the cap-and-trade movement, though he never calls it that. He refers to the two ways of reducing CO2 pollution as: 1) carbon-consumption taxing (i.e., levying taxes on each product consumed based on how much carbon is consumed in the production of that product) and 2) CO2-production permitting (i.e., cap and trade). He maintains that the last twenty years of Europe's attempt at regulation of CO2 production (cap and trade) has been a dismal failure since it has simply led to exporting the carbon consumption to cheaper manufacturing countries like China. On p. 234 he says:
"Europe's carbon consumption continues to increase.... Lots of money has already been spent; much more spending has been committed to the cause; and all with no apparent impact on global emissions. ... In the hall of political mistakes, this must stand out as a pretty unique failure."

The reason for the failure is that while Europe has reduced CO2 pollution at home by reducing coal consumption in favor of natural gas, the pollution due to their consumption of artificially cheap global goods, especially from China where coal consumption has exploded, has more than offset any domestic savings.

Discussing these issues on p.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Edmund Kelly on November 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a valuable contribution to a small but growing movement that recognizes the failure of current energy policies and the need for an alternative that can succeed. Though not solely focused on a technology led energy policy, this new book by Dieter Helm, a respected professor of economics at Oxford University does embrace its tenets as part of a broader energy policy.

The author is committed to the urgent need to reduce CO2 but makes a damming case against the failure of current alternative energy technologies and the policies that promote them.

He favors a road-map that promotes a short term emphasis on natural gas to replace the current worldwide race for coal, along with R&D investment to develop a wide range of potentially better technologies for the future. He supports dropping all subsidies for energy deployment, both fossil and alternative energy and imposing a small but increasing carbon tax that includes border taxation to eliminate leakage. The initial tax level would be sufficient to favor natural gas over coal, and as carbon free energy alternatives become economically viable, the tax could be gradually raised to promote their acceptance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Snyder on February 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
An up and down book with a number of "issues"

Helm grossly overstates, by implication, proven plus probable natural gas reserves. It's by implication because although has plenty of graphs and stuff elsewhere, such things are curiously missing whenever he talks gas.

He appears to deliberately get Peak Oil wrong. He again implies that King Hubbert made no allowances for offshore oil, other tech-tough oil plays, etc. Wrong. At least shallowwater offshore, and the possibility of something like "tight" onshore eventually being developed, were part of his ideas. Beyond that, he mashes up the politically driving price spikes from the two 1970s oil embargos with Peak Oil-type price climbs of the past few years. And, on the famous Paul Ehrlich-Julian Simon bet, he, like many a conservative, ignores that Ehrlich broached a follow-up bet which Simon refused.

Helm does get right the fact that the current potential of many renewables is overstated. And that carbon taxes are needed.

But, you can read about that in other climate change books.

I found this one to be pretty high on the non-credibility list because of the Peak Oil and Peak Natural Gas issues, and how Helm played with lack of jazzy graphs on both.

Up until about halfway through, I was willing to give a fourth star. After that, no. Helm simply has too much intellectual dishonesty. I can't but call it anything else; he's informed enough he could have written differently.

Until I got near the end of the book, in fact, I was ready to two-star it, and I finally did. Anybody who favorably cites Ted Nordhaus and Daniel Yergin both isn't likely to be on my good side.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ariel Villalon Monsalve on November 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good critic to what has be made so far to tackling global warming. Author critics about the mainstream views about Kyoto Protocol and the role of Renewables. What I can summarize is that Renewables are not enough. Other options are needed and a big change on where the efforts are put to tackle climate change. A must-read for anyone interested in climate change and energy policy.
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