Down in New Orleans, there’s a scam that hits the tourists.  The local comes up to them and says “I bet you five dollars I can tell you where you got your shoes.”  The tourist, knowing that he’s from New Jersey or Montana, understands that there’s no way the local can tell where he got his shoes.  He takes the bet.  “You got your shoes on Bourbon Street!”  The tourist pays off, with a rueful smile, and starts thinking of the stories he can tell to his buddies, or the pranks he can play in the office.  He knew there was a scam involved, but he thought he could get one over on the local.  But the local has had practice.

Our government, unfortunately, has had practice.  This little scam is called “cap and trade”.  The idea is that somebody, somewhere, has decided how much carbon we should produce.  This can be measured at the country level, where Mr. Obama wants to reduce the amount by 17 percent over the next ten years  (see here).  It can be measured at the state, city, company, or individual level.  The amount we “should” have is the cap, the limit imposed by that other person or organization.  The trade part comes in because we get to pay money to Somewheristan, since they produce less carbon than they “should”, and so can be a provider for our extra carbon usage.

You might be wondering why this is necessary.  Hold onto that thought, and read this from the New York Times:

John Reilly, associate director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, has conducted a detailed analysis of congressional plans. He says electricity bills could increase by more than 50 percent and a gallon of gas could jump by 26 cents by 2020, but those won’t be as onerous as they sound.

The latest proposal for the intricate cap-and-trade system for pollution credits involves auctioning off the right to pollute, with the proceeds being returned to consumers. That means consumers would pay more in monthly bills and then get checks back from utilities at the end of the year, which would encourage them to use less energy, Reilly said.

That end-of-the-year check, he maintained, would offset some of the higher electricity prices.

So our electric bill will jump by half.  The utility companies will hold our extra money, and then give some of it back to us at the end of the year?  Oh, that’s funny.  I wonder how much of the refund will be eaten up by administrative and regulatory fees?

If they’re serious about doing this silly thing, dump the refund back on to our bills as soon as it’s possible.  People, consumers, anybody – we don’t understand incentive on year-long cycles unless there’s deep interest.  We grow to understand the incentive of a healthy marriage, that pays back many times over.  We can understand the payoff if we decline a dollar now in favor of a hundred bucks in a year.  I really doubt that people will warm to the idea of a 50% increase in heating bills, and getting seventeen dollars back in a year.  I am not incented.

And if we get serious about this thing, we’ll demand to see simple explanations of why this cap-and-trade dealie is necessary, and demand proof that human-caused global warming is actually true.  One of the gems from the recently released programs and emails from the “global warming enthusiasts” (I have trouble calling them scientists) is this piece of code:

;
; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
;
yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,-0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
(…)
;
; APPLY ARTIFICIAL CORRECTION
;
yearlyadj=interpol(valadj,yrloc,x)
densall=densall+yearlyadj

Nope – doesn’t mean much to me, either.  But from the discussion here comes this picture (from the comment by NikFromNYC):

A straight line in, a big rise coming out.  BOOM!  Global warming!