Social Cost Of Carbon–The Administration’s New Way To Justify Regulations

The Obama administration has instituted new criteria for supporting their climate change regulations. It is called the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC).   The eventual cost of an increase in atmospheric CO2 is calculated for each regulation. corncropUnknownThe calculation is based upon their model’s forecasts of temperature, sea level, storms, droughts, etc. All the bad things they believe will happen if the rise of atmospheric CO2 is not stopped. You can be certain that each regulation could prevent millions, perhaps billions, of dollars damage according to their SCC calculation.

The SCC calculations use several discount rates that most rational economist would say were not germane. SSC presumes that the next generations will not have more knowledge and money to adapt to what ever actually happens. For example at the turn of the last century, do you think the forecasters would have come up with airplanes, nuclear energy, penicillin, satellites, for several example of things that have made enormous changes? And the many people that would be lifted out of poverty and provided a much-improved life?

The SCC only calculates the damage to the globe due to atmospheric CO2, not any benefits that might results.   Fewer people die heat than from cold, for example. In The Week That Was: 2015-10-17 posting by Ken Haapala, he summarizes the work by Indur Goklany of the benefits of more CO2 in the atmosphere as follows:

Benefits of Carbon Dioxide: Indur Goklany has produced a brief report on the tremendous benefits of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, largely attributable to the human use of fossil fuels. The report was published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation with a foreword by Freeman Dyson, the noted theoretical physicist from Princeton.

Among his main conclusions Goklany finds:

  • “Empirical data confirms that the biosphere’s productivity has increased by about 14% since 1982, in large part as a result of rising carbon dioxide levels.
  • Thousands of scientific experiments indicate that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the air have contributed to increases in crop yields.
  • Satellite evidence confirms that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations have also resulted in greater productivity of wild terrestrial ecosystems in all vegetation types.
  • Increasing carbon dioxide concentrations have also increased the productivity of many marine ecosystems.
  • In recent decades, trends in climate-sensitive indicators of human and environmental wellbeing have improved and continue to do so despite claims that they would deteriorate because of global warming.
  • Compared with the benefits from carbon dioxide on crop and biosphere productivity, the adverse impacts of carbon dioxide – on the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, on sea level, vector-borne disease prevalence and human health have been too small to measure or have been swamped by other factors.
  • Models used to influence policy on climate change have overestimated the rate of warming, underestimated direct benefits of carbon dioxide, overestimated the harms from climate change and underestimated human capacity to adapt so as to capture the benefits while reducing the harms.
  • It is very likely that the impact of rising carbon dioxide concentrations is currently net beneficial for both humanity and the biosphere generally. These benefits are real, whereas the costs of warming are uncertain. Halting the increase in carbon dioxide concentrations abruptly would deprive people and the planet of the benefits of carbon dioxide much sooner than they would reduce any costs of warming”

Haapala sums up what is going on very well by saying the following:

As these and other reports show the benefits of carbon dioxide, scientists and economists in government entities, such as the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and other government-funded groups continue to labor over what they call the “Social Cost of Carbon.” It appears they have their marching orders: exaggerate costs; ignore benefits.

It is as if the US government entities are operating under a modified single-entry accounting system – only the costs, but not benefits. If any private organization reported only their expenses but not their revenues in tax filings, the organization would quickly be under government investigation, deservedly so. But apparently now, some government entities now think they are free to report only the costs of carbon dioxide without the benefits to the public.

Next posting will look at the tremendous benefit that increased atmospheric CO2 provides for the globe’s food production.



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