There are social costs to carbon usage. Even the fossil fuels industry has grudgingly admitted this. So our democracy has deemed it fair and wise to roll out carbon taxes and cap-and-trades and formulate social damage guesstimates for carbon usage. Followed by a whole lot of obstruction and denial.
One method of determining carbon's cost/benefit shortfall is the federal government's Social Cost of Carbon index. The Obama Administration recently raised the SCC to $43 a ton, up 58% from the previous calculation.
Naturally, the carbon industry questions the math, the method, the motive and the suppositions underlying the new figure.
A Reuters story posted by Valerie Volcovici this afternoon dealt with industry reaction.
"This has all the characteristics of a stealth approach toward making a greenhouse gas rule more justifiable by exaggerating the social benefits," said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.
Yes, just how valuable to people is
continued life on earth, anyway? Or perhaps the coal industry is about to issue its own counterstudy proving you can
take it with you? Who the hell knows what their excuse is anymore?
Volcovici also reports:
Oil refiner Tesoro Corp. and coal company Peabody are among fossil-fuel based firms that have lobbied lawmakers and administration officials on the issue, according to second-quarter filings to the government... Stephen Brown, head of government affairs for Tesoro, said in an interview that companies and some industry groups may seek petitions to change the calculation, file direct legal challenges to the SCC or file an indirect legal challenge by suing the EPA for rules using 'unvetted' SCC figures.
Yes, let's sue. Love to see some judge rule that the SCC should be set ten times higher. Private enterprise would start churning out windmills before the ink dried on the ruling.
Here we have underlined once again the folly of assigning economic value to things of inestimable value. A sunset means more to you than to me, let's say, but you can't buy one off me, no matter how much you offer. Or maybe I'm wild about hummingbirds and you prefer stock options. Or I want to enjoy my grandchildren in my old age, while you want to count your money.
Can't we all just get along?
It is folly to even attempt to levy such "social cost" taxes, though it's slightly better than doing nothing. However, such a strategy produces the dangerous illusion that we are doing something effective. Such formulae are always going to be hopelessly inadequate — especially when we are talking about the End of the World, as we are here with climate change. You're not going to come close to setting a "correct" figure, people! The earth is priceless. I mean, call me crazy, but I don't think you can actually tax people enough to make up for the loss of a whole planet. And our civilization, screwed up as it is, must be worth something. Climate change roars onward; methane waits to be released from the Arctic un-permafrost. The seas are dying. And all because of fossil fuels and carbon loading; and you think you can put a price on the further destruction of the Earth? Really?
But Congress fiddles and the carbon industry denies. And the government pretends that it is doing something. So God is still in His Heaven. But I'll bet He's got His a/c set on High.
Here is exactly what is wrong with our system of total national commitment to seriously-under-regulated free market economics; we agree, going in, that a free transaction's value to willing buyers and sellers should be the ultimate test of freedom and of all that is holy — and if the world happens to come to an end because of all those accumulated transactions, well, that's just too bad. We'll call it an unintentional side effect and the survivors can start all over. I can just hear the blowback now: You damn bleeding hearts! It's only civilization!
If we have to place a dollar value on every ton of carbon produced for burning, what with the atmospheric CO2 level now screeching past 400ppm — when we know (repeat: we KNOW) even 350 ppm will cook the planet eventually — then I would say a figure between one million and forty-seven sesquillion dollars per ton of carbon would be about right, wouldn't you? I mean, I would lean toward toward the high end there, but then again I may be overvaluing breathing, and sunsets, and maple trees, and salmon, and coral reefs, and the oceans, and the atmosphere, and low humidity once in awhile and reading and Daily KOS, and a few million other rather pleasant reasons to remain alive and stay a thinking member of a still-functioning free society, even one powered by socialistic solar and wind farms.
Because, climate deniers, it is now a fact that the game is up and we are headed for Climate Armageddon. The climate cycle feedback loop is now officially too hot to touch. Barring more or less instant dramatic action by the leading world offender — that would be us — in a very few years there will BE no civilization to fuel. This climate change issue trumps all others. We have to stop burning fossil fuels, yesterday!
But still the fossil fuel industry delays and denies reality, because such a reality disagrees with the economic theory. These are the kind of people who can't see why Baltimore orioles and buttercups and five-year-olds and backyard gardens should stand in the way of gouging the earth to smitherteens for fun and profit.
We need to stop burning fossil fuels. We need alternative energy solutions. When do we need these solutions? YESTERDAY! YESTERDAY, I said!
$%@#^&%^%$! ^&%#$#@%&*&^% ^&&^%%#$##!