Frozen in Time
Nov 24, 2013
Social cost of carbon


Source:  Climate Etc. 
by Judith Curry

The debate on the social cost of carbon is heating up.


White House

The White House has recently issued a Technical Support Document on the Social Cost of Carbon [link.  Excerpts from the Executive Summary:

The purpose of the “social cost of carbon” (SCC) estimates presented here is to allow agencies to incorporate the social benefits of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into cost-benefit analyses of regulatory actions that impact cumulative global emissions. The SCC is an estimate of the monetized damages associated with an incremental increase in carbon emissions in a given year. It is intended to include (but is not limited to) changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, property damages from increased flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services due to climate change.

The SCC estimates using the updated versions of the models are higher than those reported in the 2010 TSD. By way of comparison, the four 2020 SCC estimates reported in the 2010 TSD were $7, $26, $42 and $81 (2007$). The corresponding four updated SCC estimates for 2020 are $12, $43, $65, and $129 (2007$). The model updates that are relevant to the SCC estimates include: an explicit representation of sea level rise damages in the DICE and PAGE models; updated adaptation assumptions, revisions to ensure damages are constrained by GDP, updated regional scaling of damages, and a revised treatment of potentially abrupt shifts in climate damages in the PAGE model; an updated carbon cycle in the DICE model; and updated damage functions for sea level rise impacts, the agricultural sector, and reduced space heating requirements, as well as changes to the transient response of temperature to the buildup of GHG concentrations and the inclusion of indirect effects of methane emissions in the FUND model.

The Hill

The controversy surrounding this issue is reported today in a post by The Hill.  Excerpts:

The White House will seek new public comment on the “social cost of carbon” (SCC), a metric that helps regulators estimate the benefits of rules that cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) decision arrives amid criticism from industry groups and Republicans who say the Obama administration’s May 2013 upward revision of the SCC earlier lacked public input.
The “social cost of carbon” has lately been a flashpoint in wider political and lobbying battles over White House’s climate change policy, especially planned Environmental Protection Agency carbon standards for power plants.
Howard Shelanski, the top White House regulatory official, said in a blog post late Friday afternoon that the administration was making new changes to the estimate, and would launch a public comment period “in response to public and stakeholder interest.”

Business groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, have been challenging the revised estimate on various fronts.

In addition, the GOP-led House recently passed a bill that would prevent the EPA from using the metric in major energy rules.

Background info

The Yale Forum on Climate Change has a good post SCC, Social Costs of Carbon: Continuing a little told story.  This article provides a lot of good background information. Another good background post is at CSIS.

Dr. Craig Idso

Opposing view points

The SPPI takes a different approach to this issue, looking at The Positive Externalities of CO2.  Excerpt:

It is clear from the material presented in this report that the modern rise in the air’s CO2 content is providing a tremendous economic benefit to global crop production.

The very real positive externality of inadvertent atmospheric CO2 enrichment must be considered in all studies examining the SCC; and its observationally-deduced effects must be given premier weighting over the speculative negative externalities presumed to occur in computer model projections of global warming. Until that time, little if any weight should be placed on current SCC calculations..

Another contrary view is provided by Media Matters WSJ Contradicts Experts on Social Cost of Carbon.  Punchline:

WSJ Editorial Suggests There Should Be No Social Cost Of Carbon. In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal criticized the Obama administration for raising the social cost of carbon, or the estimate of the damages caused by emitting a ton of carbon dioxide in one year, which is used by regulatory agencies to calculate the benefit of reducing carbon emissions.The Journal suggested that the social cost of carbon should be $0, approvingly citing the previous lack of a social cost for carbon, adding that “Congress has never legislated that there are social costs to carbon emissions” and claiming that assigning such as cost is an “inventio[n]” to “ri[g] the rule-making”:

JC comment:  The bottom line seems to be that SCC is being established as a surrogate for a National Carbon Tax.  My reaction to all this is that it seems like the uncertainty in SCC is colossal, I am not convinced that we should even have confidence in the sign of the SCC in light of the SPPI and WSJ analyses.  And the White House is presenting values of SCC with two significant figures?  Uncertain T. Monster is not pleased.  There has been no attempt to propagate uncertainty through the FUND, DICE and PAGE models, not to mention whatever front end assumptions about carbon and climate are being used as inputs.

And even if we did have confidence in the SCC numbers, the policies evolving around the SCC seem quite convoluted and who knows how they would even play out at achieving the larger policy objectives.

And finally, I return to the issues raised in the preceding post, 20 tips for interpreting scientific claims.  Some commenters seemed to think this was pretty much kindergarten stuff and of course policy makers (or their staffers) understand this stuff.  Well anyone taking seriously the White House’s SCC numbers needs to go back to kindergarten and pay attention to the 20 tips.

In light of the importance of SCC to U.S. climate/energy policy, it seems that much more attention needs to be paid to this issue.

Nov 19, 2013
United Nations climate conference tells business:  support us on climate change

By Steve Goreham

Originally published in The Washington Times


Business must lobby governments to fight climate change, according to the United Nations. On November 14th as part of the current Warsaw climate conference, the UN issued a new report titled, “Guide for Responsible Corporate Engagement in Climate Policy,” urging active business participation in the UN climate crusade. But is this the best course for business to serve customers and protect the environment?

Representatives from more than 190 nations are meeting in Poland, to lay the groundwork for a binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions by 2015. The tough issues include the size and timing of emissions cuts and contributions to the $100 billion climate fund, to be paid annually to developing nations in 2020. But negotiations are not going well.

China surpassed the United States in 2007 as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but does not want to rein in emissions. India has 300 million people without access to electricity and wants other nations to make cuts. Developing nations demand that industrialized nations make deep emissions cuts and large contributions to the $100 billion climate fund, for past emissions sins. Industrialized nations are reluctant to pursue further emissions reductions without participation from developing nations.

Since the failure at the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference, global climate negotiations have been adrift. The Kyoto Protocol expired at the end of 2012 without a follow-on emissions treaty. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and other organizations blame corporate influence as “a major stumbling block to progress on global climate change initiatives.”

The new UN report on corporate engagement will be highlighted in a special session of the conference on November 19. The report calls for companies to lobby governments to support a “global legal agreement on climate change.” Firms must push for a “carbon price throughout the global economy.” But last week, new Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott introduced a bill to repeal that nation’s hated carbon tax, a major setback for international efforts.

The report was produced for the UN by leading environmental groups, including the World Resources Institute, the Carbon Disclosure Project, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Ceres, and The Climate Group. All of these organizations receive major funding from companies who strive to be responsible corporate citizens.

For example, for many years Coca-Cola has funded the environmental efforts of the WWF. The company runs the “Arctic Home” promotional campaign, featuring a white Coca-Cola can with an image of a mother polar bear and her cubs, raising over $3 million to date for the WWF. Children all over our nation are breaking piggy banks to send money to save the bears.


In 2007, the US Geological Survey published a 30year detailed study of polar bear populations on the north coast of Alaska, using bear capture, tagging, and electronic collaring to track bear populations. The study concluded that, although ice had declined 30 percent in the region over the period, bear populations increased by 30 percent. So both the polar bears and the WWF are doing quite well. Icecap: We recommend boycotting the WWF fund chosen early on by the ‘movement’ because everyone loves animals to funnel funds to help sell the scam. If any corporations recommend a carbon tax we will undertake a boycott campaign against them.

To be good citizens, some companies are voluntarily buying electricity from expensive wind and solar sources. Shareholders accept this profit-reducing activity, believing this contributes to slowing man-made global warming. But according to the International Energy Agency, wind and solar supply less than one percent of global energy needs, and coal-fired energy is growing.

Last week, Japan announced that it was changing its national 2020 emissions target from a decrease to an increase from the year 1990.  Both Japan and Germany replaced nuclear plants with coal-fired plants in the wake of the Fukishima nuclear disaster, so emissions for both nations are growing.

In 2011 UPS began using biodiesel at major US shipping hubs. The company stated, “This project helps us reduce our dependence on fossil fuels with the added benefit that it will also reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.” But mounting evidence shows that business use of biodiesel is negative for both people and the environment.

A recent study by the International Food Policy Institute concludes that current biofuel policies do not reduce CO2 emissions. United Kingdom’s Chatham House points out that biofuel efforts increase “the level and volatility of food prices, with detrimental impacts on the food security of low-income food-importing countries.” Rain forests are being replaced in Malaysia and Indonesia with palm oil plantations for biofuel

Since climate change is dominated by natural, not man-made factors, there is no United Nations agreement that will have a measureable effect on Earth’s climate. There is no corporate policy that will have a measurable effect on icecap size, sea level rise, the frequency or intensity of hurricanes or storms, droughts, or floods. No UN policy, however broadly endorsed by nations and companies, will have a measurable effect on global temperatures.

For a real difference and not just a public relations difference, companies should direct efforts toward measures that solve real problems. Innovative products and services for humankind, reduction of real pollutants (not carbon dioxide), and support for efforts to bring electricity, clean water, sanitation, health care, and prosperity to developing nations should be corporate goals, rather than futile efforts to halt climate change.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism:  Mankind and Climate Change Mania.

Nov 14, 2013
Media Matters’ Billboard Campaign Calls On CNBC To Improve Its Climate Coverage

Media Matters (but the truth suffers)


As part of a campaign to pressure CNBC to improve its climate change coverage, mobile billboards are circulating the financial districts of New York City and Chicago on Thursday and Friday. However, rather than airing accurate information on how prominent business leaders use climate science to optimize their risk management strategies, CNBC has continued to air people denying climate change entirely.

The campaign by Media Matters, Forecast the Facts, and Environmental Action was hosted on fuel-efficient trucks to highlight Media Matters’ studies finding that the majority of CNBC’s relevant coverage casts doubt on the basic scientific consensus that climate change is real and manmade. So far, CNBC has not shown any signs of improvement—even after a 45,000-signature petition called on CNBC to improve its coverage.

Most recently, CNBC hosted Joe Bastardi, whose arguments for climate change denial have been called “utter nonsense,” “very odd” and “simply ignorant” by scientists, to discuss Super Typhoon Haiyan. When another meteorologist noted that rising sea levels have worsened the damage from storms such as Haiyan, Bastardi—who has claimed contrary to basic physics that carbon dioxide “literally cannot cause global warming”—predictably dismissed the greenhouse gas connection:

PAUL WALSH, WEATHER CHANNEL: I wouldn’t say that climate change is a direct contributor to these—that’s something that’s still being discussed. But one of the things that makes these storms, especially here for the U.S. and along the east coast, more potentially devastating is the fact that sea levels are rising and expected to continue to rise—and then even smaller storms could have a really, really big impact.

JOE BASTARDI: Well Paul, sea level rise in the Atlantic could be a product of the warm Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation. We’ll see what happens when we get out of that. I also want to say, when the Asian continent began cooling, the Pacific ramped up because there’s hyper-period at the end a lot of times in the Pacific when there’s been a lack of activity through the years.

Once again, scientists with expertise in the area handily rebutted Bastardi’s armchair climate science. When asked in an email from Media Matters whether Bastardi’s claim that the rise in sea level rise in the Atlantic was just natural is true, Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, responded:

No, global sea level rise is unequivocally related to extra energy coming into the Earth. Sea level cannot rise for no reason. It rises from expansion as the ocean warms and from adding water from melting land ice (glaciers, Greenland etc). Now regionally sea level can rise if it goes down somewhere else. Perhaps Bastardi is confused about that. So there are some places where sea level goes up more than the global mean and some where it is less, but the global mean is unequivocally associated with warming.

Princeton University Geosciences Professor Michael Oppenheimer added via email to Media Matters that “Natural variations can add or subtract from sea level rise but the long term trend is largely due to global warming.”

CNBC host Joe Kernen also rebuked a utility CEO for his efforts to protect consumers from for climate-related impacts earlier this month. Kernen suggested, contrary to preeminent insurance companies, that it is “not necessary” to prepare for the increases in certain weather extremes.

ICECAP NOTE: My friend Joe is right and the formerly distinguished (former because he sold his soul to the IPCC and extreme left AGW church of climate scientology) and ‘Dr’. Oppenhemier, formerly of the the Environmental Defense Fund are once again wrong. JB would run rings about both of these clowns in a debate with real data. The story spinner with MM also purposely misinterpreted what JB said. He never claimed that all the sea level rises are due to the AMO but only that the warming exaggerates the rises there like the Pacific PDO cooling has accelerated reductions of sea level near Alaska. AND sea level rise has slowed to 4 inches to 7 inches a century. These show that Trenberth’s theory the heat is playing ‘WHere’s Waldo’ by hiding in the deep oceans, as heat content increase would cause ocean expansion and increase rises rather than decrease them. See more on that here. Joe Kernan is a great reporter with a very impressive background (Kernen was vice-president at both EF Hutton and Smith Barney.  He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado in molecular, cellular and developmental biology as well as a master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his graduate studies, he worked at the MIT Center for Cancer Research, one of the world’s premier institutions. His work focused on mouse erythroleukemia cells and resulted in a series of publications in well-known scientific journals including CELL, Developmental Biology and Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology) and his assessment this is all political is exactly right and should continue to voice his opinion. Please send letters to CNBC in his support and comment to Media Matters about their cluelessness on climate and most other issues.


Government sponsored corrupt science at the Universities

The following is an email exchange among real ‘honest’ climate scientists from the Pacific Northwest addressing the issue of the corruption like that seen at UCSD and Scripps Oceanographic, once a great institution in the days of Jerome Namias:

October 2013, averaging -2.9 deg F below normal, was the 11th coldest October out of the past 119 years in Oregon. And Oregon’s coldest October was in 1919, followed by 1946, 1949, and 1912 with the warmest being 1988 followed by 1907, 1952, and 1901. 

Where is the correlation with CO2? The answer could not be more clear.

The correlation is wherever and whatever it needs to be in order to perpetuate the notion. It can be imagined, fabricated, supposed, presumed or even hiding but magically known to be. 

The notion of AGW must not die. For if it were to die the worst kind of mass extinction would quickly follow. The extinction of the corrupt climate calamity peddlers and charlatan pushers of government policy elixirs.

These purposefully mendacious meddlers view the bulk of humanity and society as inferior and in perpetual ailment that demands their limitless intervention and control.
So absolute and overwhelming is their instinct to dominate, that they cannot foresee any scenario of net detriment regardless of how horrifically wrong they are on anything.

Being wrong just does not matter at all, period. When THAT resides in one’s core evidence is always subordinate to desire. 


You have captured the essence of the climate controversy: corruption.  Science is supposed to be synonymous with objective truth, scientist with honesty.  Nothing seems further from reality today.  Too many scientists are trading on the past history of science where the Scientific Method led to great advancements in human knowledge.  Today we have a look-alike called ‘Simulated Science’ where large numbers of technically educated people churn out the mediocre to the nonsensical at the behest of an Establishment happy with predictable propaganda.  If it looks like science, it is good enough for them.  If a few courageous dissenters raise objections, It is easy to ignore them or point to authority and consensus.  The general public is unaware that authority and consensus have no place in science.

All it took was opening up the Federal Treasury.  Total honesty melted away in the face of cold cash.  And it did not take that much, as Oregon State University professor of climate alarm Phil Mote has pointed out.  Most team players are not getting wealthy, but many are able to secure prestigious jobs with ample salaries.  All they need do is go along, keep quiet about doubts, and never ask probing questions in public.  In return, they live happily ever after.  What could be more ideal, for them?

Now some are promoting a ‘carbon tax’ as official affirmation of a ‘climate crisis’ and as a source of the fuel that keeps it all going - cash.  Today’s Oregonian featured a call for such a tax from ‘scientists’ at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in California.  That institution has become a particular hotbed of climatism, where all have apparently sold their souls for a few more years of good luck.

Science is the one great hope of mankind.  Corrupt science is not.

Nov 10, 2013
Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, another overhyped storm that didn’t match early reports

ICECAP UPDATE: Note a big fan of the MSM in covering severe weather but 4 stars to Jason Samenow and Dennis Mersereau of the CWG on WAPO for these two apolitical stories” Why so many people died from Haiyan and past southeast Asia typhoons and Typhoon and hurricane storm surge disasters are unacceptable. Maybe now that Andrew Freeman has moved over to Climate Central, the other scientists can do more honest and balanced coverage.

Note the claim that storms are becoming more extreme is challenged by this graph of 35 typhoons with an atmospheric pressure of 895 mb or less, the figure measured for Yolanda.The chart below plots these by year.


Here is the sort of headlines we had Friday, for example this one from Huffington Post where they got all excited about some early reports from The Weather Company’s Andrew Freedman:

Super Typhoon Haiyan - which is one of the strongest storms in world history based on maximum windspeed - is about to plow through the Central Philippines, producing a potentially deadly storm surge and dumping heavy rainfall that could cause widespread flooding. As of Thursday afternoon Eastern time, Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Yolanda, had estimated maximum sustained winds of 195 mph with gusts above 220 mph, which puts the storm in extraordinarily rare territory.

UPDATE 5: from this NYT article:

Before the typhoon made landfall, some international forecasters were estimating wind speeds at 195 m.p.h., which would have meant the storm would hit with winds among the strongest recorded. But local forecasters later disputed those estimates. “Some of the reports of wind speeds were exaggerated,” Mr. Paciente said. The Philippine weather agency measured winds on the eastern edge of the country at about 150 m.p.h., he said, with some tracking stations recording speeds as low as 100 m.p.h.

Ah those wind speed estimates, they don’t always meet up with reality later - Anthony


By Paul Homewood

Sadly it appears that at least 1000 1200* lives have been lost in Typhoon Yolanda (or Haiyan), that has just hit the Philippines. There appear to have been many unsubstantiated claims about its size, though these now appear to start being replaced by accurate information.

Nevertheless the BBC are still reporting today

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall...The storm made landfall shortly before dawn on Friday, bringing gusts that reached 379km/h (235 mph).

Unfortunately we cannot always trust the BBC to give the facts these days, so let’s see what the Philippine Met Agency, PAGASA, have to say. Here are the surface wind reports:




So at landfall the sustained wind was 235 kmh or 147 mph, with gusts upto 275 kmh or 171 mph. This is 60 mph less than the BBC have quoted.

The maximum strength reached by the typhoon appears to have been around landfall, as the reported windspeeds three hours earlier were 225 kmh (140mph).

Terrible though this storm was, it only ranks as a Category 4 storm, and it is clear nonsense to suggest that it is “one of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall”.

Safir-Simpson Scale

Given the geography of the Pacific, most typhoons stay out at sea, or only hit land once they have weakened. But in total terms, the busiest typhoon season in recent decades was 1964, whilst the following year logged the highest number of super typhoons (which equate to Cat 3 +). Of the eleven super typhoons that year, eight were Category 5’s.


So far this year, before Yolanda there have been just three Category 5’s, none of which hit land at that strength.

Personally I don’t like to comment on events such as these until long after the dust has settled. Unfortunately though, somebody has to set the record if we cannot rely on the BBC and others to get the basic facts right.


In case anyone thinks I am overreacting, take a look at the Daily Mail headlines.


Just looking at it again, is it possible the MSM are confusing mph with kmh? It seems a coincidence that PAGASA report 235 kmh.


I have just registered a complaint at the Press Complaints Commission against the Mail article. If anyone spots similar articles elsewhere, and I will add them to my complaint.


I seem to have been right about the kmh/mph confusion!

I’ve just scanned down the Mail article and seen this.

Unless they think"gusts" are less than “winds”, it looks like someone has boobed.


UPDATE4: Kent Noonan writes in with this addition -

CNN has had several articles stating the same numbers for wind speed as BBC and Mail. I saw these numbers first last night at 10PM Pacific time.

Today’s story: “Powered by 195-mph winds and gusts up to 235 mph, it then struck near Tacloban and Dulag on the island of Leyte, flooding the coastal communities.”

If these ‘news’ agencies don’t issue a correction, we will be forever battling the new meme of “most powerful storm in world history”.

Look at today’s google search for “most powerful storm”

“All you need to know Typhoon Haiyan, world’s most powerful storm” by FP Staff Nov 8, 2013

Read more .

Then they go on to correctly state gusts to 170mph !!

UPDATE 6: (update 5 is at the head of the post)

BBC now reporting reduced wind speeds that would make it a Cat4 storm:

Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall, swept through six central Philippine islands on Friday. It brought sustained winds of 235km/h (147mph), with gusts of 275 km/h (170 mph), with waves as high as 15m (45ft), bringing up to 400mm (15.75 inches) of rain in places.

Source .  (h/t David S)


* Reports are varying wildly

The Red Cross in the Philippines says 1200 in this report .

But now Reuters is claiming and estimate of 10,000 based on a late night meeting of officials at the Governors Office .

About the same time as the Reuters 10K report, television News in the Philippines says the death toll is 151.

Early reports often vary widely, and it will be some time before accurate numbers are produced.

Our hearts and prayers go to the Philippine people. For those that wish to help, here is the website of the Philippine Red Cross

Nov 01, 2013
Global Warming Alarmists Are Overrun By The Facts

The global warming alarmists continue to go about their business - which is minding everyone else’s business - while their yarn keeps fraying. Their latest problem: a study that says nature, not man, drives climate.

Last week President Obama issued the executive order “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.”

It’s almost 3,000 words outlining a plan to help the country get through “prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures” and “more heavy downpours” as well as “an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification and sea-level rise.”

The order even insists that these dire conditions “are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the nation.”

Clearly the White House missed the news - isn’t that where Obama has learned about various scandals that have suffused his administration?  that there has been no warming since 1997.

What’s more, it’s also missed the news about a peer-reviewed paper that recently appeared in the journal Climate Dynamics. According to the science, the pause in warming that began as temperatures leveled off in the late 1990s could extend into the 2030s.

Paper authors Judith Curry, head of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Marcia Wyatt, from the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, found - no surprise here - that the United Nations climate models that predict a scorched Earth are not reliable.

“The growing divergence between climate model simulations and observations raises the prospect that climate models are inadequate in fundamental ways,” says Curry.
What Curry and Wyatt see, and which the models could not project, given the junk that was fed into them, is a natural cycle of warming and cooling.

The summary of the paper describes a “‘stadium-wave’ signal that propagates like the cheer at sporting events” that covers “the Northern Hemisphere through a network of ocean, ice, and atmospheric circulation regimes that self-organize into a collective tempo.”

This “wave periodically enhances or dampens the trend of long-term rising temperatures, which may explain the recent hiatus in rising global surface temperatures,” the summary said.

The paper also explains that “declining sea ice extent over the last decade is consistent with the stadium wave signal.”

What’s more, “the wave’s continued evolution portends a reversal of this trend of declining sea ice.”

And the role of man’s greenhouse-gas emissions on sea ice decline? Apparently it’s not so significant.

While Wyatt says “the stadium wave signal does not support or refute anthropogenic global warming,” Curry promises that “this paper will change the way you think about natural internal variability,” a factor that the alarmists tend to deny.

Curry also says the paper “provides a very different view from” a study featured last month by the New York Times whose lead author says that by 2047, give or take five years, “the coldest year in the future will be warmer than the hottest year in the past.”

We don’t expect the alarmists to look into this “very different view.” They’ve decided that humans are warming the planet by burning fossil fuels and any evidence to the contrary is dismissed.

But they can’t really believe anything else, can they? If they did, they would lose their justification for meddling in private affairs. And that, not the environment, is what the global warming scare is really all about.


Obamas ‘Social Cost of Carbon’ Is at Odds with Science
By Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger

article appeared on Investor’s Business Daily (Online) on October 28, 2013.

The Obama administration’s latest, greatest weapon to prosecute its war on global warming is something called the “social cost of carbon.” It is an instrument honed on ill-founded climate alarm and is readily blunted in the face of the best science.

The social cost of carbon is supposed to be a complete accounting of the market externalizes, both positive and negative, resulting from carbon dioxide emissions released by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, or natural gas.

“In its pursuit of a high social cost of carbon the administration is going further down a path that is divergent from the one paved by the very best science on the issue.” But as its name implies, the government’s accounting of the social cost of carbon focuses almost entirely on conjured “costs” while ignoring proven “benefits” of carbon dioxide emissions.

The administration has determined that each ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere today from human activities leads to a future cost to global society of about $40 (in today’s dollars).

This assigned $40 premium on carbon dioxide emissions proves to be a powerful sword that the administration has been wielding to slash the apparent costs of a flurry of proposed new rules and regulations aimed at reducing emissions.

Here’s how it works: any new proposed regulation viewed as reducing future carbon dioxide emissions gets a cost credit for each ton of reduced emissions equivalent to the value of the social cost of carbon. That credit is then used to offset the true costs.

In this way, all qualifying rules and regulations, including the EPA’s promised emissions limits on new and existing power plants, appear less costly - a critical asset, as costs are often the greatest barrier to approval.

Since the war on global warming is a high priority within the Obama administration, finding ways to make the social cost of carbon appear to be as high as possible is the ongoing objective.

Back in May, the administration increased its previous estimate by more than 50%, from $25 to $40, which means that all proposed carbon dioxide emissions cuts are now some 50% more valuable.

But that increase doesn’t jibe with science. In fact, in its pursuit of a high social cost of carbon the administration is going further down a path that is divergent from the one paved by the very best science on the issue.

For example, its new estimate completely ignores a large and growing body of scientific evidence that suggests that the Earth’s climate is much less sensitive to carbon dioxide emissions than the administration assumed.

This means that carbon dioxide emissions result in less global warming, less sea level rise, and less overall climate impact than previously thought.

In other words, the social “costs” that may result from human-caused climate change are substantially, some 33%, less than those in the administration’s calculation.

Another important point largely ignored by the current administration is that there are “benefits” in addition to the “costs” of carbon dioxide emissions.

One of the key benefits is enhanced global food production. Carbon dioxide is a fertilizer for plants, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means stronger, healthier, and more productive vegetation, including most crops - a fact established by literally thousands of scientific studies.

A new analysis by Dr. Craig Idso of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change estimates that over the last 50 years, the value of global food production has increased by $3.2 trillion as a result of our carbon dioxide emissions.

The handling of this large, significant and proven benefit from carbon dioxide is grossly deficient in the administration’s accounting of the social cost of carbon.

Had the new science on the Earth’s climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide, the science on carbon dioxide’s role as a plant fertilizer, and other critical issues not been largely ignored, the administration’s latest estimate of the social cost of carbon would have dropped to near zero, or perhaps actually become negative.

A proper accounting of the social cost of carbon would have sheathed the administration’s blade, or even turned it upon itself, as Congress and the American people would see the true cost of the regulations being imposed on them, and the president’s climate war effort would be eviscerated for lack of alarm.

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