Computer-Aided Sophistry: My Power Point on the Social Cost of Carbon

by Marlo Lewis on June 23, 2015

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Today I participated in a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation titled “Social Cost of Carbon: A Controversial Tool for Misguided Policy.” Heritage Foundation economist David Kreutzer moderated the panel. He also introduced Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who spoke on climate science and policy for about 20 minutes before the panel began. Cato Institute scientist Patrick Michaels and Heritage Foundation economist Kevin Dayaratna also gave presentations as panelists.

To watch the entire event, click on http://www.heritage.org/events/2015/06/carbon

My Power Point presentation includes a lot of material I did not have time to cover. So I am posting it here.

My argument may summarized as follows:

  1. Social Cost of Carbon — the cumulative damage allegedly inflicted by an incremental ton of carbon dioxide emitted in a particular year — is an unknown quantity, discernible in neither meteorological nor economic data.
  2. The SCC is a product of speculative climatology combined with speculative economics. By fiddling with inputs in complex computer models, SCC analysts can get just about any result they desire.
  3. What EPA and climate campaigners desire are ever-bigger SCC values to justify ever-more costly anti-carbon taxes and regulations.
  4. However interesting as an academic exercise, when used to guide policy, SCC analysis is computer-aided sophistry. Its political function is to make renewable energy look like a bargain at any price and make fossil fuels look unaffordable no matter how cheap.
  5. Even if SCC analysis were an exact science, it would still be biased unless paired with rigorous assessment of the social benefits of carbon energy and the social costs of carbon mitigation. It never is.
  6. The economic and social costs of carbon mitigation in all likelihood greatly exceed the social costs of carbon.
  7. By promoting regulatory excess, pseudo-scientific groupthink, and noble cause corruption, SCC analysis has become a menace to society.

 

Frederick Colbourne June 24, 2015 at 1:30 am

You have stated it better than I did. I said: The CBAs and estimates of the social cost of carbon are not worth a row of beans, mainly because they ignore the benefits.

Frederick Colbourne June 24, 2015 at 1:30 am

The CBAs and estimates of the social cost of carbon are not worth a row of beans, mainly because they ignore the benefits.

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