Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is imposing the first US rules on CO2. I thought I’d take a look at the EPA’s own estimates of cost and benefit of CO2 regulation, to see if the new rules make sense.
Figure 1. Danger, high costs ahead. Photo Source
There’s two numbers of interest – how much will it cost to reduce CO2 emissions, and how much will the decreased CO2 reduce the temperature?
First, the cost … truth is, no one knows. These things are hard to estimate. I took the EPA figures. They say that the new regulations will cost US$78 billion per year. Considering that’s only a tenth of the size of the recent “Stimulus”, that doesn’t seem like too much. Other analysts have put larger numbers on the cost, but I’ll take the EPA’s low estimate.
And how much will it reduce the temperature?
Again, no one knows … so I’ll take the EPA figures from the same source. They say
Based on the reanalysis the results for projected atmospheric CO2 concentrations are estimated to be reduced by an average of 2.9 ppm (previously 3.0 ppm), global mean temperature is estimated to be reduced by 0.006 to 0.0015 °C by 2100.
Whoa, be still my beating heart. I’ll take their average estimate, 0.00375°C (about four thousandths) of a degree cooling by 2100.
OK, now to run the numbers:
Total Cost = US$78 billion per year times 90 years = US$7 trillion dollars with a “t”, or about half a years GDP for the US.
Total Cooling = 0.00375° C in 90 years
That gets us to where we can make the final calculation …
US$7 trillion divided by 0.00375°C gives us … wait for it …
US$1,900 trillion dollars for each measly degree of cooling.
I’ve heard of air conditioners that were expensive to run, but that’s gotta take the cake, almost two quadrillion dollars running cost per degree of cooling …
The usual explanation is that this is because only the US is involved, and if the rest of the world got with the picture everything would be fine.
However, the cost per degree will not change based on the number of countries involved. It’s still almost two quadrillion ($1,900,000,000,000,000) bucks per degree. So that explanation won’t wash. And although the US economy might be able to take the hit, poorer countries like China and India won’t do well. Finally, those are EPA estimates, the cost may well be higher. Government estimates of the costs of their own programs are notoriously way below what they actually turn out costing.
In any case, my question is, given that the EPA says that cooling costs two quadrillion dollars per degree … how much cooling would you suggest we buy at that price?
Regards to all,
PS – How big is a trillion? Almost unimaginably big. We think a million dollars is big money, and it is. Suppose my family had started a business in the year zero, a couple thousand years ago. Suppose we ran the business like a government, and we lost a million dollars.
To make it more like a government, let’s make my losses a million dollars a day.
Suppose I lost a million dollars a day, every day for the last 2,011 years. Generation after generation of the family, call it three generations per century, reaching down sixty generations. And every one of them, for their entire lives, losing a million dollars a day.
If we had done that, lost a million dollars a day, every single day since Biblical times, not taking a single day off, we still wouldn’t have lost a trillion dollars. We wouldn’t even have reached three-quarters of a trillion dollars.