The Latest Subsidisaster Paper

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

There’s a new study out in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences that’s being hyped by phys dot org under the headline

Fossil fuel companies get $62B a year in implicit subsidies, economist reports

Whenever I hear about “implicit subsidies”, “social costs”, or any accounting of “externalities”, my bad number detector starts ringing like crazy. The problem is that just about anything can qualify as an “implicit subsidy” or one of its equally vague cousins.

The study, paywalled of course, is called “The producer benefits of implicit fossil fuel subsidies in the United States”, by Matthew Kotchen.

So … just what qualifies as an “implicit subsidy” to the eeevil fossil fuel companies?

Like any good liberal, he starts with their favorite scare tactic, “climate change”. So let me digress for a moment about that.

For forty years or so, people have been warning us about what they call a “climate emergency”. The Oxford Dictionary defines “emergency”as “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” Since we’ve been breathlessly warned about this “emergency” for forty years with absolutely no sign of it happening, it’s hardly “unexpected”. And since we’ve seen neither “serious” nor “dangerous” results from this situation, at this point describing it as an emergency is a sick joke. And that’s just the start of why calling our current situation a “climate crisis” or “climate emergency” is just Chicken Little screaming that the sky is falling.

Here’s the current situation. Crop yields continue to rise.

There is no increase in the rate of sea-level rise. The number of extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, and droughts are unchanged and have been with us forever. Deaths from climate-related disasters are at an all-time low.

The additional CO2 has led to about a 10% increase in “greening”, the amount of new plant life covering the planet. The 300-year-long gradual warming has been generally good for humans, animals, and plants alike. Cold kills. Today, people from rich to poor are generally better fed, better clothed, better housed, and more insulated from the endless historically common vagaries of the weather than at any time in history … where’s the problem?

So I’m calling bullshi@t on the entire climate “emergency” nonsense. Where is the “emergency”? We’ve seen about a degree and a half of warming since 1800. I’ve asked over and over again for someone, anyone, to point out any catastrophic negative effects of that warming … crickets …

But I digress. Kotchen figures that the companies are getting a subsidy for each ton of CO2 emitted. The burning of fossil fuels emits about 37 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. So right there is a huge, totally invisible, and totally meaningless “implicit subsidy”. 

Now, I can’t figure out just how Kotchen calculated the amount of the “climate subsidy”. He says he’s using the Nordhaus estimate of the so-called “social cost of carbon”, which is $31 per ton of CO2 emitted. But that would make the “implicit subsidy” $1.15 trillion dollars, and his total is only a “mere” $62 billion. However, he’s an economist, so he’s covered up his work with thick layers of confusulation and bafflegab, like dividing the “implicit climate subsidy” into separate amounts for “foreign climate” and “domestic climate”, and I had neither the time nor the inclination to unravel the idea that “climate” has domestic and foreign versions. Suffice it to say that the majority of the “implicit subsidy” is imaginary climate costs.

So what else counts as an “implicit subsidy” on Kotchen’s planet? Well … pollution. People only very rarely have “pollution” listed on their death certificates, so economists have complex computer models to spit out numbers of “years of life lost” to pollution. Of course, much `like with climate models, no one knows if the numbers have any relationship to reality, and no two of them give the same answer. So I rather suspect that Kotchen just grabbed the biggest numbers and used them.

From there, however, it gets truly bizarre. The other three items that are treated as an “implicit subsidy” are the imputed costs of traffic congestion, automobile accidents, and road damage.

Seriously. Road damage.

My guess is, you never thought that when your local transportation authority used your tax money to fix potholes, it was an “implicit subsidy” to Exxon Mobil …

The logic seems to run like this. If we didn’t have fossil fuels, we wouldn’t have costs for pothole repair, car crashes, and traffic congestion … so all of the costs of those are an “implicity subsidy” to BP, Exxon, Total, and the other fossil fuel companies. Of course, without fossil fuels we wouldn’t have cars either … but somehow that doesn’t matter.

Now me, I simply can’t follow that logic. For example, if we didn’t have fossil fuels we also wouldn’t have costs for road, bridges and traffic lights … so why isn’t Kotchen counting the costs of those in the “implicit subsidy”? 

You could argue that he’s only looking at the cost of damages (potholes, crashes) and inconveniences (congested roads) caused by cars … but if that’s the case, what about the damages due to airplanes, trains, and ships? The good ship Ever Given has already caused tens of billions of dollars in costs due to the “congestion” at the Suez Canal … why is that kind of cost not counted? Plus there’s the fact that maritime transport already contributes to between 2% to 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Ships that have to go around Africa instead of going through the Suez Canal, and which are traveling faster to make up for lost time, means additional fuel consumption and emissions. But it isn’t the first time this kind of thing happened, and such previous ship, train, and airport costs and additional emissions are not counted. Runways and railroad lines have to be fixed just like roads, but those costs are not counted. Why? 

(I suppose I shouldn’t be giving Kotchen any ideas or he’ll soon be up to $124 billion in “implicit subsides” instead of his current $62 billion dollar claim …)

This points out my biggest problem with such “external costs”, “social costs”, “externalities”, and “implicit subsidies”—the people like Kotchen who are pulling these numbers out of their fundamental orifices can pick and choose anything that they want to include or exclude. 

And here’s the second-biggest problem for me—the underlying logic makes no sense. Look, they count car congestion and car accidents as an “implicit subsidy” to Exxon because it’s damage caused by the use of fossil fuel … 

But if that’s the case, shouldn’t we count the cost of the damage done by computers through computer online crime as an “implicit subsidy” to the computer manufacturers?

Or how about the electrocutions and the house fires caused by people having substandard electric house wiring? Are they an “implicit subsidy” to Pacific Gas and Electric, my local power utility? If the fossil fuel folks get charged with “implicit subsidies” for providing energy for cars, shouldn’t PG&E get charged with “implicit subsidies” for providing energy for houses?

Now, you could argue that the fixing of potholes is an “implicit subsidy” because it’s paid by taxes … but at the end of the day, the government has no money, so the cost always lands on some subset of the population, just like the costs of house fires, traffic congestion, and computer crime.

And finally, he goes on in great detail as to just which energy companies are getting what amount of subsidies … whereas in fact, they aren’t the ones burning the fossil fuels. If a man sells me a knife, isn’t what I do with that knife on me and not on the Gerber Knife Company? Whether I use it to carve up a Thanksgiving turkey or to carve up my neighbor is on me, not on the knife supplier. Similarly, if I buy some oil, whether I use it to make nylon for ski jackets or burn it to make electricity is on me, not on Exxon or BP … so why should the “implicit subsidies” be claimed to go to the oil companies? I want my implicit oil subsidy, and I want it now!

My conclusion? I see no logical reason that fixing potholes is an “implicit subsidy” to those terrible people whose only crime is supplying the energy that has lifted the world out of misery, sickness and poverty.

I am compelled to add, however, that the amount of bumwad that passes peer-review and is published in “scientific” journals these days is a crime against science …

Here, it was lovely and warm, so the good lady and I went to Occidental, our local “Census Designated Place”. It’s not a town, no town council, no mayor, so that’s what it’s called. As always I was bemused by the statue made by an amazing local sculptor named Patrick Amiot. It stands in the middle of Occidental as a tribute to the closest person we ever had to a mayor, a man everyone called “Ranger Rick”. Here he is, in his perennial San Francisco Giants hat.

Occidental is a wonderful place, a village from another time. Nearly a decade ago now, I wrote about Ranger Rick here.

Businesses in Occidental are starting to return to life, and if Governor Newsom ever gets up off his dead asterisk and ends the lockdown and mask lunacy, we’ll be good again. When the Governor of Texas did that 26 days ago, Joe Biden called it “Neanderthal thinking” and said it risked “thousands of more deaths” … but here’s how it has actually worked out.

Data Source:

You say that 26 days is not enough time for new deaths to show up? OK, here’s new cases …

Data Source:

As you can see, the lifting of the mask and lockdown mandates haven’t made the slightest bit of difference in Texas.

This is the first pandemic in history where we’ve quarantined the healthy instead of the sick, and it has been a total unqualified disaster. As I posted up a year and a week ago, End The American Lockdown Now. Our response to this pandemic has been totally insane.

And while that wonderful woman and I are waiting for sanity to return, we had tacos outdoors at the Mexican restaurant and enjoyed people-watching on a beautiful spring day.

Best of the sunshine to all, keep laughing or you’ll cry,


The Usual: When you comment, please quote the exact words you are discussing, so we can all be clear on what and who you are talking about.

4.8 32 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
March 28, 2021 10:13 am

When I was at school my English teacher called stuff like this “clotted tosh and curdled balderdash.” Mr. Kotchen would have been given a quiet but effective tongue lashing and he wouldn’t have dared to present anything like this again.

David 6
Reply to  Oldseadog
March 28, 2021 7:10 pm

Mr Kotchen needs to calculate the monetary value of plus 15 percent global crop production with zero additional land or water required.
( 280 ppm vs 410 ppm CO2)
And then all the taxes paid by ; fossil fuel company tax, fuel tax road taxes, workers personal taxes, etc, etc etc…

And if we magically dropped to 280 ppm, what is the cost of WWIII?

Last edited 1 year ago by David A
March 28, 2021 10:22 am

Where does Kotchen think money to fix potholes comes from? Taxes. Taxes on gasoline and diesel, taxes on car sales, car repair, auto parts, tolls, and the myriad of other non-transportation taxes. Those taxes are not a subsidy to the oil companies any more than your sewer bill is a subsidy to food producers.

Reply to  Meab
March 28, 2021 11:11 am

Here in the UK the duty on petrol is 57.95 p/l (about 75 cents). Once that has been added on, VAT is added on top at a rate of 20% (yes: the duty itself is taxed). A litre of fuel costing £1.30 is 80p tax and 50p fuel.

Fuel duty in the UK raises getting on for £30,000,000,000 per year. It’s 1% of the UK’s income.

And people have the gall to talk about fossil fuel subsidies.

Reply to  Jit
March 28, 2021 11:50 am

Addendum. Let’s talk about carbon taxes. What does this duty/VAT combo mean if you call it a carbon tax? Here’s my ballpark calculation.

Given: 80p per litre petrol is tax
Petrol mass 730 g/ litre (using decane as an illustrative species)
Carbon mass 616 g/ litre
CO2 emitted by complete combustion of 1 l = 616 * 44/12 = 2.26 kg/l
So it takes 442 litres of petrol to emit 1 tonne of CO2.
Carbon tax therefore is 442 * 80p = £354/tonne.

Reply to  Jit
March 28, 2021 12:04 pm


Don’t forget Car tax, which ranges from zero for electric cars (now that IS a subsidy) to 500£ or so . To US readers that is per YEAR!

Total revenue from vehicles therefore comes to more than £50 Billion of which £25 billion is not spent on motoring related matters but goes into the general taxation kitty.

Potholes round here are so large that we get herds of Elephants and Wildebeest come to drink from them . They are a charming sight as the Spring sun sinks and Twilight falls…


Reply to  tonyb
March 28, 2021 12:37 pm

In the UK we used to drive on the left of the road now we drive on what’s left of the road.

Last edited 1 year ago by Notanacademic
Reply to  tonyb
March 28, 2021 12:47 pm

Tony, for newish cars (registered after April 2017) the system has changed somewhat. This penalises smaller car owners because there is a flat annual rate of £150 no matter how efficient they are. All cars (except leccy) pay an initial chunk of vehicle excise duty when they drive off the forecourt, up to a couple of grand for bigger engines. There is a surcharge for expensive vehicles. A sort of ongoing VAT.

Reply to  tonyb
March 28, 2021 2:03 pm

Any crocks grabbing those wildebeest?

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  nickc
March 28, 2021 5:19 pm

Nye County, Nevada some years ago. Dry, so no animals. Did have a couple of potholes where I had to turn the headlights on – at midday.

Reply to  tonyb
March 28, 2021 11:30 pm

I’ve got a 2014 Fiesta 1.0 140 bhp. It’s nippy but I would have preferred a larger, non-turbo to a small turbo-charged engine.

My annual car tax is £0 the same as an EV

I think it’s wrong that any car, including mine, is taxed at £0 when we all use the same roads

Reply to  Redge
March 29, 2021 1:46 am

Car – 2014 Volvo V40 1.6 turbo weasel, big road footprint, 50-55 mpg (UK gallons), Road Fund Licence (tax) – £0.

Motorbike – 2006 Moto Guzzi Breva 750, tiny road footprint, 60mpg (UK), RFL – £90.


Reply to  KirriePete
March 29, 2021 2:55 am

This is exactly what I’m referring to – madness

March 28, 2021 10:24 am

A paywalled report with NO mention of AGW in the abstract. Also, no mention of 11-12 figures US, worth of past, present, and soon to be shirked, CONUS asset retirement obligations, accrued over the last century+. I’d settle for this report – the final reckoning is gonna be LOTS worse….

Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 12:04 pm

It’s worse than we thought 😉

Humanity is thriving

Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 12:30 pm

the final reckoning is gonna be LOTS worse….

No news there BOB.

Everything about the “climate emergency / crisis / extinction event is


Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 1:16 pm

Didn’t know your manic brain-washed ignorance and your deep hatred of human progress, COULD get any worse.

March 28, 2021 10:27 am

Oh, BTW, “seriously, road damage”. It’s “serious” enough that Texas degraded the status of many, many, roads used by oilfielders in the last decade, rather than make the crushers of them keep them up. More oilfield external costs incurred by them, but communized onto the rest of us…

Last edited 1 year ago by bigoilbob
Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 1:18 pm

Yet you accept the OVERWHELMINGLY MASSIVE BENEFITS of fossil fueled society.

What a HYPOCRITICAL cretin you really are

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Reply to  fred250
March 28, 2021 2:23 pm

Those “OVERWHELMINGLY MASSIVE BENEFITS”, unlike the externalized COSTS are paid for by those accruing them. You seem to make the socialist argument of ” We should let them do whatever they want because they BENEFIT us” only when THAT benefits your prejudgments.

Your Econ 101 filter is only working until “trickle up” is achieved…

Last edited 1 year ago by bigoilbob
David Kamakaris
Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 3:07 pm

Bob, there are carbon offsets available for people like you to assuage your profound guilt for benefitting from a fossil fuel based economy and lifestyle. Ask Lurch where he gets his.

Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 4:27 pm

Ok, moron, go and live in a society that doesn’t have THE MASSIVE BENEFITS OF FOSSIL FUELS

I dare you

Or remain , always, a whinging whining EMPTY-MINDED HYPOCRITE !!

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Reply to  fred250
March 28, 2021 7:18 pm

he won’t get the dole there

Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 4:32 pm


vs imagined superstition based problems.

Modern society COULD NOT EXIST without those FOSSIL FUELS.

But that’s what you are against, isn’t it, oily blob. !

You have a MANIC HATRED of everything to do with modern society.

Especially the people, you want to see them SUFFER, as you do.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  fred250
March 28, 2021 5:12 pm

You have a MANIC HATRED of everything to do with modern society.

Especially the people, you want to see them SUFFER, as you do.

I don’t think that’s true. He simply suffers from that worst of all social maladies, he’s lumbered with the plague of Liberal/progressive irrationality. He lives in an emotional world logical fallacies. I doubt that he expends much effort mulling over the incongruity of his statements.

Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 4:59 pm

externalized COSTS

What are those costs?

Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 6:30 pm

The FUEL AVAILABILITY BENEFIT far outweighs any perceived or imagined cost of coal or any other fossil fuel.

Why don’t you have the guts to admit to yourself…


Rory Forbes
Reply to  bigoilbob
March 28, 2021 2:16 pm

rather than make the crushers of them keep them up.

Maybe the “oilfielders” consider providing the fuel to run modern society is reason enough to expect the roads to be maintained … just like all the other citizens, who do far less.

Reply to  bigoilbob
March 29, 2021 4:58 am

Texas roads have historically been considered some of the best in the world. Why? Because of oil. Those trucks hauling oil, produced water and equipment also provide the asphalt used to pave and repair those same roads. The industry also builds access roads on private property that also benefit the surface owners. Your seething hatred for petroleum is sociopathic.

Reply to  Pflashgordon
March 29, 2021 5:40 am

Texas roads have historically been considered some of the best in the world.”

Which is why it is particularly egregious that both Guv’s Goodhair and Abbott let the played out frac boom run so many them into the ground. Their solution? Finish crushing them to crushed asphalt, then derate and rebrand them. Voila! One more 8-9 figure cost of doing business relieved from the E&P’s and communized on the rest of the Texans. Par for the course….

March 28, 2021 10:28 am

My local authorities reduced the implicit subsidies from repairing potholes long ago.

Reply to  Scissor
March 28, 2021 11:29 am

That’s because potholes are speedbumps in reverse. Since cars are evil, anything and everything that can impede them now is seen as the saviour of the earth.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Doonman
March 29, 2021 3:17 am

Since electric cars are much heavier than petrol cars, they cause much more damage to roads and increase the number of potholes. Does this mean that electric cars will have to be banned?

Len Werner
March 28, 2021 10:30 am

Isn’t there one hell of an ‘implicit subsidy’ accruing to windmills (and Concentrated Solar Power towers) by Kotchen’s paper? What is the cost per golden eagle these days? Syncrude paid $2,000 a duck, and ducks aren’t even a protected bird–they’re a game bird.

Kitchen should be a bit more careful of verbally and numerically speeding down a road littered with implicit potholes.

Len Werner
Reply to  Len Werner
March 28, 2021 10:31 am

Damn–‘Kotchen’. I wonder how many more times the site’s autocorrect will change that?

Reply to  Len Werner
March 28, 2021 11:04 am

Kitchen, $2,000 a duck,

Made expensive sense to me!

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
Reply to  fretslider
March 28, 2021 5:41 pm

Kitchen is just fine. $2000 a duck sounds like Kitchen’s sink.
It’s the last straw that breaks the camel’s back

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Len Werner
March 29, 2021 4:38 pm

It’s not the site’s autocorrect, it’s your browser’s.

Frank from NoVA
March 28, 2021 10:31 am


It goes with the territory that none of the benefits of fossil fuels, or any of the other anthropogenic inputs that benefit mankind, are taken into account. However, I consider it a major improvement in papers of this ilk that Kotchen at least does not consider the deduction of expenses like depreciation, maintenance, etc. from revenue as a subsidy.

Btw, when you referred to Occidental as a “Census Designated Place”, I couldn’t help but think of Mary and Joseph being forced to head over to Bethlehem every 10 years or so.

Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 28, 2021 4:48 pm

I’m sure he considers them explicit subsidies

Joseph Zorzin
March 28, 2021 10:31 am

Almost everything is subsidized. What are labor unions other than subsidies to the members? Look close at almost every industry and profession and some trades and you’ll find subsidies of one sort or another. Then there’s the military industrial complex, the green energy industrical complex, the pharmaceutical/medical industrial complex- all getting more than they deserve. At least the energy enterprises are all very competitive- perhaps the least subsidized of all.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
March 28, 2021 11:24 am

Almost everything is subsidized. 
Indeed. British pensioners on their meagre pensions subsidise American wood-chip business through their electricity bills, while they have to go to soup kitchens and the free meal centres in order to survive.
One of the greatest injustices imposed on anyone in name of saving planet from so called climate change apocalypse.

Last edited 1 year ago by vuk
Abolition Man
Reply to  Vuk
March 28, 2021 1:07 pm

Global poverty has been falling for decades thanks to fossil fuels and the much-battered capitalist system! GangGreen has learned how to reverse that trend in a few short years and now they are ready to really make it hurt!
Climastrologists, like most Marxist based religions, hate poor and working people the most; useful idiots for votes to gain power, they are then relegated to gulags and re-education camps or worse!

Reply to  Abolition Man
March 28, 2021 2:34 pm

Abolition Man, please use “Free Enterprise System”, capitalism is a slur.

Reply to  Drake
March 28, 2021 4:53 pm

Capitalism, properly used is the way capital is raised for projects.
Since there are very few, if any, enterprises where unequal preferences are not given, by law or regulation, to some favored few, there is precious little free enterprise in this country, or just about anywhere else.

Richard (the cynical one)
March 28, 2021 10:35 am

If ‘implicit benefits’ were also factored in as generously, just to be fair and even handed, the accounts would be significantly in the other side of the ledger, but scaremongers can’t have that. Not no never. What’s to scare the mindless herd with in the truth?

March 28, 2021 10:54 am

Seriously. Road damage.

Funnily enough, I noticed by chance that most, if not all, EVs are about 400kgs heavier than their petrol version. It’s the batteries, you see.

Now, that extra weight will undoubtedly cause some serious road damage. Right?

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
March 28, 2021 10:59 am

Speaking as an ancient economist, let’s all keep in mind that economists were only invented to make weather forecasters look good.

Reply to  Mr.
March 28, 2021 11:35 am

I was told that economists were just like accountants, except without the all of the personality.

Reply to  George Daddis
March 28, 2021 1:01 pm

Yep, and an extrovert economist is one who stares at other people’s shoes when talking to them, rather than his own.

Adam Gallon
March 28, 2021 11:04 am

Check how Brazil’s going, then come back & tell us that lockdowns aren’t the way to go.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 28, 2021 1:05 pm

I remember about a year ago that a couple of Germans were crowing about how superior their medical system was compared to the US. Where are they now to explain your graph?

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 29, 2021 6:37 am

That was laughable to claim.
Just compare Turkey with Germany and you see how superior the German health sytem is – not.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 28, 2021 3:51 pm

The primary transmission path is in environments with a greenhouse effect. Well, that, and “fat is beautiful” is a comorbidity. How does the German girth compare?

Last edited 1 year ago by n.n
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 29, 2021 6:35 am

Same situation in mid March 2020, first shut-down, and the numbers increased.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 28, 2021 1:16 pm

link wont open

Abolition Man
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
March 28, 2021 8:07 pm

We missed the opportunity to squash the ChiCom virus early on! By prohibiting the use of inexpensive drugs like ivermectin and HCQ, tens of thousands of lives were unnecessarily lost; while the lock downs slowed the inevitable progress to community immunity and more than decimated small businesses and the economy!

Every decision made by most our noble lords and ladies seems to have been to gather more power while simultaneously hurting the peasants as much as possible; particularly the weak and elderly! This last year should be a case study in how NOT to respond to a potential pandemic!

Reply to  Adam Gallon
March 28, 2021 11:51 am

In terms of excess mortality, not as badly as Spain, which has had a severe lockdown.

Reply to  Graemethecat
March 28, 2021 1:45 pm

“No one expects the Spanish incarceration”

Reply to  Adam Gallon
March 28, 2021 12:44 pm

“The Talk” only Dad could give:

Reply to  Adam Gallon
March 28, 2021 12:47 pm

Lockdowns aren’t the way to go. The southern hemisphere is into fall, expect cases to rise there as they did here in spite of all the measures to promote virtue signalling. Try reading one of the several papers that look at real causes of the variation in death rate such as the proportion of people who are highly vulnerable to covid as, for example, a result of low influenza mortality in recent years.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
March 28, 2021 1:34 pm

And Peru has one of the most severe of lockdowns and leads South America in death rates.

Edgar Hope-Simpson described seasonal progression of influenza like diseases a long time ago. Brazil seems to be following the expected pattern.

Overall, there are multiple factors including demographics, seasonal climate (temperature, humitity, sunshine hours), etc. As many point out, lockdowns are counter productive.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Scissor
March 28, 2021 8:09 pm

Isn’t it amazing how Hope-Simpson has been completely forgotten or ignored!?

Chris Nisbet
March 28, 2021 11:05 am

Willis’ neighbour is suddenly very nervous after reading this post.

March 28, 2021 11:16 am

be sure to factor in a quazillion dollars for preventing the next twenty glaciations

as the IPCC is pretty adamant that happened

you think sea level rise is expensive?


ice sheets are more or less completely uninhabitable

oh yes and good luck with agriculture in the dusty, low-CO2 air that can’t support most food crops

Last edited 1 year ago by TallDave
Curious George
March 28, 2021 11:17 am

Isn’t it always that way with Climate Changers? I wanted to check the “computation” of the Social Cost of Carbon. I expected something like .. carbon did cost us so-and-so much in 2010, then in 2011, then in 2012 etc. and extrapolate these costs. That’s not how they work. They pull their numbers of clean air … pardon, dirty air – you know, carbon (the word “dioxide” is not in their vocabulary) is a pollutant, therefore it harms us, especially by causing record crop yields.

H. D. Hoese
March 28, 2021 11:39 am

“Without fossil fuels we will starve.” Close to exact quote that someone told me, who closely with others, was studying the situation circa 35+years ago. He was not in a subsidized or fossil fuel organization.

Al Miller
March 28, 2021 11:39 am

I studied economics and I concur that it’s BC. They all guess at something, then whoever is “correct” is a hero for a while.
This study, stretches even the poor credibility of academic econmists – you know the ones who don’t do anything useful so they teach.

March 28, 2021 11:56 am

Regarding Kotchen, it is really quite simple Willis, To people like Him, all income, however and wherever derived, is Government income and whatever we or any company or any nongovernment organization is allowed to keep is a subsidy. You could call it communism but why use one word when many words give the appearance of great intelligence.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  DHR
March 28, 2021 12:30 pm

I actually wrote a longer ‘legalized’ equivalent to your observation as an answer to a final exam question in constitutional law at HLS many moons ago. Got an A because the reasoning was impeccable even tho it really pissed Professor Larry Tribe off. This was back in the era of critical legal studies.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  DHR
March 28, 2021 1:47 pm

Yes, Barack Obama summed up the communist position perfectly when he declared, “You didn’t build that!”, referring to private citizens building up their private business.

Obama, and the Left think a private person could not do that on their own without help from the State. So, therefore, the private citizen owes the government for whatever they have and should be happy to fork over a substantial portion of their profits to the government that made it all possible.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 28, 2021 2:51 pm

Well, Barack was a communist community organizer in his salad days.

Ron Long
March 28, 2021 12:14 pm

So Mr. Kotchen thinks that the most feared aspect of CAGW, sea level change, should be apportioned out differently (domestic and foreign) based on the perceived pollution of carbon index? How does that work out? Mr. Kotchen can suspend laws of Physics? Since President Biden (add other adjectives as you wish) has declared Climate Change to be an “Existential Threat” we can expect a plague of Mr. Kotchens foisted on us.

Joao Martins
March 28, 2021 12:21 pm

Williis, please! Stop using climate disasters or climate catastrophes!

Use instead weather disasters, weather catastrophes.

Floods, storms, tornados, are weather events, not climate events!

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Joao Martins
March 29, 2021 4:47 pm

I agree, but I think he’s just trying to use the enemy’s words against them.

Clyde Spencer
March 28, 2021 12:23 pm

eeevil fossil fuel companies

I’m reminded of the notorious agricultural pest — Bull eeevil

Last edited 1 year ago by Clyde Spencer
Abolition Man
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 28, 2021 1:12 pm

Is that the lesser of two weevils?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Abolition Man
March 29, 2021 4:48 pm

That’s unbullweevable.

Clyde Spencer
March 28, 2021 12:40 pm

If we didn’t have fossil fuels, we wouldn’t have costs for pothole repair, car crashes, and traffic congestion … so all of the costs of those are an “implicity subsidy” to BP, Exxon, Total, and the other fossil fuel companies.

I’m reminded of gun control advocates who complain about the number of gun deaths, and propose solutions that basically try to eliminate guns. They behave as though if they were successful eliminating guns that there would no longer be any premature deaths whatsoever. They ignore the fact that countries like Japan, which have virtually eliminated private ownership of guns has long had suicide rates higher than the US. They ignore the fact that lethal substitutes for guns are easily obtained. In fact, the per capita rate of deaths in the US from knives is several times greater than the total per capita rate of homicides in the UK from all causes. That is, there are inherent cultural and demographic differences that result in differences in violence.

When a study only looks at one side of the story, and only sees negative consequences, it is a pretty good indication that they are not being objective because they have an agenda driven by their emotions.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 28, 2021 1:33 pm

But Clyde guns a scary 😧

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Derg
March 28, 2021 8:50 pm

Yes, and the ones who often are most scared of guns are those who frequently have bodyguards — who can kill protesters, apparently with impunity. When a municipal policeman kills someone, they are placed on administrative leave and the killing is investigated. I have heard nothing in the MSM about the consequences of killing the young woman in the capitol building.

March 28, 2021 12:47 pm

Won’t potholes still need to be repaired if EVs replace the ICE?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Kevin
March 28, 2021 1:10 pm

The electric tanks that have tracks instead of wheels won’t be bothered by the potholes.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Kevin
March 28, 2021 1:57 pm

Our new U.S. Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigege, thinks he has a solution to fixing the roads whether ICE cars or EV’s are involved.

Pete thinks a good idea would be to impose a mileage tax on every vehicle that travels the roads.

Of course, this would be the absolute worst possible thing the government can do to the economy and to poor people. If you want to cause the price of *everything* to go higher, then impose a tax like this on the drivers of the U.S.

Everything has to be transported. If you raise the costs of that transportation, then you raise the cost of everything.

I personally, don’t think a mileage tax has a chance of lasting longer than when the new Congress elected in 2022 convenes.

The Democrats may be able to force such a law through Congress for now, but it won’t stay that way long, and they will alienate millions of Americans in the process.

Biden asks: “Will there be a Republican Party at the next election?”

I ask: “Will there be a Democrat Party after they try to impose a mileage tax on the American people?”.

Americans will not like this one bit. Get out the Yellow Vests.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom Abbott
Jim Gorman
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 29, 2021 6:29 pm

The problem is that no existing taxes will go down. IOW, the new mileage WON’T REPLACE any existing tax. It will simply be new revenue. You burn gas or diesel, believe me, the current taxes on them won’t decrease, in fact they’ll probably go up further. Carbon you know.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 30, 2021 10:45 am

Update: Pete, and the Biden administration are now running away from Pete’s suggestion that a mileage tax be imposed. They say this is not going to happen.

That’s how unpopular a mileage tax is in the United States. So unpopular, even the Biden administration won’t mpose it.

Abolition Man
March 28, 2021 12:57 pm

Willis, my friend, you are way off the mark here!
Kotchen is subconsciously saying that ALL modern conveniences and technologies are part of the subsidies to Big Oil! Everything from the clothes we wear to our Stupid Phones are less expensive and more widely available due to our reliance on evil fossil fuels! Just the fact that we live in modern societies makes us evil and thus to be taxed with sin indulgences!
On a side note, I saw that the Defense Department has two bidders working on portable nuclear power plants; minimum 2 Mw, I believe, and that can be packed up and moved in two weeks or less! If this is successful maybe we can start saving fossil fuels for important things, like plastic nappies for world leaders who are no longer sentient!
Free California! Open the schools and close the border!

Paul C
Reply to  Abolition Man
March 28, 2021 6:17 pm

The UK has supposedly looked SMR (Small Modular Reactors) too. Not portable, but a SMR is in the power range of ships, so portable/ship power could be an option. Some other possibilities with SMR are using the steam for industrial processes, or district heating. Think the projects may have stalled though.

March 28, 2021 12:59 pm

“The producer benefits of implicit fossil fuel subsidies in the United States”

Kotch is a “producer” himself…with a very clause of benefits there.
Kotch does not work or produce for free… rather gets handsome benefits.
In the line of the same production Kotch is not alone…
rather he is one among many many…
part of the most of Academia today… “Scientific”, religious and even political academia.

With a very large CO2 footprint of them “works”.

In the proposition of this large army of idiots being wrong,
their CO2 large unnecessarily foot print is not justified.

Can humanity still afford such unnecessarily large CO2 footprint!?

Yes in did it can, no bigy problem there if this crazy “production” of such
heartless “producers” does not effect or impact the main “blood” line of the
civilization and it’s evolution;
the infrastructure, the energy sector and the proper work force-production… with crazy things like carbon tax, GND plans, great economical reset…
or further escalation
in the windmill, solar panels and any other silly renewables energizing claptrap techno-silliness…
which only exist as means of a reap off,
and a further centralized domination-control over
the main global social civic structure, by any means, from the most hot crazy heads.

The larger ever unjustifiable CO2 footprint, produced by this huge antiscience academic plus cabal.

In old times this would have count as indisputable sorcery…
a highly unacceptable deception from those trusted with some power over others in proposition of their learning and knowledge…
A treason clause, of the worst… in the proper human social civic arena.


Jon R
March 28, 2021 1:02 pm

Democrats are the party of death, their policies are already responsible for the depletion of millions of human life years from the planet and are scaling up such policies dramatically.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Jon R
March 28, 2021 1:56 pm

How can you say that, Jon?
The DemoKKKrats would NEVER lock infected Covid patients in nursing homes with the most susceptible; just as they would never politicize a serious viral epidemic by banning possible treatments and locking down the young and healthy! Only the evil Repubicans would stoop to that level! Just look at how well the governors of NY, NJ, CA and Michigan handled their states!

If someone was trying to design a virus to cripple the US economy and our urban centers, they couldn’t have come up with a much better plan! I’m just glad that this occurred now before the gain-of-function experiments that Fauxi help finance came up with something really deadly!

March 28, 2021 1:12 pm

Some nincompoop climate liar website listed the subsidies to oil companies made by the Canadian government. It contained all the fuel cost for the Canadian military, and diesel fuel for northern communities, and fuel for civil service vehicles. It was pointed out that most people involved would consider these to be necessary expenses, not subsidies. Foregone taxes that the authors thought should be 50% but aren’t, made up another section of their “report”.

To bed B
March 28, 2021 1:22 pm

Australia has 42.3 c per litre excise on fuel plus other taxes. That is about US$1.30 a gallon. This is for fixing up potholes.

As for lockdowns. They work IF you’re an island and you have a small number of infected people. It also depends on the strain.

“The ring of negative cases tells us the risk of infection in more casual contacts is extremely low.

Like the recent local lockdowns in Queensland and WA, Victoria’s lockdown does not seem to have contributed to containment. As it turned out, the outbreak was effectively controlled by rapid case detection, testing, tracing and isolation by the time lockdown came into effect.”

March 28, 2021 1:33 pm

I wonder how much tax money is subsidizing pseudoscience and the environmental terror industry?
Last I checked, my local electrical power, gas, water, and waste removal utilities were all coercive monopolies operated under government planning agencies by unelected officials not subject to any single layer of elected oversight. How does that add up?

Last edited 1 year ago by dk_
Gary Pearse
March 28, 2021 2:04 pm

From the Tax Foundation:

“Between 1981 and 2008, the oil industry paid more than $388 billion to the federal and state governments in corporate income taxes, but they paid almost twice that amount, $683 billion, to foreign governments.”

That’s a cool trillion + over 27 years only considering US based industry… but wait, there is more!

“Excise tax collections have grown steadily. Between 1981 and 2008, $1.1 trillion was collected in excise and sales taxes on petroleum products.”

That’s over another trillion during the same period. But that ain’t all. The US industry alone has a payroll of about 12 Billion a year or over 300 Billion in today’s dollars over the 27 years (and employees pay ~ (say 20% in taxes) or 60 Billion during this period. Finally, there is an economic ‘multiplier’ effect of an industry. Petroleum gets lumped in with mining, the group having a a multiplier of 3.5 × the economy generated by the industry itself – so several more cool trillions that would not be there without the industry. This lost economy and tax revenue streams aren’t considered in the GND replacement costs and the tax streams for wind and solar are hugely negative.

March 28, 2021 2:26 pm

For example, if we didn’t have fossil fuels we also wouldn’t have costs for road, bridges and traffic lights … so why isn’t Kotchen counting the costs of those in the “implicit subsidy”? – article

Why? Because it is an “inconvenient truth” that what pays for it is taxes, not his ninnyhammered ideas, that’s why. It’s denial of reality, and reality is too painful for people like that to be able to face it.

Lovely sunny Spring day here in my kingdom. I’m getting out with my camera tomorrow. Should be birds (geese, herons, egrets, songbirds, etc.) everywhere.

March 28, 2021 3:58 pm

It’s amazing what the media does with the word “subsidy”. Technically, it means money given by a government, so that would negate all the examples in the article by the NAS. Fossil fuels receive mostly tax breaks or depreciation allowance, which aren’t subsidies. The media erroneously combines the 2 under “subsidy” so as to say “look-fossil fuels receive subsidies, too”, and fool the general populace. With a tax break you keep more of what was yours to begin with-with a subsidy you’re handed money. There is no way those two are even close to the same thing, hence that’s where the media steps in. Another thing the study astonishingly misses is that taxes are a negative subsidy, and the fossil fuel industry is one of the most heavily taxed commodities in the world. A gallon of gas is sold, and immediately 18 cents goes right back to the federal government and an average of about 23 cents goes right back to the state of sale. So about 60-90 billion dollars a year goes right back to federal and state coffers, and that’s not counting aviation taxes.

March 28, 2021 4:08 pm

And another point:

The ironic thing is, is that renewable energy will require the fossil fuel industry to be government subsidized eventually.

Warren Buffett group pitching $8 billion fix for Texas grid

Lawmakers would agree to create a revenue stream to provide Berkshire a return on its investment through an additional charge on Texans’ power bills.

What investor is going to invest in a fossil fuel plant, that will need to continuously go offline or produce at half-capacity to accommodate intermittent renewables? (In addition to the reputational hit you will take as a fossil fuel polluter.) Yet, to stabilize the grid these plants will be required. And to do that you are going to need some entity (ie the government) to guarantee you a profit.

Roger Knights
March 28, 2021 4:09 pm

The IMF’s study a few years back used the same logic, including examples like the cost of fixing potholes. It also counted the discounts on gasoline that oil-producing countries give to their citizens as subsidies to big oil, and also the subsidies the U.S. gives to low-income citizens who use heating oil.

David Blenkinsop
March 28, 2021 4:31 pm

I really like how Willis Eschenbach is able to pick apart a couple of huge absurdities in today’s Narrative — that is, how fuel subsidies that aren’t subsidies just *aren’t*, and how CoVid “good for us” tyranny just *isn’t*. Now, lately, we have the amazingly alarming discovery that viruses *mutate* (i.e., they develop more “variants” over time).

When we all get done choking on the “variants are going to kill us” idea, do we finally get an end to the CoVid scare, at least?

Tom in Toronto
March 28, 2021 4:35 pm

It’s going to be great fun figuring out how to pay for roads, public transit, and other infrastructure when everyone’s driving EVs.
Right now most of it comes from fossil fuel and ICE excise taxes so other taxes (electricity? income tax?) will have to be increased.
When it starts to happen, people with common sense will start to catch on to the lie that fossil fuels are being subsidized in any way. It’s literally quite the opposite.

Charles Higley
March 28, 2021 4:58 pm

There is an implicit subsidy in the fact that the authorities allow you to live and impose all of the huge burdens we impose by simply living. In other words, they begrudge our lives and everything salted to them.

B McCune
March 28, 2021 5:01 pm

Study this for a minute and tell me that subsidies for wind and solar are useful

Energy Subsidy vs Production.png
Abolition Man
Reply to  B McCune
March 28, 2021 8:16 pm

The production from solar is so small it is difficult to see in the chart; much like trying to find actual benefits from Unreliables when economics and the environment are considered!

March 28, 2021 5:39 pm

Plenty of examples in history of regions experiencing periods of a few degree colder .. leads to famine, death & less construction. Look at regions that experienced changes to climate (not from AGW) .. some have warmer temps & more rain so now these areas had greater productivity & more people than previous.

March 28, 2021 5:59 pm

What puzzles me is there is almost no mention of the social BENEFIT of carbon consumption. If you accept that carbon emissions (fuel, land use, manufacturing, transportation, cement, etc) are the engine of the economy then with $20.93 trillion us yearly gdp and about 5.3 gt yearly carbon emissions the social revenue benefit of carbon is almost $4000/ton ($3949). 99% of These benefits are Accrued by other than the Us oil and gas companies since their yearly revenue is around $.2 Trillion.

So 99% of the carbon “subsidies” are going to the users not the producers. And if you eliminate the producers ….what happens to the GDP? Check out for the clear relationship between per capita gdp and per capita energy use.

Reply to  Darcy
March 28, 2021 10:39 pm

Indeed. What is the “social profit” of carbon emissions- life saving services by rapid first responders, extended shelf life of produce delivered locally by truck, the extended lives due to central heating and A/C , the convenience of indoor lighting at night, home computers, home appliances and every other “carbon” fueled labor saving devices which subtract hours of labor daily from ordinary people. Doesn’t the ” Social Cost” equation work both ways ?

Jim Veenbaas
March 28, 2021 6:15 pm

How can road repairs, congestion etc. be an implicit subsidy for fossil fuels when the same things would happen if all cars were EVs and powered by renewables?

Jean Parisot
March 28, 2021 8:31 pm

PNAS is a joke.

March 29, 2021 12:04 am

The best way to find out what the SOCIAL BENEFIT or WORTH of something to society is, ..

is to ask the simple question.


Wind and solar…. society has functioned without them for many decades..

…. societal worth or benefit = ZERO

Fossil fuels. society cannot exist without them…

… even the AGW cultists are TOTALLY DEPENDENT on them.

…. societal worth or benefit = INFINITE !!!

March 29, 2021 4:04 am

That economic assessment, his not yours, is totally one sided as you describe it. It includes cost without the benefit, so is wholly unbalanced. The whole of Climate Change rhetoric from the UN IPCC is in fact an attack on the use of cheap and plentiful energy, that has made the West successful, so China can take over by being allowed to do this while the West is not.

ECONOMICS 101: If you include the cost of maintaining roads, then you have to include the benefit of the economic activity they enable, which is fundamentally the total benefit in per capita GDP produced per person from increased energy use per capita, which drives the level of economic prosperity directly, as any (real) economist knows.

This is also why Maurice Strong’s attack on CO2 use with pseudo science created with UN funding was a way to attack successful Western economies’ wealth generating use of energy, primarily CO2 producing, so the “Developing Nations” , AKA China, could power past the West making all its stuff. The same China who gave Strong sanctuary when his theft of $1M in UN funds was discovered, until he died in disgrace.

As you noted with shipping, roads and transport in general move people to work, materials to factories (but more and more in China not the USA, and goods to market. If you add the GDP this creates to the benefit from maintaining roads, the net benefit from transport is huge, and energy dependent. Less is less. The more the potholes, the more wealth is being generated, in fact. Even more if you fix them. Having roads to fix is the first step. See Africa.

The assessment of one side of this equations as stand alone cost of energy use without the benefits accrued by their generation is not a rational form of economic assessment, which is a pseudo science in itself. But this one sided claim could not survive any peer review by anyone who claims to be an economist by educational qualification, more so for their livelihood.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Brian R Catt
March 29, 2021 4:49 pm

+1000 even though i can only upvote you once. Yes, fixing potholes sucks but when the alternative is no road, subsistence farming and poverty, fixing roads is fantastic.
I will consider it a privilege every time i hit a pothole from now on, a sign of advancing civilization

Mumbles McGuirck
March 29, 2021 7:48 am

‘…the amount of bumwad that passes peer-review and is published in “scientific” journals these days is a crime against science …’

My understanding is that PNAS uses ‘pal review’ now, which explains why bumwad like this gets published. The inmates run the asylum. But you have to be on The Team to qualify.

Steve Z
March 29, 2021 12:26 pm

Prior to the invention of the automobile, people traveled on horseback or in horse-drawn carriages. Horses need to be fed, and to be housed somewhere (in a stable) when they are not used for transportation, and their waste needs to be cleaned up. Most city-dwellers or suburbanites do not own horses anymore, but if we went back to them, wouldn’t there be an “implicit subsidy” to stable owners, horse trainers, and oat growers to balance out the “implicit subsidy” to gasoline refiners? What about the “social cost” of the methane emitted from horse manure?

Anyone who has driven down a cobblestone street built during horse-and-buggy days knows that they also have lots of potholes, and tend to be much bumpier than modern asphalt or concrete roads. Who subsidized the repairing of potholes during horse-and-buggy days? To whom were these “subsidies” paid?

Even if all cars with internal combustion engines were replaced by electric cars, electric cars would likely be heavier than gasoline-powered cars due to battery weight, and would likely generate more potholes, so that the cost of pothole repair would likely increase for the same amount of traffic. If we no longer have a gasoline tax to fix potholes, who gets taxed to repair potholes generated by electric cars?

Replacing ICE cars by electric cars would also greatly increase the demand for electric power, requiring more generation plants and more high-tension wires and transformers. Who would pay for the cost of building these extra power plants and transmission lines? The power companies, or would they (as regulated monopolies) ask for some government assistance, which would be an implicit (or explicit) subsidy?

If people try to pin costs on “implicit subsidies”, they have to be counted for both the current system and any substitute system, and balanced against one another. This would likely result in a very small “social cost of carbon (dioxide)”.

Pat from Kerbob
March 29, 2021 4:43 pm


I LOVE learning new words, thanks Willis.
My wife has a word for when someone messes things up but the children are in the room,


You are welcome to borrow it

Also, i note that EV’s are also using the roads, is it no longer a subsidy if the car doesn’t burn gasoline?

Last edited 1 year ago by Pat from Kerbob
%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights