EDITORIAL: The ‘social cost’ of breathing

The latest war, this one on carbon dioxide

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

The key to success in business is making products that beat the competition. Government just makes rules, and drives up costs for competitors. Despite President Obama’s happy talk about the nation having achieved the highest proportion of domestic oil and gas production in 20 years, his administration is tipping the scale further in favor of fringe energy sources over affordable fossil fuels. Americans can expect to pay more to power their businesses, houses, cars and trucks.

A working group that includes the Environmental Protection Agency and 10 other departments published a report in May about raising the “social cost” of carbon dioxide, a natural substance essential to life that bureaucrats label a “greenhouse gas” and a “pollutant” on the theory that it heats the globe. The working group cooked up computer models that project a warm planet and would have rising sea levels and crop damage at a cost of $27 to $221 per metric ton of carbon dioxide by 2050. These calculations are 60 percent higher than estimates published a few years ago.

The fatal flaw in the left’s imaginative tale is the lack of a causal connection between CO2 and the weather. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have continued to climb, but actual temperature readings have not budged over the past 16 years. Even the New York Times, which has vacillated over the past century between proclaiming imminent doom from a “new ice age” and doom from “global warming,” last week grudgingly conceded that the absence of warming is inexplicable, based on the fashionable climate-change hypothesis.

Attributing global warming to human activity — and blaming fossil fuels in particular — creates a convenient excuse to impose regulations. However, climatology has shown that this simplistic hypothesis can’t explain changing climate patterns, which at one time took the tropics to Antarctica, which is now buried under ice. The big hot ball of fire in the sky, known as the sun, has a lot more to do with the temperature on Earth than anything man can do.

Raising the “social cost” of carbon dioxide is all about skewing the numbers when performing a cost-benefit analysis of governmental regulations, making it easier to hinder the flow of oil and natural gas. To discourage the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport affordable crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, the EPA has urged the president to factor in the “social cost” of 935 million metric tons of greenhouse gases it estimates would result from the use of the pipeline’s oil over 50 years. Doing so could raise the project’s cost by tens of billions, and have a ripple effect throughout the entire economy.

A 2010 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded the price of electricity was one of the most important factors manufacturers consider when deciding where to locate a factory. Driving away affordable sources of power, such as oil and gas, makes everything more expensive by reducing competition. America’s economy is on the ropes, and that’s the true social cost of the administration’s global-warming fable.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts