The Social Cost Of Carbon Dioxide

The Costs of Climate Change Trickle Down

According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, California has 20,472 coastal households at risk, with 25% of them located in Marin County, California. This county serves as an illustrative example of the risks faced across the nation. By 2045, Marin County could face chronic flooding, putting properties with an assessed value of $2.7 billion in jeopardy. This would not only impact property tax revenues, estimated at around $40 million, but also lead to significant costs that ripple through local businesses and homeowners.

To assess the vulnerability of the Marin County shoreline, the Marin Shoreline Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment considers reasonable scenarios, ranging from 10 inches to 60 inches of sea level rise by the end of the century. The mitigation costs associated with these scenarios could reach billions of dollars.

A report published in NATURE in September 2018 estimated the global cost of carbon dioxide emissions to be conservatively $417 per ton when considering the economic impact on all nations. To put this in perspective, a single round-trip flight from New York to Europe or San Francisco can have a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person.

The social cost of carbon (SCC) is a commonly used metric to assess the expected economic damages caused by CO2 emissions. Countries like the United States, India, China, and Saudi Arabia are projected to face substantial costs to their infrastructure. “The argument that the primary beneficiaries of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions would be other countries is a total myth,” said Kate Ricke, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at the University of San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

When factoring in the economic, social, and health costs of hurricanes, fires, sea-level rise, coastal communities, health risks, and biodiversity loss, the overall costs remain difficult to tally accurately. Carbon, as a fundamental metric, has been largely overlooked in our accounting of costs. However, now we are starting to witness the unforeseen consequences of this invisible debt.

In 2018, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to two American economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, for their groundbreaking work in unraveling the economics of climate change and technological innovations.

Nordhaus, from Yale University, developed computer simulations that assess the costs and benefits of various measures to mitigate global warming. He has argued in favor of taxing the carbon content of fuels as an effective way to incentivize businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency has used Nordhaus’ work, among others, to estimate the economic impacts of climate change.

Romer, from New York University, expanded economic theory by highlighting the role of government policies, such as research and development funding, in stimulating technological advancements. According to Romer, the presence or absence of these policies helps explain differences in national wealth and economic growth.

To calculate your own carbon footprint and create a mitigation plan, you can use the carbon assessment tool provided by Can you score 100? Consider signing up for MCE Deep Green Electric (+25 pts.), driving an electric vehicle (+50 pts.), reducing your round-trip flights per year by 3 (+25 pts.), consuming less meat (less than 6 times a month; +10 pts.), becoming a vegetarian (+25 pts.), and carpooling (+10 pts.). We will send you a Daisy Arts Happiness Journal when you win the Cool 100 prize!