Assessing the Social Costs and Benefits of Regulating Carbon Emissions

Reason Foundation / by Julian Morris

[Institute for Energy Research]  Julian Morris has produced a detailed study for Reason that explores the costs and benefits of carbon dioxide emissions. Morris concludes with the provocative claim that the weight of evidence suggests federal agencies should ignore carbon dioxide emissions when evaluating regulations, because on balance the “positive externalities” from enhanced agricultural output, reduced deaths from cold, and so forth balance out the “negative externalities” from climate change….

Morris discusses several strands in the recent scholarly literature that suggest the “official” estimates of the harm of carbon dioxide are much too high. For example, a 2014 paper using the FUND model derives a relatively low estimate of the social cost of carbon, in part because it incorporates the benefits of CO2 fertilization. In other words, the higher the atmospheric concentration of CO2, the greater agricultural yields will be (other things equal).

Morris also discusses the developments in the physical science literature that suggest that the current “official” estimates overstate how much the earth will warm in response to a given increase in CO2 concentrations…


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