New Effort to Quantify ‘Social Cost’ of Pollution

New York Times 18 June 2013.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is making a second attempt to systematically account for the dollar damage from greenhouse gas pollution, even with no consensus on how to forestall global warming or whether to do so.

Supporters of the idea acknowledge the tremendous difficulties of trying to translate slippery estimates into a single mathematical factor, difficulties that perhaps help explain why there is little hope of consensus now on climate policy.

The new effort is an update to an estimate for the awkwardly named “Social Cost of Carbon,” a range of costs, stated in dollars per ton, that carbon dioxide emissions are thought to impose on future generations. When the government totes up costs and benefits for a variety of proposed regulations, the Social Cost of Carbon is plugged into the calculation to decide how to write the regulation…