12289The economics of fossil fuels
- Mar 1, 2012Hi All,
Fossil fuels are even worse than you know from an economic
standpoint. This article is rather long but worth at least
a quick skim. Some of the numbers are really scary:
A few nuggets:
That reports lead author, the late Dr. Paul Epstein, told me in an interview that Between the land disturbance, the mountaintop removal, the processing ... and the combustion, we estimate that this is costing the American public somewhere between a third to half a trillion dollars in health costs and deaths.
In fact, coal is so economically disastrous that the mainstream journal <http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.5.1649>American Economics Review found that the electricity generated from coal actually does more damage to the economy than the electricity is worth.
According to Ratigans calculations, the price of gasoline is around $10 too cheap per gallon when all unaccounted-for costs are included. Other projections put the figure even larger. And there are a wide range of estimates of the <http://thinkprogress.org/green/2011/09/29/332378/economists-coal-is-incredibly-costly/>true cost of coal: Depending on how you factor in the costs of climate change, it could be between a few additional cents per kWh to a whopping ¢26.89 extra per kilowatt hourthe <http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=External_costs_of_coal#cite_note-13>high-end estimate from the Harvard study. By way of comparison, the average American paid ¢11.54 per kWh on their <http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=electricity_home#tab2>residential electric bills last year.
(BTW--I recently switched to wind power, which added a whopping 2 cents per kWh to my bill. If the 27 cent figure is correct, then everybody could switch and the country would save huge amounts of money.)
They conclude that some form of carbon tax is the only short-term
way to go. I agree.
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