Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What are the Societal Costs of Air Pollution?

The social cost of atmospheric release ( 14 page pdf, Drew T. Shindell, Climatic Change, Feb. 25, 2015)

Also discussed here: New models yield clearer picture of emissions' true costs (Phys Org, Mar. 4, 2015)

Today we look at research into the social costs of emissions both carbon emissions that provoke climate change and associated health and environmental impacts and non carbon emissions which directly cause health impacts. Results indicate that the typical gasoline-powered car causes $1,700 of environmental damages each year in comparison with a small electric car (Nissan Leaf) which causes less than half as much ($840) when the electricity comes from coal, or $290 from natural gas or negligible if from renewable energy courses. This equates to an environmental cost of $3.80 per gallon of fuel. These cost estimates suggest in turn a reasonable price to put on those who drive these vehicles which would not only encourage a shift to less damaging forms of transportation as it suggests a revenue source to pay for the damage they do to the social and environmental environment.

social cost of pollution  

Key Quotes:

“The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples.”

"We think we know what the prices of fossil fuels are, but their impacts on climate and human health are much larger than previously realized…We're making decisions based on misleading costs."

"Looking at electricity, for example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates generation costs per kilowatt hour of power to be about 10 cents for coal, 7 cents for natural gas, 13 cents for solar and 8 for wind… Not surprisingly, the U.S. has seen a surge in the use of natural gas, the apparent cheapest option. However, when you add in environmental and health damages, costs rise to 17 cents per kilowatt hour for natural gas and a whopping 42 cents for coal."

“Within the transportation sector, the environmental damages per unit of fuel consumption are $3.80 (−1.80/+2.10) per gallon of gasoline using a 3 % discount rate, far larger than the current federal tax of $0.184 per gallon and more than 7x greater than the typical combined local, state and federal gasoline tax…Damages are substantially larger for diesel fuel, $4.80 (−3.10/+3.50) per gallon, owing to the greater BC emissions from diesel engines “

“For vehicles, emissions from a typical midsize US gasoline powered vehicle (26 miles gallon−1, 12,000 miles yr−1) lead to environmental damages valued at $1700 yr−1 using the SCAR with 3 % discounting…..In comparison, analogous damages associated with the generation of electricity to power a midsize electric vehicle (EV; 2013 Nissan Leaf, 0.29 kWh mile−1 (fueleconomy.gov)) are $840 yr−1 for electricity from coal, $290 yr−1 for electricity from natural gas and miniscule for nuclear or renewable”

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