Every ton of carbon dioxide we emit this year will cost the world $35 in health problems, wildfires, loss of agricultural productivity, and other disasters, according to the U.S. government. It had computed $21 a ton in 2010.
The value, known as the social cost of carbon – and which can equal the carbon tax - will rise for every additional ton of carbon dioxide we emit. It will be $43 in 2020 and $71 in 2050.
The world emitted 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2011.
The U.S. government routinely uses social cost when designing regulations such as fuel efficiency standards for cars. The value is calculated by the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, composed of 12 government agencies, and was released on May 31.
What If the Planet Turns on Us?
A price for carbon is needed because we are shortsighted and are best at dealing with immediate problems. But the effects of climate change are not immediate. The extreme weather and high temperatures we are experiencing now are the result of the past emissions, and our present emissions will affect us decades into the future.