Vast hidden costs of energy use

A recent report by the US National Research Council entitled “Hidden Costs of Energy: Unpriced Consequences of Energy Production and Use” (October 2009), concludes that airborne emissions from coal-fired electricity generation and the transportation sector are responsible for most of the estimated US$120 billion in annual environmental damage in 2005 that is not counted in energy prices, though the damage is likely much larger as the panel did not quantify expected damage from climate change and other hidden “externalities.”

Besides excluding monetary damage from climate change, the report does not monetize harm to ecosystems, the effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security – damage with a monetary value that numerous environmental groups and some economists argue should be reflected in the cost of various energy uses, thus making the estimated value far lower than the actual damage.

Source: Car Lines, October 2009

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