Wednesday, January 31, 2007

investment opportunities of global warming

With the new IPCC report discussing global warming issued recently, I began wondering what the impact on investements and the economy would be.

Here's a quick summary:
  • Fossil fuels were accused as the primary protagonist with a 90% confidence
  • Temperature increases of 2.7 to 8.1 degrees, north central and Mountain West see up to 7 degree increase
  • More heatwaves in S and W of US
  • Less frost in N of US
  • Sea levels may increase up to 20"
  • N states see more rain and snow, drier regions become drier still

What is the commercial impact:

  1. Catastrophe claims increase in coastal areas - sub-sea level areas become uninsurable - residential properties decline in value or become unusable - insurance companies see increased costs, wind and flood premiums rise. Opportunity: construction technologies designed to withstand significant flooding and wind damage.
  2. Significant increase in electrical costs for air conditioning and refrigeration - nuclear energy and alternate energy products - much of what GE produces.
  3. Dramatic change in farm lands will create opportunities to grow tropical and other food crops domestically. Traditional grain belt may shift N into Canada. Free trade agreement between US and Canada becomes more important. Geographic impact of shift in agriculture as well as labour and transportation dislocation risk social instability and increased social welfare costs (i.e. taxes).
  4. Relocation of population further inland to avoid the worst of weather and water related catastrophes as well as those who have lost homes.
  5. Florida will be one of the worst hit locations. Somehow I expect increasingly significant catastrophe damage will drive relocation faster than rising waters, which will be more gradual.

This is certainly not an apocolyptic message, but certainly one full of change and discomfort.

The report further discusses the unlikeliness of reversing these effects - in fact cessation of any greehouse gas emissions would still leave a 100 year legacy.

Scientific research, of periods long past, also indicate previous greenhouse epochs, so we know our planet will survive. The most critical decision is how we plan to adapt and how we can preserve our invstments in the process.

One thought, without inexpensive energy sources, we will not be able to compete economically against the many third world countries creating export based economies who do not abide by greenhouse gas reduction treaties.

We are most likely to see reactive tarrifs placed upon their products. Actually, this plays well into the current positioning by democrats in regard to their demands for globalization offset terms as part of their renew of President Bush's fast track trade negotiation rights. Congress would further like to further hobble the President's trade agreement freedoms with various special interest requirements that will certainly nueter future trade negotiations. It's odd how President Clinton, a Democrat, also desired and lead free trade negotations free of special interest influence.

We are at an unusal time where the cheap US dollar makes our exports more competitive. Will we destroy the opportunity for economic growth, increased employment, etc...? I'm sure congress would like to do so.

Regards, makingourway


Anonymous said...

Very good thinking - reminds me of a "bird-flu" portfolio I saw somewhere about a year ago. Yours is better thought-out and longer range, though.


mOOm said...

The next US president of whatever party will try at least to enact compulsory GHG controls... Some solution for developing countries is going to have to be built into the next post-Kyoto treaty after 2012.

For stock investments I don't think much of this matters... it's too long term. But buying beach-front property should never be on the agenda. Tsunami or hurricane threats are probably uninsurable even without climate change.

Anonymous said...

The US and china are probably the biggest poluters out there. If you're looking at from an investment opportunity, companies that produce solar panels, water desalination technology, wind energy, etc are going to be playing a fast catch up to the oil company rev's.