Hype and Profits Surround the Carbon Conversation

Nov. 12, 2013
Proposed views of a catastrophic future need thorough review and a valid cost-benefit analysis.

Al Gore and David Blood are principals at Generation Investment Management (GIM).  They warned in the Oct 30 WSJ of upcoming peril in carbon assets in part because of looming market-share losses to “already competitive” renewable technologies.  

Mr. Gore stated that these renewable technologies were already economically competitive with fossil fuels in a number of countries and that they were competitive without subsidies. Really?  I don’t know of any. We have talked before about how Europe is rethinking subsidies and renewables given the heavy cost it places on households and businesses. 

GIM, through Gore and Blood, regularly espouse the view that the planet is on its way to devastation and irreversible damage from climate warming (2 degrees C). Their firm makes money investing under this premise. It is good realize then that the claims of global warming by GIM may, at least in part, be driven by a profit motive. 

In case you were wondering, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has admitted that global temperatures have been flat for at least the last 16 years despite rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere. The global increase in CO2 levels has occurred despite the US reduction in CO2 emissions to 1995 levels. The panel has also admitted that their simulation model grossly exaggerates the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on the climate.

So let’s review. The original proponents of the problem, the IPCC, say their model is broken and temperatures are not rising. The chief spokesman for the anti-fossil fuel group/proponent of alternative energy makes money by having as many people as possible believe in his view of the future -- a future filled with fear of extinction. There is nothing illegal in this, and it may even be inherently capitalistic. 

However, it might be considered unethical to sell the view of the future that the planet is doomed because of mankind’s activities without people understanding that the spokesman for that position has a vested interest in having you buy into that view - a view that is still theoretical and not borne out by empirical data.  Perhaps it is time we have a real cost-benefit analysis conducted on what we are doing and whom is really going to end up paying for it. The Germans, wonderfully pragmatic at times, just might be on to something!

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