Climate Change: The Useful Debate

It seems that a lot of the debate over climate change/global warming is in part centered around definitions and in part about grants and agendas.

The useful debate should be, is it better to try to slow the pace of climate change or prepare to live with the “inevitable”?

In an effort to clear the air, climate change is real and has been going on since the formation of the earth, whenever and however that occurred.

Climate change is not the same as global warming.

If you live in the upper Midwest, you should realize that all of those lovely lakes that are nearly everywhere in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, were what was left behind when the last glacial period receded some 10,000 years ago.  If you think that was way too long ago to be relevant, remember, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built more than 4500 years ago.

Whatever caused the glacial retreat at the end of the last ice age, it wasn’t humans burning fossil fuels.  In order to have a useful discussion about weather and climate in the here and now, it is important to engage in a thorough assessment of cause and effect.  While this may prove to be difficult, it should be helpful to consider possible causes and potential solutions.  It is also important to engage in a thorough understanding of costs versus benefits.

Investors should recognize that climate change is likely to remain a high profile issue and that it is probable that a great deal of money will be spent (typically someone else’s) and perhaps not wisely.  For investors, the intriguing questions include, whose money will be spent, who will be the biggest beneficiaries and how best to invest?

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA