For the context of this thread, perhaps a fair guideline is, "Assume the climate is changing - it could be humans, it could be natural, but let's assume the data that shows things are changing is correct, and discuss how one adapts"?
In anticipation of the next installment of the MMM blog, I think the more interesting thing to discuss is how climate change will impact mustachian strategies. Are there investing approaches that are or are not recommended, or that may be impacted by climate change? Any decision making to be done as it relates to travel, house size, etc? What will be the mustachian adaptation (chosen or otherwise)?
I've certainly set out to angle my life to be well suited to what I think are the upcoming winds. Climate change, debt at nearly every level of society, the increasing financialization of all the things, and our increasingly bubble-like economy don't give me warm fuzzy feelings about the future I'm likely to see in my lifetime.
TBH, I think "investing in the markets" is a long term strategy that is not hugely wise at this point. I certainly still have some exposure to markets, mostly as a hedge against inflation, but I'm not sure the regular, consistent returns of the past 50 years or so will be a thing for very much longer, and I'm not counting on them. I'm not sure my 401ks will be worth much in 25 years, and I'm not really counting on them.
Instead, I'm focusing on creating a low and flexible cost of living, with an ability to provide for a good bit of our own needs, and a useful, diverse skillset of "things I know how to do well."
This looks like a house in a more remote area, gardens, flexible working from home, and a bunch of hobby projects mostly revolving around low energy use/efficient energy use. So solar heating, earth tube cooling, low energy transport (electric bikes being my preferred style), and some greenhouse/aquaponics work for year round food production. I'd like to dig some root cellars as well, though the rock makes this difficult.
Consider it "investment in tools, property, skills, and knowledge" instead of in markets. I'd rather have, for instance, a decently equipped electronics repair lab, than another $1500 in an index fund.
My wife & I are also raising our kid (one so far, may have more at some point) "analog" or "low tech." We don't have any game systems. We generally don't do that much with digital entertainment (though I admit e-ink readers are nice). Instead, we regularly play board games with friends and family, and enjoy things like tabletop role playing games. They don't require an internet connection, there's no DRM involved, and they can be played with a candle, if you care to.
I generally agree with JM Greer that the arc of civilizations is consistent over history, and evidence indicates that we're on the backside of ours. So getting used to rougher times and less energy/less stuff is a useful thing to do. Mustachians, in general, are already along this curve, so should be somewhat less affected if consumer goods are rarer in the future. Meanwhile, I'm sure we all know people who will be very upset if they can't get a new bulb for their 4k home theater projector.
A lot of my plans involve working towards anti-fragility - which can be generally seen as the opposite of efficiency. "Efficient" is generally one small bump away from not working, whereas anti-fragile systems take more space and raw energy, but tend to work better in the face of disruptions. So, for instance, grid power plus a small solar/battery backup system for lighting and airflow. Gardens, greenhouses, and grocery stores. A variety of methods of getting around. And redundant tools.
Something I'd like to see is even better incentives for folks to install solar. I know not everyone has the weather, roof access etc. to pull it off, but especially after seeing Sol's post http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/solar-panel-installation/ about covering more than 100% of his usage, if half the homes in the US had solar panels, we'd make a pretty big dent in our non-renewables.
I'm not really a huge fan of home scale solar. It doesn't cause any major problems at low penetration levels, but 50% of the US having solar panels is simply not compatible in any way with our current grid infrastructure or power management.
Nevada figured out that paying people obscene amounts of money to put solar panels on their roof wasn't a long term winning strategy, and fixed it.
The problem is, most people with rooftop solar are *not* off grid. They're still grid tied. And only a small amount of your power bill goes to "power" - the rest of it goes to grid maintenance/upgrades/overtime/etc. It generally costs a power company $0.02-$0.04/kWh for power - the rest of the consumer cost assumes you're using a decent amount of power, pulling it through the grid, and goes to pay for infrastructure.
What rooftop solar does is say, "I'm not going to buy your power, but I am going to use your grid." As a backup, as a way to get power to other users, etc. Nevada (and I expect other states will follow) is saying, "Fine. If you want to do that, then you need to pay for the grid maintenance in your flat connect fee, and I'm going to pay you like I'd pay any other power producer, not like a special snowflake." It's quite reasonable, if your goal is a stable power grid.
Also, solar panels have a generally fixed energy cost to produce. How much energy they produce in their lifetime depends heavily on where they're installed. Optimally, you'd put them in places with insane amounts of sun, not in places that are grey and cloudy 6 months of the year (like, say, Seattle). I'd rather see panels going up in Eastern Washington, where it's sunny year round, then going on rooftops in Seattle, where it's grey and crappy for long chunks of the year. The losses of transmitting the power over would be outweighed by the increased per-panel annual production where there's sun.
I'm quite the fan of solar, but either at a home scale backup system (not grid tied), or at industrial levels, run by power companies, so they can keep their grids intact and running. I am actually a fan of the power grid.
If you want to tell the power company to take a flying leap, great. Go fully off grid. You won't have to pay them a dime. But, you're not going to have the same "I turn the switch on and things work" level of energy awareness either - you'll need to actually pay attention to your energy consumption and match it with the production. Sunny afternoon? Do whatever. Third cloudy day a row in the winter? Maybe not the time to use the electric dryer.
Not a popular opinion, I'm aware.
Solar is growing like gangbusters in China and India. Is that because they have less money invested in centralized power plants and lines?
Generally. China has serious air quality issues in most of their cities as well, and their government still has the ability to say, "We are doing X" - and X happens. Quickly.
India has a comically corrupt and unstable power grid, so solar is appealing in that it's reliable, and you can have a little bit of energy even where there's no grid.
I agree that there's an insane amount of sunlight striking the earth. However, it requires very serious amounts of non-renewable materials to turn it into the forms of energy we find useful. Solar panels don't spring out of the air. And the mining involved in getting the materials needed is an ugly, ugly process - both energetically and in what it does to the local environments.
And if I'm wrong? Well, then, I still live somewhere I enjoy living, with some damned fine home grown food, and a lot of interesting hobbies that don't have to pay the bills because the stuff I kept in the markets pays for my low basic cost of living. Damn. I can deal with that.