Author Topic: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one  (Read 919 times)

pecunia

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Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« on: November 03, 2018, 10:39:53 AM »
Seems to me that one of the biggest things out there that is almost totally being ignored is this global warming thing.

So - if someone wants to put a little investing money into this, what are the possibilities?  I mean some land that can't be economically farmed may be a good investment.  Some new technologies to clean the air may be an investment.  New nuclear power plants which are emission free could be an investment.  New types of batteries that can store excess solar and wind energy could be an investment.

On the other hand, if this thing is a massive hoax, are coal mines a good investment?

jacoavluha

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2018, 10:52:07 AM »
I think you should put your money in a good broad market index fund and go back to work. Recycle. Ride a bike. Buy less stuff.

maizeman

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2018, 11:02:05 AM »
When you say massively ignored, do you mean on this forum? There are several ongoing threads about it. <-- second is more relevant to your questions of how to factor global warning into investing decisions.

Or do you mean ignored by the markets? Because there is good evidence rising sea levels are already being priced into real estate prices. For the stock markets its a bit harder to run the same studies because the effect on global warming on specific companies and sectors will depend on when/if there are significant government policy responses to global warming.

For example if aggressive carbon caps in the USA were introduced in 2021* then investing in utilities with lots of nuclear plants and shorting coal mining stocks might look prescient. On the other hand, if the plant continues to warm and there is no government response, those same investments could perform terribly.

I focused on coal and nuclear because either way, renewable energy seems to be near or past the tipping point where it starts to make economic sense on its own which is leading to rapid growth and adoption. But as a result rapid future growth is already priced into stocks in that sector so buying in now isn't likely to produce an outsized return.

*To pick the earliest year in which officials who might want to do so could gain control of the government.

JAYSLOL

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2018, 02:00:58 PM »
I think you should put your money in a good broad market index fund and go back to work. Recycle. Ride a bike. Buy less stuff.

+ 1

And if you want to make money off green tech start with your own house - install solar panels, use LED bulbs, improve insulation, hang dry clothes etc those kind of things often provide a stock market equivalent ROI.

Boofinator

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2018, 02:24:13 PM »
Yes, the global warming debate is a massive hoax. The facts have been clear for decades, and the debate should be exclusively on what we should do about it (if anything).

From an investment standpoint, I echo the others: unless you know more info than the markets, just stick to market investments and focus on environmental improvements in your own life. Or, you could ride this guy's coattails: https://www.barrons.com/articles/al-gore-is-winning-at-investing-1488493210

ILikeDividends

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2018, 05:35:07 PM »
Seems to me that one of the biggest things out there that is almost totally being ignored is this global warming thing.
Well, not really. 

This Gasoline Is Made of Carbon Sucked From the Air

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/carbon-engineering-liquid-fuel-carbon-capture-neutral-science/

At some point, the earths fossil fuels will run out.  They only made so many dinosaurs, after all.  But long before it runs out, it will become increasingly more expensive to extract it from the ground.  Even without the problems presented by climate change, a dire energy crisis is looming, at some point in the future, that threatens our modern way of life.

Technologies, such as the above link discusses, suggest the tantalizing possibility of delivering a one-two punch to both climate change, and to the inexorable depletion of the earths accessible fossil fuels.  At some point, it will become more economical to mine CO2 from the atmosphere than to mine fossil fuels from the ground.  When that happens, driving your car around town becomes a carbon-neutral activity.

Taking just that one technology a step further, excessive mining of CO2 from the atmosphere at scale, and converting it into stockpiles of liquid fuel simply to store it safely, either for future yet-to-be-discovered applications or for later use as a carbon neutral fuel, could, in theory, play a role in moderating or even reversing the effects of climate change.

Other technologies, such as this one, can convert CO2 to carbon fiber, at about 1/25th the cost of making carbon fiber today; permanently eliminating the CO2 from the atmosphere:
A Novel Way to Pull CO2 Out of the Air and Turn It Into Jetliners
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/a-novel-way-to-pull-co2-our-of-the-air-and-turn-it-into-jetliners

There are other technologies in the works that will also play important roles in the climate change problem. 

Until recently, CO2 has never been considered a resource.  It's so cheap and easy to make.  All you have to do is exhale to make it with your own body, or build a camp fire to cook a meal, etc.

I am hopeful that capitalism and economics will at some point force humankind to view CO2 more properly as both a vital resource as well as a resource that needs to be carefully managed and stored; regardless of whatever the curmudgeon du jour occupying the White House might think about the causes of climate change.

Right now we're using our atmosphere as a giant untapped battery, essentially.  That atmospheric battery is overcharged beyond safe operating capacity.

Whether it is overcharged due to human activity or natural phenomena is really a moot point.  It's due to both.  I find it astonishing that this moot point is even part of the debate.  Just because it's "natural" doesn't mean nature owes humankind a perpetually habitable environment.  Just ask the dead dinosaurs in your gas tank how well nature took care of them.  "It's not our fault," is perhaps the silliest reason imaginable for failing to address an existential threat.  It's a problem that needs to be dealt with, regardless of the causes. 

Now we are beginning to understand how to recover CO2, and less dangerous ways to store and use that resource, and how to bend it to our needs in economically beneficial ways.

I'm not trying to be a "Pollyanna" here.  We are definitely in a desperate race against time.  But there is reason to hope that our modern way of life is salvageable and, with some adjustments around the edges, can be made sustainable.  We are learning how to do it.  Now we just have to do it.  And some very smart folks are already on the job. 

Governments can't solve the problem.  But governments can certainly accelerate the many endeavors already underway to solve it.  Some governments are doing that.  The current incarnation of the federal government has obviously stepped away from participating in the solution.  But the USA is not a monolith, even unto itself.  And its current position on climate change is neither absolute or permanent.

More to the OP's point, attempting to exploit breakthrough innovations that address climate change for financial gain entails taking on the same single-stock risk that investing in new technologies has always had.  If you own a broadly based index, the superstar companies that manage to hit the ball out of the park will eventually become part of the index.

Climate change, in and of itself, offers no better way to gain financially than trying to guess the winning horses in any other technology race.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 12:25:37 AM by ILikeDividends »

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2018, 05:38:59 PM »
On the other hand, if this thing is a massive hoax, are coal mines a good investment?
Irrespective of whether or not the effects of Global Warming are massively exaggerated (like Y2K for those of you that remember), I am reminded of the old saying that "the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

marty998

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2018, 06:15:21 PM »
On the other hand, if this thing is a massive hoax, are coal mines a good investment?
Irrespective of whether or not the effects of Global Warming are massively exaggerated (like Y2K for those of you that remember), I am reminded of the old saying that "the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."

Y2K was a problem until steps were taken to prevent the effects of it. Same with the effects of CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer.

The amount of precaution being shown to the current problem facing humanity is not sufficient to mitigate its predicted effects.

PizzaSteve

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2018, 09:16:55 AM »
Seems to me that one of the biggest things out there that is almost totally being ignored is this global warming thing.
Well, not really. 

This Gasoline Is Made of Carbon Sucked From the Air

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/06/carbon-engineering-liquid-fuel-carbon-capture-neutral-science/

At some point, the earths fossil fuels will run out.  They only made so many dinosaurs, after all.  But long before it runs out, it will become increasingly more expensive to extract it from the ground.  Even without the problems presented by climate change, a dire energy crisis is looming, at some point in the future, that threatens our modern way of life.

Technologies, such as the above link discusses, suggest the tantalizing possibility of delivering a one-two punch to both climate change, and to the inexorable depletion of the earths accessible fossil fuels.  At some point, it will become more economical to mine CO2 from the atmosphere than to mine fossil fuels from the ground.  When that happens, driving your car around town becomes a carbon-neutral activity.

Taking just that one technology a step further, excessive mining of CO2 from the atmosphere at scale, and converting it into stockpiles of liquid fuel simply to store it safely, either for future yet-to-be-discovered applications or for later use as a carbon neutral fuel, could, in theory, play a role in moderating or even reversing the effects of climate change.

Other technologies, such as this one, can convert CO2 to carbon fiber, at about 1/25th the cost of making carbon fiber today; permanently eliminating the CO2 from the atmosphere:
A Novel Way to Pull CO2 Out of the Air and Turn It Into Jetliners
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/a-novel-way-to-pull-co2-our-of-the-air-and-turn-it-into-jetliners

There are other technologies in the works that will also play important roles in the climate change problem. 

Until recently, CO2 has never been considered a resource.  It's so cheap and easy to make.  All you have to do is exhale to make it with your own body, or build a camp fire to cook a meal, etc.

I am hopeful that capitalism and economics will at some point force humankind to view CO2 more properly as both a vital resource as well as a resource that needs to be carefully managed and stored; regardless of whatever the curmudgeon du jour occupying the White House might think about the causes of climate change.

Right now we're using our atmosphere as a giant untapped battery, essentially.  That atmospheric battery is overcharged beyond safe operating capacity.

Whether it is overcharged due to human activity or natural phenomena is really a moot point.  It's due to both.  I find it astonishing that this moot point is even part of the debate.  Just because it's "natural" doesn't mean nature owes humankind a perpetually habitable environment.  Just ask the dead dinosaurs in your gas tank how well nature took care of them.  "It's not our fault," is perhaps the silliest reason imaginable for failing to address an existential threat.  It's a problem that needs to be dealt with, regardless of the causes. 

Now we are beginning to understand how to recover CO2, and less dangerous ways to store and use that resource, and how to bend it to our needs in economically beneficial ways.

I'm not trying to be a "Pollyanna" here.  We are definitely in a desperate race against time.  But there is reason to hope that our modern way of life is salvageable and, with some adjustments around the edges, can be made sustainable.  We are learning how to do it.  Now we just have to do it.  And some very smart folks are already on the job. 

Governments can't solve the problem.  But governments can certainly accelerate the many endeavors already underway to solve it.  Some governments are doing that.  The current incarnation of the federal government has obviously stepped away from participating in the solution.  But the USA is not a monolith, even unto itself.  And its current position on climate change is neither absolute or permanent.

More to the OP's point, attempting to exploit breakthrough innovations that address climate change for financial gain entails taking on the same single-stock risk that investing in new technologies has always had.  If you own a broadly based index, the superstar companies that manage to hit the ball out of the park will eventually become part of the index.

Climate change, in and of itself, offers no better way to gain financially than trying to guess the winning horses in any other technology race.

Good post.  Weve had technology since the 60s to basically do this already at a power plan level using biomass.

Plants are very efficient CO2 fixers.  Researchers developed hybrid plants that create biomass at a very low cost and developed ways to harvest and burn in special furnaces at such high temps that the emissions are almost effectively pure CO2 again.  Would creat jobs to farm our energy.  Easily retrofits existing coal fired old energy plants.  Tested by US DOE and EPRI.

Big oil supresses any attempts to commercialize stuff like this, because the up front capital costs require financing, and the money would not go to traditional corporate stakeholders. Massive solar energy farms or wind...sure...creates lots of corporate stuff to sell, and easily controlled, so that is given a pass.

Biomass composting to methane or similar simple ways to create fuel and heat are another path.

It may happen, but again powers that be like to stay in charge.  It is why we have suburbs and cars instead of efficient trains, etc.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 09:19:15 AM by PizzaSteve »

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2018, 10:07:58 AM »
Y2K was a problem until steps were taken to prevent the effects of it. Same with the effects of CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer.
Sure there were some Y2K problems, but when you compare the spending on Y2K by Italy and South Korea to the rest of the world and their relative number of problems, you can see that the "massively exaggerated" label is appropriate.

pecunia

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2018, 12:14:22 PM »
Pizza-Steve:

"Big oil supresses any attempts to commercialize stuff like this, because the up front capital costs require financing, and the money would not go to traditional corporate stakeholders. Massive solar energy farms or wind...sure...creates lots of corporate stuff to sell, and easily controlled, so that is given a pass."

Is there really a conspiracy of big oil interests suppressing knowledge and solutions of climate change?  Come on things like that have never happened before - But no I guess they have; the Tucker automobile, ripping up the streetcar lines in LA, tobacco and Cancer, FM radio and maybe Thorium energy are examples.

At the end of World War 2 there was a saying, "If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door."  I don't hear that any more.  I think the expression was banned from the public lexicon by the patent lawyers.

Henry J Kaiser was famous for saying, "Find a Need and Fill It."

I am beginning to see that the need is there to stop this climate change.  It's kind of an obvious thing.

One more old saying applies here, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

I think you gentlemen have made me see that although there is an obvious need, the issue is too huge for there to be a customer.  The only way these innovations will be adequately marketed is via government intervention.  You can make gasoline using the carbon in the air, but it is not a cost saving innovation for the public.  It's still cheaper to use the crude oil in the earth as the feed-stock for the gasoline.  Even converting coal to gasoline through  Fisher Tropsch would probably be less expensive.  There is still plenty of oil and coal.

As long as men do not make rules for themselves to offer adequate incentives to solve the global warming issue, it will not occur.  What has been done are simply small band aids to make us feel better about the problem.  Money is the creation of mankind and without the rules changing by men, ventures to ameliorate global warming will bear limited success for economic gain.

Cleaning up the air is expensive.  The status quo with "dirt cheap" ventures will allow greater investing success.  Thanks for the good inputs.

Boofinator

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2018, 01:54:52 PM »
Y2K was a problem until steps were taken to prevent the effects of it. Same with the effects of CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer.
Sure there were some Y2K problems, but when you compare the spending on Y2K by Italy and South Korea to the rest of the world and their relative number of problems, you can see that the "massively exaggerated" label is appropriate.
Your inductive reasoning needs work. It's like saying scurvy really isn't an issue because some navies gave up to two limes per sailor per day, whereas other navies only rationed one per week with no incidence of scurvy.

mjr

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2018, 03:21:40 PM »
Right now we're using our atmosphere as a giant untapped battery, essentially.  That atmospheric battery is overcharged beyond safe operating capacity.

CO2, being in a lower-energy state than elemental carbon or hydrocarbons, in no way whatsoever makes it a useful resource per se or an "untapped battery".  The economics all comes down to from where the energy comes from to turn it back into a higher-energy state, be that carbon or hydrocarbons.  There's no shortage of carbon atoms in the world.

I'd be somewhat interested in the technology to compare its efficiency in converting energy into a form that's usable by vehicles,  whether internal combustion engines are the way forward compared to hydrogen-powered fuel cells and electric engines needs to be analysed.

To hang a "climate change mitigation" label on it is complete nonsense.

ILikeDividends

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Re: Possible Off Topic Question - A hot one
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2018, 04:19:03 PM »
Right now we're using our atmosphere as a giant untapped battery, essentially.  That atmospheric battery is overcharged beyond safe operating capacity.

CO2, being in a lower-energy state than elemental carbon or hydrocarbons, in no way whatsoever makes it a useful resource per se or an "untapped battery".  The economics all comes down to from where the energy comes from to turn it back into a higher-energy state, be that carbon or hydrocarbons.  There's no shortage of carbon atoms in the world.

I'd be somewhat interested in the technology to compare its efficiency in converting energy into a form that's usable by vehicles,  whether internal combustion engines are the way forward compared to hydrogen-powered fuel cells and electric engines needs to be analysed.

To hang a "climate change mitigation" label on it is complete nonsense.
As explained in the link I provided:

"The captured CO2 is combined with hydrogen, which is made through the electrolysis of water. While the process requires a lot of electricity, the pilot plant in Squamish uses renewable hydro power. The resulting synthetic fuel can be blended or used on its own as gasoline, diesel, or jet fuel. When itís burned it emits the same amount of CO2 that went into making it, so itís effectively carbon neutral."

Obviously, if the electricity used in production is not from a sustainable source (hydro, solar, wind, etc), then it loses it's carbon-neutral advantage.1

And as you correctly pointed out, once burned, it emits the same amount of CO2 that went into its production.

It is only a potential tool for reversing climate change if deployed at scale far in excess of the immediate demand for fuel; solely for purposes of storing the atmospheric CO2 someplace other than in the atmosphere.

But even if it is deployed simply to match supply with demand, recycling atmospheric CO2 is still better (i.e., less bad) for the climate than mining new fossil fuel, burning it, and continuing to add even more CO2 to the atmosphere at ever escalating rates.

It doesn't need to reverse climate change in order to qualify for the mitigation label. If it doesn't qualify as a mitigating factor, in your view, then we'll just have to agree to disagree on what is or isn't nonsense, or on what the word mitigate means.

1 The same could be said of electric engines.  They are only as climate-friendly (or not) as the source of electricity used to charge their batteries is.  Likewise, hydrogen gas is energy intensive to produce, more energy intensive to compress, and way more energy intensive to liquefy.

This article points out some of the other pitfalls of hydrogen fuel cells:

The Five Myths of the Hydrogen Fueled Vehicle
http://www.dalefield.com/slspartners/hydrogen_fm.html

It concludes with:

"Hydrogen is an expensive substitute fuel, but will play an important role as a chemical feed stock to synthesize and produce cleaner liquid fuels for transportation."


« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 07:32:26 PM by ILikeDividends »