Friday, July 30, 2010

Financial Advisors/Blogosphere asleep to global warming

With a notable few exceptions (1, 2, 3) the impact of global warming on future returns of virtually all investment activities remains un-noted and undiscussed by financial advisors and the financial blogosphere. They are generally asleep - or worse - unconscious to the threat to global warming. Even from the strictly narrow and selfish point of view of market returns, they are failing their clients and readers in not discussing this widely and frequently.

The cause of my latest missive was the front page of Canada's Globe & Mail yesterday, replete with charts, graphs and discussion of the latest release (July 28th) of the annual State of the Climate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (complete report [224 pages], or highlights [10 pages]). Given that all 10 indicators pointed to continued global warming, would it have been unreasonable to expect that at least a few financial bloggers/advisors to discuss this, and the short, medium and long term portfolio implications?

Apparently. A quick search around various financial blog aggregators revealed a collective yawn - nothing, or virtually nothing. A collective sigh went out, and the children all went back down for their afternoon naps.

Unfortunately, we have now reached a point where the temperature of each year as it passes, is now higher than the average year of the past decade. Further, each passing decade is now setting new records for warming, compared with the prior decades. Here's a couple of highlights from the highlight report:

Continued temperature increases will threaten many aspects of our society, including coastal cities and infrastructure, water supply and agriculture. People have spent thousands of years building society for one climate and now a new one is being created – one that’s warmer and more extreme.

The report noted some of the extreme events during the past year:

• In Brazil, extreme rainfall in the Amazon basin caused the worst flood in a century. Forty people were killed and 376,000 were left homeless.
• In southeastern South America, the wettest November in 30 years displaced thousands of people.
• In northwest England, heavy rainfall flooded the Lake District, setting new records for river flows and damaging 1,500 properties.
• In northern Iberia and southern France, a North Atlantic storm raked the land with record winds, downed power lines, closed airports and blocked railroads.
•Three intense heat waves broke temperature records in Australia. One of them was accompanied by high winds that fanned bushfires, killing 173 people.
By the way, with it all the rage to talk about the possibility of deflation (a distinct short term possibility, I admit), I will go out on a limb and say that the longer term picture is very disturbing, and includes the very high possibility for runaway inflation. All starting at the beginning of all stored wealth - food. Watch for it there first.

In defence of saying nothing however, these are the kind of dummies they have to deal with ... contrast and compare kids ...

Scientists views
Investors views

At the end of the day, however, you are supposed to either a) inform and challenge your audience (bloggers) or b) protect and grow assets (advisors). Your silence embarrasses you.

Well, now that this commercial intermission has awoken a few fellow bloggers and perhaps to a financial advisor or two, the rest of you can fall back to sleep to la la land, where the sky is beautiful all day long and nothing ever changes. Strawberry fields forever.

Note: If you're on a blog aggregator, you can visit The Confused Capitalist here (or here: for additional articles and exclusive content!JWThe Confused Capitalist


Jay Walker said...

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for coming by. I do have a sporadic posting history for sure; perhaps that'll change going forward. If you are looking for climate change stuff, you might also check out my other blog, the Agitated Ecoist, as I'll do some big picture thinking on climate over there from time to time.

Thanks for coming by.


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