Distinguishing between “Climate Change” and “Climate Change Policies” on Investment Portfolios

February 16, 2011

Here is an important article by Roger Pielke, Jr. “What does Climate Change Risk Mean for Investment Portfolio Risk?” He points out that the main stream media (Reuters) mis-represents the report.

Thus, the risk to financial portfolios in the report is thus entirely due to climate policies and not the effects of “the physical impact of changes to the climate.” Of course, a news story that begins — “Climate change policies could put trillions of investment dollars at risk” — doesn’t really have the same ring to it.

Remind me again, why this is being built?

February 16, 2011

The Forth Ports authority plans to build a “green” biomass power generation plant based in the Leith area of the city. It’s considered “green” since it will burn wood chips shipped from USA and Scandinavia, and “32 lorries of fuel and other materials” through the day. The Scotsman reports that while the plant will take 4 years to build, it may be torn down in 25 years.

I guess it makes sense to create power near where it’s used as this cuts down on not-insignificant loss; but why in the centre of a city? And why plan to tear down in 25 years. I know they are prepared to do this simply because they see better profit in building homes and commerce in 25 years; but a power plant is what a city needs. Perhaps integrate it? Having it near a port for receiving fuel and exporting waste sounds a good idea. But is burning this sort of fuel good for a city? Dunno.

Food Security and Sustainability

February 15, 2011

I attended Professor Tim Lang’s presentation at the Royal Society of Edinburgh last evening.

Fascinating and shocking.

I took a lot of notes and I intend to write something of my thoughts here at some point in the near future. Meantime, the real job and future engagements get in the way…

Professor Lang is enthusiastic and passionate about his topic of food security and sustainability. Far as I can tell his main beliefs include.

: Fixing food production will not help. He calls it “productionism”. We have to fix the demand side.
: It is wrong to import food into the UK
: What we eat is no longer up to us
: We must eat less to allow others to eat more
: We should grow up and not behave like Americans
: We must be “low carbon” and “healthy”

My observations (and horror):

: he does not describe the risks, e.g. “because of [this], [that] will happen, leading to …”
: he does not propose any mitigation actions directed to these risks
: he does not outline any benefits or costs
: he shows lots of “data” in graphs with psuedo scales
: while using the word frequently, he does not “elaborate” on what sustainability actually is and how it can be measured
: …

The question that popped into my head this morning upon waking that I do wish I would have asked him is:

“Professor Lang. Thank you for an enlightening lecture. As is clear, the purpose of food is to sustain the lives of people on this planet. Do you think the population of people is now optimum, and if so, why? And if not, why?”

He needs to read Matt Ridley’s recent book.