Comments (15)

  1. Bill Bollinger says:

    Apparently we are actually in a carbon drought.

  2. George zulick says:

    One of the best articles on the topic that i have read.
    Thank you

  3. JOHN BAIN says:

    David – excellent article! I am sending this to all my (both left and right-leaning) friends in this debate.

    We need an “all of the above” solution, with both short and long term goals in mind.

    Thanks for the great article!

  4. Joanne Fuchs says:

    I am a fireside economist and look forward to your friday information sheet. I realize this “climate change” subject is controversial and comprehensive, and I also noted that you didn’t pursue the cattle methane problem. i would like to point out that food animals are an important source of the sustainability of the soil for food and all other plant life. Gabe brown wrote “dirt to soil,” which explains the importance of food animals. good read!

  5. Michael Jones says:

    This is an even handed review of the complex subject. The linking of economic damage to efforts at c02 reduction needs to be thoroughly considered. it is unlikely that china and india will let economic well being become SUBSERVIENT to a drive to reduce co2 EMISSIONS. sadly, there seems to be little room for thoughtful discussion in a public forum.

  6. Alex Evanochko says:

    Thank you for this article, Mr. Hay. I could fill 10 pages of commentary dealing with the claims and counter claims of both Alarmists and Deniers. I choose to follow the Physics. Our Sun has started to cool so I’m not convinced that the Earth is warming. Natural Gas has a calorific heat value of approximately 9100 BTUs. Coal has about 26,000. So you’d need to burn 4 X the amount of Nat. Gas as you would 1 lb. of coal to generate the same amount of electricity. thus, is Nat. gas any cleaner? A Carbon monitoring station on Mauna Loa…so, a monitoring station set up near an active volcano…really? Imagine how much carbon dioxide it would take to acidify our oceans…which make up 7/10ths of the Earth’s surface. The amount would kill every living thing on Earth! Also, if Earth was ensconced inside a giant balloon, then I could see atmospheric CO2 levels rising to poisonous levels, but, in all the Apollo moonshots, I did not hear of such a thing. Given that atmospheric Co2 levels have made only slight increases, I fail to see how our Earth is “imperiled”. I could go on, but I’ve already said enough. Thank you and have a great day, Sir.

  7. wheewiz says:

    mR haY IS CONFUSED BECAUSE HE STILL HAS NOT FIGURED OUT THAT co2 IS IRRELEVANT TO ALL CLIMATE considerations. co2 is simply the essential plant and crop food from which almost all life is made. more co2 is better. even more is better still, especially now that crop output is being hard hit by the rapid cooling of the planet. Time to wrap up in the N hemisphere.

  8. greg Thomas says:

    a well written article. I too have wondered how much of warming is man made versus “natural”. As a geologist I know the earth has undergone major periods of cooling (Ice ages) and heating, well before any man made contributions


    MR. HAY:


  10. ed tompkins says:

    Hello David,

    and thanks for putting together and sharing these ideas about the future of energy. It is an important discussion.

    what seems to be lacking however, is any serious discussion about nuclear power as a carbon-free, base load energy source.

    there is a lot of very good information in this ted talk by climate activist michael shellenberger called “why I changed my mind about nuclear power”,


    Ed tompkins, cfp

  11. Giuliana Isaksen says:

    Note to moderator: I did not type this in all caps but the website converted it, Please correct this. thank you.

    I agree with Alec Evanochko that the Earth is not in peril. The Earth is a giant rock with a molten core, it will be fine. What we should be concerned with is that very thin film around the outside which is the only place in the entire universe where humans can exist.

    Right now you, me, our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are 100% invested in climate change not being a thing but given that there’s no backup planet wouldn’t it be prudent to have some margin of safety? I certainly think so. Margin of safety = believe the science.

    To date the best science we have on the subject is covered in Global Warming of 1.5 ºC by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; October 2018 and Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States (NCA) by The US Global Change Research Program; October 2018*.

    These reports were succinctly summarized as follows**: “Whereas the October 2018 report entitled ‘‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5oC’’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change5a and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment5b report found that—
    (1) human activity is the dominant cause of observed climate change over the past century;
    (2) a changing climate is causing sea levels to rise and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure;
    (3) global warming at or above 2 degrees Celsius beyond preindustrialized levels will cause—
    (A) mass migration from the regions most affected by climate change;
    (B) more than $500,000,000,000 in lost annual economic output in the United States by the year 2100;
    (C) wildfires that, by 2050, will annually burn at least twice as much forest area in the western United States than was typically burned by wildfires in the years preceding 2019;
    (D) a loss of more than 99 percent of all coral reefs on Earth;
    (E) more than 350,000,000 more people to be exposed globally to deadly heat stress by 2050; and
    (F) a risk of damage to $1,000,000,000,000 of public infrastructure and coastal real estate in the United States; and
    (4) global temperatures must be kept below 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrialized levels to avoid the most severe impacts of a changing climate, which will require—
    (A) global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from human sources of 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030; and
    (B) net-zero global emissions by 2050”

    *Note that: “Chevron accepts the consensus in the scientific communities on climate change,” and agreed with the IPCC’s conclusions that human activity is warming the planet. “There’s no debate about climate science.”


    In case you prefer your science from someone with an investment angle: The Race of Our Lives Revisited, Jeremy Grantham August 8, 2018

    Or scientists from the industry: CO2 Greenhouse Effect: A Technical Review by M B Glasser, Exxon Research and Engineering Company; April 1, 1982

    And: The Greenhouse Effect by R.P.W.M. Jacobs, Greenhouse Effect Working Group, Shell Internationale Petroleum; April 1986

    Some people can’t bring themselves to ‘believe’ in climate change because as Upton Sinclair said: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” But you know who does believe the science? The US Military: National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate by The Department of Defense; July 23, 2015

    I think it really comes down to margin of safety which is a core principle of value investing and we know that value investing is hard. But in this case our future and the futures of all whom we love depend on doing the hard thing. What if the scientists are wrong? What if climate change is the next Y2K? Well billions and billions of dollars will have been invested in new inventions, new technology, new businesses and someone is going to do very well by investing in them.

    The real downside is in belonging to the group that Jeremy Grantham spoke of: “Perhaps they hate their grandchildren.”

  12. Excellent piece. Two observations.

    First, as well demonstrated in the extremely informative Nova documentary “The Nuclear Option” available on Youtube here: despite the emnity and ignorance of the Right and Left political factions, there has been safe nuclear power available in the U.S. since the late 1950s. In fact, the prototype is still running to this day. The dangerous water cooled reactors in use today are the result of a rush to the market of a design originally fitted for nuclear submarines, where water was the easiest coolant available. Moreover, there are many newer designs in the works that are more efficient in the use of radioactive materials, thereby leaving much less waste to dispose of. In addition, there is a technology being developed by a company in which Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are the major investors, that may actually be able to run on the currently stored waste, reducing the problem, rather than adding to it.

    Second, while carbon capture may work well in certain enviroments, one only has to observe the repeated occurences of lake overturn in the region of Gorongosa National Park in Africa where trapped CO2 periodically escapes from underground caverns killing thousands of people in a matter of hours. While I expect man made storage would be safer, one cannot predict the seismic events that could turn a large CO2 storage facility into a massive disaster.

  13. This “paper” is very bad on many levels. Aside from the Author David Hay just giving his opinion, it is clear that he does not know what he is talking about —- from the issue of Climate change and what causes it (YES — Human Beings) to its worse source now (Yes – Natural Gas). The need to get off coal is important but NOT to use natural gas which is horrible and now even a bigger supplier of energy for everything —- And yes california is leading the way to get off of natural gas, fracking and more “clean energy” supplies that are bad, wrong, and destroying the Nation-State of California and other states and nations around the world.
    The problem is also in Economics as the people and companies that are in natural gas site it as “clean energy” which is false and misleading. “Nike-power” for France and EVs is cited by the Author as good. NO. Nuclear Power is bad since even in France which has over 70% of its power from nuclear energy has not (as in the USA) found a way or place to put its waste. That is where the next big problem will be coming soon. The point is the world needs green power (solar, wind, geothermal, water, run of the river etc) Now. our children and grand-children need us to take actions Today not in 2050 or later. NOW.

  14. douglas percival barlow says:

    Great article, that will be shared, thank you.
    I’m lucky hear in the U.K. I have a drive and garage beside my home. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of brits, live in terraced homes without a drive nor garage. they have no access to charging an e.v. therefore can never own one.
    We have many high rise homes and, homes that have no access to a nearby charging facility.
    It would be fare to say, many brits can never own an e.v.

  15. A study by the world bank group titled “The growing Role of minerals and metals for a low carbon future” shows that Wind, solar and energy storage batteries will need increasing amounts of minerals and metals that have their own environmental costs. it is a sobering reading for people relying on these renewables as the answer.

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