Monday, April 30, 2007

Corn and soybean stocks increase around the world

From the Bismark Farm and Ranch Guide

Some solid harvest numbers. "USDA estimates Brazil's crop at 58.8 million metric tons or 2.16 billion bushels. Brazil's corn crop is forecast at 49.5 million metric tons or 1.95 billion bushels.

Argentina's soybean crop is not much smaller, at 45.5 million metric tons or 1.67 billion bushels. The average soybean yield is 42.8 bushels/acre.

Argentina is also harvesting a record corn crop at 22 million metric tons, or 866 million bushels. The average corn yield is 7.72 tons/hectare or 123 bushels/acre.

Together, Brazil and Argentina will produce a 3.83 billion bushel soybean crop in 2007 vs. 3.18 billion bushels produced in the United States in 2006."

NASA reports "Record crops in Argentina"

Lobbyists, pest control and dikes

Marc Gunther has a couple offbeat global warming investment ideas. I haven't figured out how to make portfolio investments in lobbyists, my brain locks up when I postulate them as an asset class.
I skimmed "The Population Ecology of Gucci Gulch, or the Natural Regulation of Interest Group Numbers in the American States" looking for ideas, nothing.

The IPCC's Working Group III is meeting this week in Bangkok, they will release the Summary for Policymakers on Friday at the 26th session of the IPCC traveling fun show (these folks sure fly around a lot, Brussels earlier this month, Valencia in November).

This summary, mitigation, will be the one to look at for investment themes, although following IPCC s.o.p., the actual report will be tweaked to conform to the summary and won't be released until October. I'm not kidding about that last bit, summary first, adjust report to fit.

"Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work"

"Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter."

HT: AltEnergyStocks

Friday, April 27, 2007

WWF says nuclear no answer to climate change

Sorry about that. In a post a couple hours ago I made a reference to this link and hadn't posted it!
It's the WWF that says nyet to nuclear. Here's their 2003 position paper. And here's the most recent post on their website, filed under Climate Change, March 19, 2007.

Apparently WWF Australia disagrees as does Patrick Moore co-founder of Greenpeace whose 1976 statement:
"Nuclear power plants are, next to nuclear warheads themselves, the most dangerous devices that man has ever created. Their construction and proliferation is the most irresponsible, in fact the most criminal, act ever to have taken place on this planet." is still being used as a pull-quote by Greenpeace.

Moore wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Post headlined "Going Nuclear".

In future I will post first, self-reference second.

Fusion Energy Money?

The Senate passed the "America Competes Act" Wednesday by an 88-8 margin. I have only skimmed the bill but it appears that DOE is one of the beneficiaries. Sandia is mentioned by name but again I haven't read the bill. Here's a summary.

Today in Big Coal

The Huffington Post is cross-posting an opinion piece from Grist linking to the Wall Street Journal and The Nation. What on earth would this Superfecta (hey, the Derby's coming up) have paid just a couple years ago? These days; even money at best. The Nation story almost had a stand-alone headline winner with ".... Dirty Rock" but they put the "The" in.

Carbon Taxes, Carbon Offsets and Thou

Looking at the last few posts I started laughing.
Cap-and-trade? Nyet
Carbon tax? Nyet
Biofuels? Nyet
Nuclear? Nyet

In the words of Viktor Chernomyrdin, former head of Gazprom: "We meant to do better, but it came out as always"

Speaking of Gazprom, Canada could buy their way out of their Kyoto commitment, willingly entered into by the Liberal government (not pejorative, note big L) by availing themselves of Gazprom's J.V. with Dresdener Kleinwort; it would cost Canada about $6 Billion per year.

From the NYT: "At current prices, the total value for Russian carbon credits could be between 30 billion and 45 billion euros, or about $40 billion to $60 billion. But if negotiations to extend the Kyoto Protocols collapse, carbon credits could be worth nothing." (HT: WSJ EnergyRoundup). Easy come, easy gone.

It's a slow day in the markets, I am willing to entertain prop. bets on when the Canadian dollar trades at par. Payment in Maple Leafs. Not loonies.


"An initial tax of $10 per ton of carbon content will be assessed on coal, petroleum and natural gas when these fossil fuels are initially removed from the ground or imported into the United States. The tax will increase by $10 each year, freezing when a mandated report by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Energy determines that carbon dioxide emissions have decreased by 80 percent from 1990 levels."

An 80% reduction is mighty ambitious. At first blush Rep. Stark's proposal sounds like a bad joke, until you realize he is pretty senior on the Ways and Means Committee, this is serious and our neighbor to the north can give us some indication where we might end up. The $10/yr. tax step up might seem dramatic until you compare it to the current Canadian proposal:

"Introduction of a carbon tax, at a nominal rate of approximately $195 for each tonne of GHGs emitted, that would apply to all GHG-producing activities by the industrial, commercial and household sectors.11 The tax would be payable by businesses and individuals at the point of sale for consumption of fossil fuel energy, as well as on emissions generated by industrial sectors from activities not directly related to fuel consumption (e.g. petroleum refining)." That's from Environment Canada's analysis of Bill C-288.

Of course they use Loonies so in formerly real money it's only $174/tonne. Do the tonne/ton thing= $191. Yikes.

No Biofuel Bubble in France

"German biodiesel sales have plunged 40 to 50 percent since the start of the year after the government began taxing the "green fuel" saying it could not afford to lose the large tax revenue from fossil diesel."

Talk about your unintended consequences.

From Reuters

HT: Planet Ark

UBS Investment Bank Launches - UBS Global Warming Index

This looks like fun.
I'll report back when I figure out how to use it.
UBS: the cutest gnomes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Trade-Offs in Allocating Allowances for CO2 Emissions

How inConvenient. From the Congressional Budget Office:

"...Regardless of how the allowances were distributed, most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would."

"...Besides imposing costs on the economy, a cap-and-trade program would transfer income from some people to others."

"...A cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions would tend to increase government spending and decrease revenues. Like other consumers, the government would face higher prices for energy and other carbon-intensive goods and services. In addition, by leading to a decline in the production of such goods and services, the cap would cause a decline in the taxes collected on corporate profits."

The CBO is always been worth listening to. This is an eight page Policy Brief. In the words of Instapundit "Read the Whole Thing"

Sandia, A Step Closer to Achieving High Yield Nuclear Fusion

Fusion is the silver bullet.
"This is the most significant advance in primary power generation in many decades," says Keith Matzen, director of Sandia's Pulsed Power Center.

Smart and funny, physicists are some of my favorite people. "
The large-cherry-lifesaver path to nuclear fusion" (Okay, that's probably Sandia's media folks)

Plus, a really, really quick computer; the second fastest in the world. Rpeak 127 Teraflops.

This release is worth a read.


Helping Yahoo! Go Carbon Neutral

Following up on this announcement of their green intentions, Renewable Energy Access is reporting that Jerry Yang and the rest of the Yahoos (their term, not mine) are looking for ideas to help them hit their goal of being carbon neutral within eight months.

Since the Green Movement as applied by business is as much about branding/marketing as it is about the actual reduction in carbon, energy, eco., footprint I expected to see some sort of consulting/compensation/prize offer. I didn't find that bit however.

Here are some of the answers they've received.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

France: Vive Les Nukes

This is the transcript from the CBS News 60 Minutes segment on the French nuclear industry which aired April 8, 2007.

I liked the way Mme. Lauvergeon pulled Steve Kroft's tit with her T.V. reference: ""Wind and solar are you know, temporary sources of energy. It works when you have wind, it works when you have sun. No sun, no wind, no energy. You don't want watch TV only when you have wind."

She seems pretty sharp, which makes sense; Forbes ranked her as the 8th most powerful woman in the world. She may have to be, if this headline is to be believed "Areva : la tension monte en Finlande Troisième retard annoncé hier pour le réacteur EPR construit en Finlande par Areva. Le démarrage est repoussé de deux ans, à début 2011."
The story's at La Tribune for 1,50 euro or free in english at Forbes "Areva to take 500 mln eur. charge for Finnish reactor delay "

Following up on the theme of really fast computers, Madame Lauvergeon can probably get time on the CEA supercomputer if she needs it. It's good for just shy of 64 Teraflops, ranking it 7th fastest in the world--smokin'.

Investors see greenbacks in green energy

What some serious money is up to in alternative energy.

From the Stamford Advocate:
"...Players such as Norwalk-based MissionPoint Capital and Prospero LLC, and Stamford-based GE Energy Financial Services, have invested billions of dollars."

Barack Obama Unveils Initiative to Combat Global Warming

From SolancoNews, THE information source for the southern end of Lancaster County.

" Barack Obama recently joined students and researchers working to increase the use of biofuels on UNH's Durham campus, to unveil his plan for a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard (NLCFS)" Source

In more laid back biofuel news:

Industrial hemp provides many benefits to society"
"...Furthermore, it can be efficiently used to create excellent biofuels and many other substitutes for environmentally harmful petroleum products." From the Daily Lobo

Meeting the Ethanol Challenge: Scientists Use Supercomputer to Target Cellulose Bottleneck

From UC SanDiego:
"Termites and fungi already know how to digest cellulose, but the human process of producing ethanol from cellulose remains slow and expensive."

The simulations took 80,000 processor hours (32 hours on a 2500+CPU system).

The SDSC DataStar is a big time supercomputer, #68 on the University of Mannheim/University of Tennessee list of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world.

This cellulosic biofuel stuff is not going to come fast. Or cheap.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Alternative Energy and the U.S. Military

The post below got me thinking just how serious the fuel situation for the military was during the 1973 Arab oil embargo.

NBC led a piece on their Nov. 15, 1973 broadcast by saying " Arab oil cutoff deprives United States military of 1/2 of oil supplies. Defense Department gives military priority on oil supplies over civilian users." If you didn't click on that link, you should. Vanderbilt University's searchable nightly news database is a great resource.

The Department of Defense invoked the Defense Production Act to lay claim to any fuel they might need. The Emergency Petroleum Act of 1973 (PL 93-159, scroll down) was enacted Nov. 27, 1973. It fit the current definition of Draconian (Dracos has gotten a bum rap).

The military has had some smart people thinking about their own fuel needs and the nation's strategic energy interests for a very long time. There are smart people working on behalf of the American taxpayer. I mean very smart.
I will never forget seeing Rear Admiral Grace Hopper on 60Minutes with her 11.8" piece of wire (that's the distance light travels in a nanosecond).

Major General Zilmer referred to in the post below on the Marine Corps use of renewable energy was described by Noah Schachtman: "He's emerging as an extremely interesting figure..."

No shiite. "The Marine Corps needs a capability to transport small mission-tailored units thru space from any point on the globe to a contingency at any other point on the globe within minutes...This includes a need for flexibility, such as the ability to loiter in Low Earth Orbit to optimise the time of insertion..." source. See also "
Marines Want Spaceplane"
Noah's site is here.

Synthetic Fuels From Alternative Energy Sources Can Power The U. S. Military

This article and another from National Defense: "Alternative power sources sought for remote bases" reminded me of the request by the Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer (headlined at the CSMonitor "In the Iraqi war zone, US Army calls for 'green' power"

Noah had a post titled "No Blood for... Solar Power? with a lot of links.

Tiffany Deploys Over 1 Megawatt Of Solar Power At New Jersey Distribution Center

TIF seems to be hitting on all cylinders although beware "Merrill Lynch Launches the ML LifeStyle Index" and "SGAM Global Luxury & Lifestyle Fund ("GLLF")" and "Deutsche Börse Calculates New World Luxury Index.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Celebrity Carbon Offset

I wish I was smart enough to come up with this idea. As the website says:

The Most Affordable Offset Available

Celebrity Carbon Offsets are designed to be affordable... just $5.00 per package. You simply purchase a package of C2O, select the celebrity of your choice and then mail your carbon offset seeds to the rich and famous

Cellulosic Ethanol Project Selected for Funding by U.S. DOE

I don't know why Renewable Energy Access took three weeks to get this story but I'm glad they did.

The original DOE release said the $5 mil. was going to Purdue. The Archer Daniels Midland website says it is a joint project. ADM and Purdue have worked together before.

Not to put too fine a point on it but I told you so.

Alternative Energy Mutual Funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

Alt-Energy Stocks had a post with that title yesterday. Although the presentation is (a little) jumbled, the information is nice to have in one place and the analysis is right on the money.

I left a comment at the WSJ EnergyRoundup last week regarding MO vs. the DJIA. The chart is stunning. A similar demonstration of the value of buying socially frowned on investments is the VICE fund; with Lipper quintile rankings of 1 for the one, two and three year and life of fund periods.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Moral Judgment On 'Sin Stocks' Means Higher Returns For Vice-Friendly Investors

That's the headline of a press release from the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business announcing the release of a draft paper by the school's Prof. Marcin Kacperczyk and Princeton Economics Prof. Harrison Hong.

Prof. Hong lists his research interests as: "Asset pricing with less-than-fully-rational investors; differences of opinion, short-sales constraints and asset prices; social interaction and financial markets; career concerns, biased forecasts and security analysts; organization, performance and mutual funds; asset pricing with asymmetric information and other market imperfections."
Hey! Mine too!

A quote from page 4 (of 50):
"In contrast to institutional investors, individual investors can keep their stock positions out of the view of enforcers of societal norms, and therefore we expect individual investors to be more willing than institutional investors to hold sin stocks."

The fact that an individual investor (or hedgie) won't be elbowed away from the trough by CALPERS means your entry price into a name won't carry a societal approval premium. On the other hand your exit price will be lower to the extent your universe of buyers is limited to vice-savvy investors (hedgies).

And what does this have to do with global warming investments?
One-as social pressure builds to be perceived as green, see Yahoo yesterday ("Our numbers suck but we're carbon neutral!) we should see an expanding green premium.

Two-as the dirtiest, filthiest, vilest, Hitlerian energy sources are shunned (at least in polite company) their risk premia will shrink. At least until I join my brother Greenshirts in a Night of the Longknives at BTU headquarters, 701 Market St., St. Louis, MO 63101.

Ahem. Excuse me. Got carried away.
See you at the face-painting booth Sunday, Earth Day.

Here's the Kacperczyk/Hong paper, "The Price of Sin: The Effects of Social Norms on Markets".

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Indexes, ETF's and Global Warming

A few weeks ago Mark Gongloff had a post at the's EnergyRoundup with the cautionary title "Alternative Energy’s “Cover” Moment?". He ended the post with this humble line "And that could be one reason why the alternative-energy boom might continue for a while after all. Or at least, there’s a 50/50 chance of it."

Of all the "Cover Moments" the most infamous is the Aug. 13, '79 BusinessWeek "The Death of Equities" with the DJIA around 875. Paul Kedrosky has a great chart at Infectious Greed. If you note that date, it was three years before the Big Bull started, with the Dow closing at 776.92 (I think; That day was a lifetime ago) on Aug. 12, 1982. My personal favorite cover moment was the Oct. 4 1999 BusinessWeek "The Internet Age". Both of these pale before Prof Irving Fisher's timing of his Sep. 4, 1929 statement "There may be a recession in stock prices, but not anything in the nature of a crash." (the DJIA had peaked the day before at 381, it would bottom at 41 in 1932), or his more famous Oct. '29 "...permanently high plateau".

All this history came welling up (from an admitedly strange mind) because of a line--"Cleantech: The New Biotech" that Richard Kang used a few months ago in a posting to Seeking Alpha: "Tree Huggers Unite! A Survey of Cleantech ETFs".
The Amex rolled out the BTK biotech index in October 1991 and a very astute trader told me that was a top, get flat or short of the biotechs. Good call-see chart. The biowrecks fell 50+% over the next three years.

So what does this all mean? I agree with Mr. Gongloff, I think we've got a ways to go before a top in clean-tech and alt-energy. Why isn't the "Cover Moment" or BTK experience operative this time, even though we have another half dozen indices and ETF's since Kang did his piece?

No, it's not because "It's different this time"! It's because the Wall Street marketers are faster to recognize a fad and can create product faster than ever before. The covers and funds and indices hit the market earlier in the cycle. So look for something like this: "INTERNET.COM'S ISDEX, THE INTERNET STOCK INDEX, BREAKS 1,000, A GAIN OF 1000% IN LESS THAN FOUR YEARS"
That tout was dated March 10, 2000. The Nasdaq closed that day at 5048.62, it's all-time closing high.

Carbon 'black market' emerges

Amazing how fast business and markets (at least those that survive) can adapt to changing conditions. Here you have an anticipitory "green market" in carbon credits even though there is no current legal obligation to do so in Australia.

During World War II it took six to nine months for a gasoline black market to develop after rationing began in 1942, according to this short paper "Coupons and Counterfeits: World War II and the U.S. Black Market"

Copyright prohibits my giving you this paper, but I love the title
" Coupon rationing and rent-seeking bureaucrats"

Starting on page 5 " WORLD WAR II POSTER CAMPAIGNS" reproduces some of the conservation/rationing posters of the day. Worth a look for a graphic representation of the zeitgeist.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sustainable Energy-without the hot air

Who better than a Cambridge physics professor to hang out with this weekend? Well maybe a few folks come to mind .
Many years ago a very old and wise and rich speculator said to me "There's time enough to do anything, there's not time enough to do everything, you have to make decisions".
I've made my decision. Somebody should do it.

With that preamble (pre-ramble) here's a seven MB PDF with the above title. (If I can tease you just a bit, it's dated April 11, 2007)

If that seems too daunting, here's the website of David J.C. Mackay, Professor of Natural Philosophy,and Gatsby Senior Research Fellow Department of Physics Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. Don't miss the "about me" link on the left.

Airlines Should Buy More CO2 Credits in EU Plan

I got a twinge when I read this. An actual honest-to-God muscle contraction.

Granted, Europe has (stymied. Do I use "Europe has its" or "Europe has their". How long is the EU going to last? Do I recognize it as a singular?) problems. But when you get the politicians involved you get quotes like this:

"We don't have a final view in the parliament as of yet, but I think there's going to have to be a compromise somewhere between 3 percent and 100 percent,"

HT: JunkScience

Allen Greenspan, Worth Civils and the Wall Street Energy Roundup

Climateer Investing got a mention by Worth Civils at the Energy Roundup yesterday.

Worth is a heavyweight financial reporter (although for some reason, even though I saw his byline hundreds of times in the Journal and at MarketBeat, I thought he was freelance).

If I could ask Mr. Civils one question, with his sources, resources and insight, it would be: what does he make of Allen Greenspan's Feb. 23, 2004 speech at the National Credit Union Association in which, as Chairman of the Fed., Greenspan said:

"American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage. "
"Indeed, recent research within the Federal Reserve suggests that many homeowners might have saved tens of thousands of dollars had they held adjustable-rate mortgages..."

This one has stumped me for three years.

Thanks for the blogroll Worth.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Climate Change Experts Look to European Model for Curbing Emissions

The NewsHour (with Jim Lehrer) had segments on Cap-and-Trade (Tues.) and Pigovian Taxes (Wed.). That Headline is from the transcript for Tuesday. The Wednesday transcript is here.
RealAudio available for both, streaming vid. for the first. Worth a look (or listen).
I am really coming to appreciate Ray Suarez as an interviewer.

The IMF and Biofuels

How's this for a quote:

"While on a small scale biofuels may be beneficial
by supplementing fuel supply, promoting
their use to unsustainable levels under current
technology is problematic, and long-term prospects
for biofuels depend heavily on how quickly
and efficiently second-generation substitutes
(such as plant waste) can be adopted. Many
energy market analysts also question the rationality
of large subsidies that benefit farmers more
than the environment. While new technology is
being developed, a more efficient solution from
a global perspective would be to reduce tariffs on
imports from developing countries (for example,
Brazil) where biofuels production is cheaper and
more energy efficient."

That's found on page 45 of the World Economic Outlook, Ch. 1 (appendix)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Citadel, Shaw, Tudor Shun Global Warming as Short Sales Climb

Just a reminder, Climateer Investing had this story the day it hit the wire.
Re: the post below "It takes a difference of opinion to make a horse race"

If OpinionJournal can use the quote without attribution (and in a story about financial journalists no less) so can I.
I think it was probably Twain.

Credit Suisse "In Focus" Global Warming

Three of the five comments in Credit Suisse' In Focus last week were related to climate change.
Timely but not as prescient as Marc Faber talking about the same subject in 2005: "The Reality of Global Warming: Chronicle of a Disaster Foretold" at Whiskey and Gunpowder.

ConocoPhillips Awards ISU $22.5 Million for Biofuels Research

This is the website for Iowa State University's Office of Biorenewable Programs.

I am convinced that the research being done at the big Ag schools will have world changing impacts. The papers from Perdue and Minnesota, in the heart of corn and bean country, give some indication of the intellectual honesty that is still manifest in this country, compares so favorably with the political aspects of energy and is required if we are going to find answers to really large (forty quadrillion BTU's of petroleum per year) challenges.

In my last couple posts I've (gently, I hope) poked fun at some of Vinod Khosla's biofuel investments and pronouncements. Before I leave the topic of biofuels I should point out another of Mr. Khosla's projects. Mother Earth News has been promoting the idea of totally self-contained farming for decades, although not on this scale. For some reason, I can't get a picture of Mr. Khosla in OshKosh B'gosh overalls out of my head. Green Acres is the Place to be...

Climateer Investing: where you'll find sequential links to Wired2.0 and MENews. With theme music.

HT: WSJ EnergyRoundup

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Vinod Khosla's Biofuel Investments

The VC Ratings blog has the most complete list of Mr. Khosla's renewable energy investments that I've seen. (HT: The Energy Blog) Two things to note, first the different industry or process groupings. Second, the solar component which ties into this note from Green Wombat.

Two followups to yesterday's post. It's been brought to my attention that Mr. Khosla may not be planting trees to offset his larger than average carbon footprint (you know what they say "big carbon footprint-big income statement), rather he may be buying European emissions credits. Well that opens a whole new set of problems with CO2 emitters moving to Morocco or China or India.

Mr. Khosla is already outsourcing R&D and plant, property and equipment costs to the American taxpayer, here's $76 million to Range Fuels.

At least they're being honest about it. From the New York Times (HT: American Populist)
"However, if they are to translate their formula for innovation successfully to the world of energy, they say, they need the government to be, in effect, an investment partner". The message to politicians is that "you have to create a playing field to make it possible for us to back these companies," said Nicholas Parker, chairman of the Cleantech Group, a research and trade organization representing venture investors in alternative energy.

I just don't remember these kinds of grants and subsidies being given to Sun Microsystems.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Global Warming and Venture Capital

We're coming up on the 100th anniversary of the Panic of 1907 (Join our cult, get the calendar free!). The Boston Fed. did a great paper on the panic that should have gotten a wider audience.

It's not that often you see a sub-head like "In Which the Downfall of a Prominent Speculator Rocks the Financial System, and a Prominent Millionaire Saves the Day" in a Fed. Bank Publication.

Rereading this got me thinking about the differance between J.P. Morgan (Our Hero), and the current crop of VC's flogging their new-found green credentials. Where were they six years ago? Oh, that's right: Webvan and and and Even Queer Company blew through $5 mil.

Compare that to Morgan six years prior to the Panic, during the Northern Pacific squeeze of ought-one. J.J. Hill flying across the country in a commandeered train, counting on one of the few guys on the planet who knew as much about railroads and financial markets as Hill himself (or for that matter as much as Hill's nemesis Ed Harriman- E.H., famous for saying "I can distribute more stock on upticks than I can on down"); some things never go out of style.

Morgan knew the railroad business. The current batch of VC's probably couldn't diagram an ethanol molecule. Even Vinod Khosla, a very, very smart guy, putting his money into cellulosic and Brazilian cane ethanol, said on the Charlie Rose Show that he flies around carbon neutral.

C'mon Mr. K., in the first place it's not the same as changing your lifestyle! Secondly and more importantly, it either takes a whole bunch of tree's one year to suck up the carbon from one Heathrow-LAX or it takes ten trees 40-50 years. And then you have to guarantee that they never burn or rot, or you've accomplished nothing but a temporary salving of the conscience.

If you ever want to bring a VC down a notch remind him that Microsoft didn't use venture capital. Then give 'em a hug, it's a tough way to earn a billion.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Biofuel Investments

The Wall Street Journal's Energy Roundup had a post Friday going over first-quarter results for clean-tech and alt-energy investments. One thing that jumped off the screen was how poorly the biofuels group did compared to solar and wind power last quarter.

This industry is going to be tougher to handicap than the auto's were between 1895 and 1925:

"Various lists of automobile producers have been compiled. The most inclusive is a list compiled by Carroll and Hannan [1995] from the Standard Catalog of American Cars, which attempts to list all firms ever mentioned as involved in the automobile industry. Smith [1968, pp. 183-184] confines his list to firms that manufactured and sold to the general public. He excludes the few companies that built and exhibited cars for the sole purpose of selling stock, the hundreds of companies that filed for incorporation but failed to advance beyond the paper stage, and the hundreds more that designed a car but never got into production." (How's that for a footnote! From a wonderful paper by Steven Klepper at Carnegie Mellon).

Biofuels probably won't be as financially disastrous as the airlines:

"Investment legend Warren Buffet notes, “As of 1992, the money that had been made since the dawn of aviation by all of this country’s airline companies was zero. Absolutely zero.”

Lamenting his unprofitable purchase of stock in US Air, the normally sagacious Buffet quipped on the December 17, 2003 centennial anniversary of the Wright brothers’ historic flight, 'If I’d been at Kitty Hawk in 1903 when Orville Wright took off, I would have shot him down. Karl Marx couldn’t have done as much damage to capitalists as Orville did.'” There are numerous versions of this quote, this version sounds like Mr. Buffet but it may be apocryphal.

Next week I'll post some of the things I've learned over the last few years about biofuels.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Very Off Topic

I just realized that the last line of the previous post : "The memory be green" (Hamlet 1:2) is one of the earliest usages of the verb "to be" in Ebonics that I've come across.

If you aren't up to the expected fire, plagues, death and destruction of the WG II release, take a minute and go through all the conjugations of "to be" in Ebonics. Include all persons and tenses. I'm waiting.

Ebonics, the language of Shakespeare

HT: Oakland Unified School District Board of Education

The IPCC and Global Warming

The Working Group II report "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" was supposed to have been released when I woke up (not upon my awakening), there is intense politicking over the wording and the release has been delayed.

The IPCC has been making selective leaks so we know the general flavor of the wording.

From a previous (non-IPCC) report:

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."

I'll be over at Climateer Economics and the science site Climateer most of today.

The WSJ Energy Roundup beat me to the punch on coal. I read somewhere that one of the rules of blogging is "The longer you delay writing on a topic, the better the final effort has to be".

I'll see if I can find something like this to say about our prospects:

In the most high and palmy state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.

It's not "Happy Days Are Here Again" but pretty chipper for Hamlet. Or this:

The memory be green.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Where to buy Carbon Credits

Why go to The CCX or the ECX?
Buy your carbon credits on EBAY!

Granted, the price is higher, and it appears the euro credits are going to zero, prompting stories like this:
"EU carbon price must rise: EC"
Carbon finance & emissions tradingFriday, 9 March 2007
The price of carbon in the EU emissions trading market will have to rise above current levels to drive new investment in clean technology, the European Commission's energy chief Andris Piebalgs says.

It's all good.

Rogers and me

Grist has an interesting interview with the CEO of Duke Energy.
As the Chair of the Edison Electric Institute, a legitimate heavyweight.

One quibble, the interviewer refers to Jim Hansen as "the nation's most respected climate scientist." He's the guy the WSJ recently called out for crying censorship while giving 1400 interviews.

Blowin' in the Wind

Alt Energy Stocks has the lowdown on the slowdown in component delivery and some stock tips.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Masters and Climate Change

I apologize for promising more on coal and not delivering (yet).
This is topical, the Supreme Court decision was so last Monday

From: Physical Geography, vol.27 no. 3
Lightning at "The Master's": An Evaluation of April Thunderstorms in and near the Augusta National Golf Club.

From: WeatherBill (13 page PDF)
Impact of Climate Change on Golf Playable Days in the United States
"A Mann-Kendall test was used to test for trends in the Golf
Playable Days for each location. Values for Golf Playable
days for each of the last thirty years were used as input to
the Mann-Kendall test and trends were determined to be
significant if they passed the Mann-Kendall test with 95%

From: The Journal of Leisure Research (Reg. req.)
The Impact of Climate Change on Golf Participation in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA): a Case Study
"It is clear that the North American golf industry attributes a considerable share of its economic success to weather and climate, yet surprisingly very few studies have attempted to assess the empirical relationship between weather and climate and the golf sector. "

More coal tomorrow (If you can't wait: King Coal retains the crown a while longer).

Coal and The Supreme Court's Mass. v. EPA Ruling

I've been wondering if the strength in the auto, utility and coal groups since the Supreme Court decision could give a hint to where the political decisions might lead us. For example, the biggest miner, Peabody is trading above it's open on Monday, up a couple percent today. Head fake or wall of worry? More on coal this afternoon.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Supreme Court and Global Warming

In the post below, I said "this week it's the Masters and the IPCC..." I didn't have a clue the Supreme Court would be handing down their decision in Mass. et Al v. EPA today. With that mea culpa on the record, I put together a bunch of links over at Climateer Economics, after the initial tip from the WSJ Energy Headsup.

Other Supreme Court News:
Court rejects appeal from woman who claims James Brown raped her. (No HT to the WSJ, it's parent Dow Jones and Company, any affiliates or subsidiaries.)

Dynegy: Carbon Risk Accompanies LS Power Merger

That's the title of Innovest's new report.

This got me to thinking how things had changed since Henry Poor was putting out his Annual Manual. More on Henry and business journalism later. This week it's the Masters. And the IPCC working group II report on Friday.