Barry Ritholtz – Global Warming Battle is Over Market Share, Not Science

Barry Ritholtz’s The Big PIcture Blog is terrific. He’s an investor and finance guy who explains economic issues in approachable terms. He also writes for Bloomberg and makes frequent appearances on Stand Up With Pete Dominick on Sirius 104 to talk about economic issues. 

His very realistic approach to the climate change issue is thus:

My perspective on global warming is different from some. As a car and boat enthusiast, the various gasoline-powered vehicles I own crank out a few thousand horsepower and generate a not-insignificant amount of pollution. However, I don’t pretend climate change is a hoax or that it won’t matter in the future. So long as creating pollution is cheap and legal, we won’t see many people changing personal behavior. The most likely fix for this is some form of a carbon tax.

To Ritholtz the scientific debate is over. What remains is the debate about how we’ll remediate and to a very large degree who will win the jockeying for “market share” and who will adapt and invest or disinvest wisely. Unfortunately, our best hopes for coming up with a plan that’s politically viable is for business interests other than oil and coal to decide what’s in their best interest and influence legislation. Make no mistake they will be doing it to bolster their bottom line firstly, and to save mankind secondly. 

Business and the military have been modeling potential global climate change scenarios for years. They’re well ahead of the stupid political debate where one side calls it a hoax and nothing gets done.

Investors should be considering this as a fight over market share, not a scientific debate. That is the approach taken by McKenzie Funk in a new book, Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming. The impact is across many industries. It’s time to throw out your preconceptions of climate change as a fight between green hippies and Big Oil. This is far broader and more complex. And it goes far beyond energy, to include agriculture, insurance, transportation, construction, recreation, real estate, energy exploration, food production, health care minerals and even finance.

The right has to come to reality and stop science denial. The left has to realize that short of getting money out of politics and fearlessly enacting real change like a carbon tax, our real allies in this fight are our natural “enemies” of industry and the military. We will have to work with them to move the GOP and the public towards a consensus for reasonable action.

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