Posts tagged “Al Gore”
In their Wall St. Journal op-ed this week, Al Gore and one of his business partners characterize the current market for investments in oil, gas and coal as an asset bubble. They also offer investors some advice for quantifying and managing the risks associated with such a bubble. Their article is timely, because I have been seeing references to this concept with increasing frequency, including a recent article in the Financial Times, as well as in the growing literature around sustainability investing.
Although bubbles are best seen in retrospect, investors should always be alert to the potential, particularly after our experience just a few years ago. In this case, however, I see good reasons to believe that the case for a “carbon asset bubble” has been overstated and applied too broadly. The following five myths represent particular vulnerabilities for this notion:
1. The Quantity of Carbon That Can Be Burned Is Known Precisely
Mr. Gore is careful to differentiate uncertainties from risks, which he distinguishes for their amenability to quantification. For quantifying the climate risk to carbon-heavy assets, he refers to the widely cited 2°C threshold for irreversible damage from climate change, and to the resulting “carbon budget” determined by the International Energy Agency. As Mr. Gore interprets it, “at least two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves will not be monetized if we are to stay below 2° of warming.” That would have serious consequences for investors in oil, gas and coal.
Oil Money is Bad Money, Except When…
Al Gore has just released a new book — The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change — and is on a media tour to promote it. But he has had to face some very uncomfortable questions involving a charge that has been around for a while: That Al Gore is a hypocrite.
The hypocrisy charge has been raised against Gore over the years. Until now, the most infamous incident of apparent hypocrisy took place in 2007 when it was widely reported that Al Gore’s mansion had a utility bill about 20 times more than the average family home. (See Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’? — A $30,000 Utility Bill). I found the news troubling; after all Gore was the Conservationist-in-Chief but he certainly didn’t appear to be walking his talk.
But I also wrote that if he was running a staff out of his home, then the higher electric bills were more understandable. I also learned at the time just how rabidly partisan people can be when discussing Gore. Some on the left would not tolerate criticism of Gore, and I was vilified for saying that I was disappointed in his behavior.
But, I really wanted to like Al Gore. I thought of him as someone who was making a positive impact by calling attention to a serious problem, and getting people to conserve. I defended him when people noted that Gore traveled around the world in fossil-fueled jets. After all, I argued, if he traveled halfway around the world but convinced 500 people in a foreign country to become involved and take action, then the net impact could easily be lower carbon emissions as a result of his travels.
An Energy Epiphany I have often thought that if all domestic oil production and refining ceased in this country for a month, we would see an energy epiphany in the U.S. the likes of which we have never seen. Such an event would really drive home our dependence on petroleum products. In fact, this essay started as an introduction to a book review I am writing on Amanda Little’s book Power Trip: The Story of America’s Love Affair with Energy. The book described Little as an award winning columnist on green politics. Prior to writing Power Trip, her views on the energy industry were typical of those of most liberal environmentalists. But her eyes were opened wide during the major… Continue»
First, thanks to all who contributed ideas. You may have an entirely different opinion on the most important energy stories. Feel free to share it. Many of these stories were contributed by various readers. Comments by readers are italicized. If you want to know who wrote what, you can see the entire comment thread here. Here are my Top 10 Energy Stories of 2007 1. Oil price soars as media becomes Peak Oil aware One reason I felt pretty safe in making the $1,000 bet on oil prices is that a move from $60 – the price in January – to $100 – the price at which I would lose the bet – would be unprecedented. Of course a worldwide… Continue»
Better late than never: Gore makes Nashville home more ‘green’ NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Al Gore, who was criticized for high electric bills at his Tennessee mansion, has completed a host of improvements to make the home more energy efficient, and a building-industry group has praised the house as one of the nation’s most environmentally friendly. The former vice president has installed solar panels, a rainwater-collection system and geothermal heating. He also replaced all incandescent lights with compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode bulbs — even on his Christmas tree. “One of the things that is tremendously powerful about what the Gores have done is demonstrate that you can take a home that was a dog, an absolute energy pig, and… Continue»
Because I gave Al Gore such a hard time over his electric bill, I thought I would mention this story. Gore is in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Price, and he took public transportation from the airport: Gore in Norway to get Nobel Peace Prize OSLO, Norway – Former Vice President Al Gore arrived in Oslo on Friday to accept the Nobel Peace Prize he shared for the campaign against global warming, and shunned the traditional airport motorcade in favor of climate-friendly public transport. Before his arrival with his wife Tipper, Gore informed his hosts that he would not need the traditional motorcade from the airport, preferring to take the high-speed and environmentally friendly airport train and then walking… Continue»
A popular newspaper in Scotland, The Scotsman, has detailed what it will take for Britain to be carbon neutral within 20 years. I have said before that despite Al Gore’s pleas, despite the awareness and scientific consensus on Global Warming, I do not see the world becoming carbon neutral as long as there are fossil fuels left to burn. Some highlights from the article drive that point home: Green Future Demands a Radical Shift in Lifestyles for British Meat-free menus, battery-operated cars and an end to affordable flights. These are among the radical visions outlined in a report which says Britain could be carbon neutral within 20 years – but only if major steps are taken to change our lifestyles…. Continue»
Wow. Quite an interesting group of visitors I had here yesterday. The CIA. The U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives. Argonne. NREL. Oak Ridge. And that was just before lunch. (You can click on the Site Meter at the bottom of the page to see details on the most recent 100 visitors). I usually get some visitors from various branches of government every day, but I have never seen quite so many in such a short period of time. I guess that’s what happens when the subject matter is political. The recent reports on Al Gore’s energy consumption are definitely polarizing. The reactions from both sides typified what I hate so much about politics. The Right naturally vilified him. I… Continue»
On the subject of energy policy, it often seems that hypocrisy and politics go hand in hand. The message is often “Do as I say, and not as I do.” I have addressed the hypocrisy of certain politicians on several occasions; like here, here, and here. And when I do so, I try not to preferentially attack a particular party. To be honest, I don’t think either major party has demonstrated that they have a good plan or the courage needed for dealing with energy issues. For the Republicans, the answer seems to be to drill in ANWR, or for more offshore drilling. For the Democrats, the solution seems to be to pander to the public by threatening to punish… Continue»
Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my friend and first real Peak Oil influence, Dr. Jerry Unruh. Jerry and I did a bit of mountain climbing, some snowshoeing, watched An Inconvenient Truth (I also read the book while I was there) and spent a lot of time talking about Peak Oil, Global Warming, sustainability, and many other topics. I took a lot of notes as we talked, because we hit on many topics that are often discussed here and at The Oil Drum. First of all, let me introduce Jerry. He is a Ph.D. chemist that I met 11 years ago when we both worked on butanol research and technical support for Celanese Chemicals. While I was certainly… Continue»