Tag Archives: Climate Change

Energy Future

As Monty Python would say ‘and now for something completely different…’ and we delve into the energy future. Our focus tends to be retirement security and how to attain it. Periodically it is impossible to avoid the maelstrom that is DC politics. Energy, however, is an entirely new subject. What, you may ask, prompts this diversion? Today I heard a comment that ‘there is plenty of opportunity in oil & gas because those investors fear $30 oil.’ While you may feel I have some credibility when it comes to retirement, why think the same for a look at energy? Many of you know I spent several years in GE Power Systems, close at hand with both the power generation business and the oil & gas business. Devising strategies, leading businesses and spearheading the quality organization all brought a keen understanding of the marketplace and a sustained interest in its development. What I hope today is to bring you an overview of the technological playing field, particularly with alternatives … to answer the question, why the comment about oil & gas? One thing is certain, oil & gas (and coal) are not going away any time soon. Read on to become a smarter energy consumer.

Energy Future: First, where are we today?
In the perfect world, we would run on ‘clean’ power and ‘renewable’ energy. Imagine zero CO2 emission power sources. We actually have some forms of power like this already, right? Long ago we had hydro power running grain mills (why do you suppose Minneapolis is there?) and wind power doing all sorts of things (Dutch windmills, right?). More recently you have solar and nuclear, even baby steps on tidal power. Yet while there continues to be big emphasis on these technologies, each has distinct drawbacks, too. Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy Technologies

Energy Future: Hydro
Hydropower Hydropower Technology and Types of Hydroelectric Power Plants Hydrokinetic Energy Alaska Hydrokinetic Energy Research Center Hydrokinetics Comes to the Forefront

Energy Future: Wind
Wind Power Unsustainable: 43 Million Tonnes of Wind Turbine Blade Waste by 2050 Why offshore wind turbines can’t handle the toughest hurricanes

Energy Future: Solar
Solar Energy Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think Environmental Impacts of Solar Power How Green are Those Solar Panels, Really?

Energy Future: Nuclear
Nuclear Energy Union of Concerned Scientists: Nuclear Power Safety First Can Nuclear Power Rise from the Chaos in Washington? Pros and Cons of Nuclear Power Nuclear Power Safety Concerns

Energy Future: Is there a better way?
The one unconquered field of power generation is fusion power. Quite simply replicating the sun’s approach in an Earthbound plant. Why is this better? Because there are no emissions, no waste, and no risk of a runaway process. Not just that, but no apparent side-effects. Presumably that was said about all the other clean energy, too, but it seems promising. Deceleration of runaway electrons paves the way for fusion power A new twist on fusion power could help bring limitless clean energy Fusion power could be here in less than a decade

Adieu Paris

Like so many weeks before, last week gave us Adieu Paris from the always unpredictable White House. Unfortunately, it is far more complex than either the press or the President would have you believe. I recall thinking that the deal was not so great because there are self-selected standards, self-defined reporting and no teeth. While you tend to see gloom and doom reporting, it likely is not that simple. Just to feel better about this I managed to scour up some more even-handed reporting. Whether you think this is apocalyptic or a nonevent, have a look.

Don’t Cry for the Paris Agreement

The Plain Truth About the Climate Accord

Game Theory and Trump’s Climate Negotiations

Adieu Paris: So, what should you be doing about climate change?
That is a really good question, and I am pretty certain complaining on Facebook is not high on the list. The sure thing you can do is change your own behavior. Buy a high mileage car, don’t run the central air, walk more, those kinds of things. After that, probably engage locally, encouraging similar behavior in your own community. Then you start getting to lobbying your elected officials, local, state and Federal, to take meaningful action. Did you read those articles? What do you think of the CAFE standards? Should that process be changed? Tell your Congressional representatives and get your friends to do the same. Find discrete, actionable causes and advocate for them. Then you might actually make a difference. Venting on Facebook, not so much.

Adieu Paris: What else should you be doing? Like always, focus on what you actually control!
That is right, here we are right back to your retirement planning. Fact is our sudden obsession with what is wrong with DC is great, but it likely will not change a thing. Spending half as much time on your retirement will make a world of difference to you  think about it. Since I am pretty sure I have about exhausted your interest level, just a couple of things to make you think.

The Chart You Must See to Understand the Widespread Risk in the S&P 500 Today

Homeland secretary: People would ‘never leave the house’ if they knew what I knew

21 Informative Maps That Will Change Your Worldview

30 Mind Blowing Facts That are Actually True

Challenging Markets

Challenging markets are the time when you need a plan and you need to stick with it.
Even when facing challenging markets, plans need not be overly complicated. Here is an interesting analysis of a very simple plan, invest $100 a week into the S&P Index. Just look how it works. Zero Effort Retirement: 20 Years Dollar Cost Averaging Into the S&P 500
I would argue that annuities are a good component of a retirement plan – you can forget about challenging markets entirely! Just which kind is right for you, that’s a specific question for you and your advisor. What we do know is that the vast majority of Americans have a pretty decent chance of running out of savings in retirement. That is why I am a big fan of Deferred Income Annuities, or QLACs inside of qualified plans, because they give you a safety net beyond your comfort zone. Deferred income annuities can double payouts later in life
Now, if you are very conservative, or simply do not trust your instincts, willpower, or what have you, there is always the option to go with an Immediate Annuity. Here your income stream starts right away, and it is, in fact, comparable to an old school pension, i.e. you know what you will get for as long as you live. Interestingly enough, if you did a good job saving for retirement, you could patch together a term certain immediate annuity (that is a set payment for a set period, say 20 years) and a deferred income annuity (set to start in 20 years). You might still have some mad money left to enjoy right away. 3 Things to Know About Immediate Annuities
Just so you do not come away with the belief that dividend stocks, even dividend stars, are a panacea, this article does some back testing of that argument. The Fate of These 49 ‘Dividend Aristocrats’ of the Early 1990’s May Give You Nightmares
No matter your approach, this article is a good read because times like these present tempting ‘opportunities’ to make a quick buck. The Difference Between Investing and Speculating

I hope that provided a lot of good food for thought on your retirement. Now, let’s turn our attention to other, interesting things floating out there in the worldwide web.
Climate change, is this our fault, or does it just happen every so often? That’s the kind of conversation I avoid. I have never professed to be a climatologist, and question anyone I know who does. Still, certain datapoints make you think hard about just what is happening and what we stand to lose. If You’re Not Terrified by Climate Change, Just Consider the Great Barrier Reef
Similarly, I try not to get involved in the DOD/VA issues, but this article really got me steamed. Thousands of US veterans are sick and dying because of burning garbage

 

I simply cannot leave on a sour note like that, so let’s get some positive news, too.
I made the tactical error of mentioning this article when I found it on Valentine’s Day. A mining company found a 400-carat diamond and now its shares are going wild
These geniuses didn’t know when to stop. 16 Inventors who were killed by their own inventions
Everyone can use some help with their iPhone (especially the FBI, it seems). 25 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do