If Global-Warming Fears Die, These Companies Win

TheStreet.com

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report is near release and based on leaks, proponents and skeptics alike will find plenty to talk about.

It appears new climate model adjustments are needed, and despite reported carbon increases, we may not be warming as quickly as some predicted.

Maybe the days of anthropogenic global warming (global warming caused by people) will pass into history like fears of a coming ice age did when I was young. The stakes are high for both sides of the AGW issue, and you can expect the spin masters to be working overtime as soon as the report is released.

As a husband and father of three young boys, I care what's in and what's not in the report, maybe now more than ever. It's fair to say I spend more time thinking about them than I do about myself. I care about the world they will live in and the opportunities they will have available.

I care about what they eat and drink; and I take the time to read packages and learn as much as I can about packaged foods and making healthy choices. I'm amazed at how many products have sugar in them. Amazed might not be the correct description -- frustrated is closer to the mark.

I also worry about the air my family breathes. Most people breathe air that is made up of about 20% oxygen, and I know from experience it only takes a slight decrease to cause rapid breathing, even when sitting. Nitrogen makes up about 78%, and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) makes up about .0038%. In Hawaii, it appears they have recorded CO2 levels above .004%.

According to some, if the CO2 level moves from .004 to say .005% to .006%, the planet will not be able to self correct and life as we know it will end. Floods, droughts, gigantic and destructive storms, mass starvation, and the world would become a generally unpleasant place to be. Well, expect for Wisconsin, as I noticed by looking at the models. Wisconsin's winters become rather mild, with increased growing seasons.

Most, but not all, science information states that CO2 rates are climbing from historical standards, and while CO2 isn't considered the most "greenhouse" of the greenhouse gasses, it's the one most vilified by climatologists.

There are several stocks that stand to gain a lot of ground if CO2 is replaced as the primary driver of AWG and or climate change in general. On the last page of this article, I will cover the stocks you want to look at if carbon suddenly isn't so evil anymore.

First, let's discuss why you should do your due diligence and be skeptical of alarmists and others after the report. And yes, I will show data to back up my position.

I'm skeptical about most things, and it serves me well in the world of finance. I look at company filings, press releases and analysts with a critical eye, and especially at stocks that have gained more enthusiasm than substance.

Being skeptical is a exceptionally smart thing as long as you don't go "over the edge". It's not easy to be skeptical when you listen to NPR, and the speakers are claiming a consensus of scientists and the IPCC claims there is over a 90% confidence level that humans are more or less destroying the atmosphere.

Some skeptics would make a better argument if they just didn't write or say anything, but allow me to take a step back to when this issue actually caught my attention.

Like many people I have talked to, the global warming issue wasn't something I gave a lot of thought to until I watched the video "An Inconvenient Truth", but unlike many people, I saw through the obvious emotional exploitation of using Al Gore's son and sister. But hey, it's not science class, and I know people make decisions based on emotion and justify them with logic, not the other way around, so I let that go.

What did bother me were claims that 10 of the last 14 years were the hottest in history. Actually he said something closer to "...hottest in recorded history," and it was at that point I knew everything stated became suspect.

During January, the same area I plow snow off my driveway was a tropical swamp in times past. Because the area I live in was once much warmer than now, we have two problems in the video.

The first is obvious, that starting and or ending points are cherry picked to make the global warming case, and if not, the sample size is too small. We see the same in finance, especially brochures for mutual funds touting their five-year performances and claims of stability.

Often the dates used to advertise impressive results/stability are not the starting dates, but rather dates that give the impression the fund has a much stronger history than if they use the fund's starting date. Using ice-core samples, we can go back a long time, so why only use a relatively short recent time frame? Remember this image? It's received a lot of press.

Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press.

This graph is the famous hockey stick from previous IPCC Assessments. The graph is controversial because some claim the graph has defects in math, data, mythology used, and or calculations. Apparently, the most significant issues include "Climate Gate" (climatologists' emails hacked and released), the Little Ice Age (which brought us Stradivarius violins), and the medieval warm period (allowed Vikings to settle in Greenland for a short period of time). If adjusted for those periods, based on skeptics, the graph changes significantly. It's rumored, based on leaks, this graph may not be included in the upcoming IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

But let's give the benefit of the doubt and say it's totally accurate; we still have a problem because the sample size is too small. Looking at our planet's temperature for only a couple thousand years is no different. There's the same reason we don't try to calculate support and resistance levels using 5-minute intraday bars on an investment you intend to hold for years.

We have available an exceptionally easy sample size solution, and being from Wisconsin, it's one I'm highly familiar with, Ice. Scientists also use ice-core samples to estimate historical global temperatures. When viewing as little as 2000 years of data (a microscopic blink in time against the backdrop of humans occupying earth for over 100K years), it becomes clear the only thing that doesn't change is our climate changes, with or without your Chevy running.

It's not as if this information is a secret and by Googling "Ice cap global temperatures" you can review all the government data you want along with many graphs. Some show greater variations and some not as much, but the above graph is a fair representation and takes the "hockey" out of stick.

Another reason to doubt alarmists is, they have a dog in the fight. Many of the AGW critics are funded by industries negatively impacted from carbon taxes and greater regulation, and many of the most vocal alarmists depend on AGW for funding, influence and fame. If AGW becomes unimportant, a lot of scientists and activists will suddenly find themselves looking for a new line of work. For both sides of the argument, follow the money.

The AGW alarmists have been at it long enough to show a record of getting it wrong. When the IPCC issues the next report, expect a lot of backpedaling from previous scares. The models are wrong (once again), and now X amount of carbon isn't nearly as nefarious as thought of just a few years ago.

Finally, the reason that matters to me as a father, the weather and degree of storms isn't any worse now than expected without AGW. Every time a newsworthy storm hits, we receive a second storm of talking heads telling us it's from AGW. It's as if we didn't have storms before we flipped on a light switch.

Again, it comes down to sample sizes and understanding you can't isolate one extreme and rare storm and reasonably draw conclusions from it. In a nutshell, the sky certainly isn't falling, and violent tornadoes, snow fall, Tropical Storms, and hurricanes are not increasing in frequency or intensity during the long-term average.

I'm sure there will be plenty for proponents and skeptics alike in the latest IPCC report and the next. At the end of the day, if the vilification of carbon is lost, many stocks will win. Coal-related companies are expected winners including Alpha Natural Resources , Walter Energy , Arch Coal , Peabody Energy and James River Coal . Other winners include power companies that sell electric power including Xcel Energy , Duke Energy , Southern Company , American Electric Power .

Finally, companies that consume large amounts of electricity relative to their revenue and income include Alcoa , Amazon and indirectly through Amazon, Netflix .

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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