Earlier this month, the collapse of an Antarctic ice bridge precipitated a flurry of reports warning of accelerated global warming. According to Katie Couric’s Notebook, “At the North Pole, new satellite photos show Arctic ice is melting so fast, many scientists now predict it will be gone within 30 years. Some researchers think it could disappear in just six.” This sounds like serious business.
Although I am an engineer and not a businessman, I want to share an investment idea. Maybe I’d do better in business if I didn’t post my idea on a public blog, but I’m going to do it anyway. As dissent in the scientific community about impending climate change grows progressively quieter, the ways to make money off of climate change seem to be multiplying rapidly. Investment opportunities in renewable energy sources have been touted for some time and their appeal continues to grow. The green product industry is positively booming. Green cleaning solutions, eco-friendly personal care items, environmentally responsible [insert product type] products—are selling very well. All of these investment opportunities, however, are aiming at mitigating our negative environmental impact and reducing the “harm” we do. What I am proposing today is different—it’s the dark horse, the forbidden fruit of the climate change investment portfolio. Put simply, I propose investing in global disaster.
Put less simply and less dramatically, I propose investing in entities which will facilitate adaptation to a changing climate—the companies that stand to make money if global warming plays out like it’s expected to. For example, companies that will put your house on stilts if you live in a flood-prone area could become more profitable as ocean levels rise. How about emergency housing? With more powerful storms, more people can be expected to lose their permanent homes and require temporary housing. Disaster relief in general seems like a promising investment area. And the list goes on.
The most optimistic projection in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report calculates a 1.8 degree Celsius temperature rise of average global temperature within the next 90 years. Even if CO2 concentration in the atmosphere were kept at the level it was in the year 2000, significant warming is still predicted. Many see climate change as inevitable, even despite our best efforts to reduce carbon output.
Calls to ramp up adaptation measures are beginning to be heard, but I believe there’s money to be made as more and more people realize that along with our climate, our lives are going to change, and a slew of previously unneeded and unknown industries will become profitable.