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Global Cooling?

 November 22, 2009 04:20 PM

I woke up on Saturday to see the New York Times headline Hacked E-Mail Is New Fodder for Climate Dispute. The New York Times headline editor was restrained while others were far more outraged. As an example, Mish's blog stated the story as:

It's now official. Much of the hype about global warming is nothing but a complete scam.

Thanks to hackers (or an insider) who broke into The University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and downloaded 156 megaybytes of data including extremely damaging emails, we now know that data supporting the global warming thesis was completely fabricated.

He went on to detail some of the incriminating emails in his blog post about the alleged conspiracy to fudge the data. You can also see the emails here.

Sunspots and global cooling
Before the news of this hacker break-in, there had already been skepticism about the global warming thesis. I had previously speculated on this topic in a post:

What I am writing here may be sacrilege to some people. The popular consensus about Global Warming is that the Earth is undergoing a warming period caused by the effects of industrialization. However, there is another view that global warming is caused by solar activity – sunspots and solar winds.

Currently, the forecast for the latest solar cycle is that it's late. Such extended cycles have been associated with cooling periods such as the Little Ice Age experienced a few hundred years ago. Indeed, there have been reports that there is more ice in the Arctic (yes – it's only one data point) and there has been some hand wringing among the scientists about the timing of the solar cycle.

Is this theory about solar activity correct? I have no idea. I do have allow for the possibility that it is a valid one and should the Earth enter a cooling period, this would be bullish for energy demand and result in higher energy prices.

There are links between solar activity, climate and commodity prices. In 1823, William Herschel reported finding a correlation between sunspot activity and wheat prices. In June 2009, NASA announced that a Dalton Minimum is possible, which implies that world could undergo a period of cooling.

I am not investing based on global cooling as my base case, but what happens if Mr. Market decides to price in the possibility of global cooling?

What do you think that would do to energy demand if the Earth were to undergo a period of global cooling?

What are the possible effects on food production and commodity prices?

Just thinking out loud...


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