In the Mind of a Climate Skeptic

This is going to be a very unpopular post amongst many of my friends and family. But please bear with me. I am absolutely open to continued, productive, positive dialogue. My opinion is absolutely subject to change, if presented with pertinent information that I’ve not seen before.

I used to be a Global Warmist. In 2006, Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” presented a very convincing case for man’s effect on the climate and the disasters that lay ahead if we don’t change.

Around this same time, I moved to Los Angeles. The smog seen when you look at the hills or at the city from afar is disgusting. I then discovered research papers hypothesizing the correlation of air pollution to asthma.

So, while my opinions on man-made climate change have shifted, I am absolutely on-board with Clean Air initiatives, so I remain directionally-aligned with Global Warmists.

Where I and the Global Warmists diverge is on the solution and this is really the key to everything. I (currently) do NOT believe that we are on a devastating trajectory course for Earth, as indicated by the latest reports highlighted in the mainstream media (MSM). I don’t think we should be applying huge carbon taxes on businesses (which will ultimately hit us, the consumers) and providing Governments with more money to waste.

At the very least, based on the science that I’ve come across, I’d like to see us wait a couple more years before doing anything drastic. I will lay out my thinking in this post.

For a cliff notes version, this is a great summary of a perspective that I agree with: https://youtu.be/pBbvehbomrY. This video clip is of Professor Jordan Peterson’s response to a question about the potential for climate change to be a humanity-uniting issue. Short answer (para-phrased): “No. It’s a complicated issue and there are higher priority problems to solve.”

Look, we’ve all heard the line: “97% of Scientists agree…”. That line has been over-used and over-loaded. Some media and personalities often omit the word “Climate”; I believe it’s supposed to be: “97% of Climate Scientists agree…”. And agree on what exactly? That man-made has an effect at all? Or that man has created and is the cause global warming?

My skepticism changed very slowly over time and I didn’t actually cross the line to full-blown skepticism until this year (2018).

It all started…

Back in 2011, I was at a neighbor’s bbq and I met a Geology professor at a local college or university. Somehow the topic of global warming came up and this professor was very adamant that global warming was a big crock. I was flabbergasted. I was blown away that a highly-educated person and someone in his position would think this. But honestly, I had no ground to stand on. I could not combat any argument intelligently; I only knew what I’ve heard from MSM and Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”.

Also, I’d been reading ZeroHedge for a while now. It started as a financial blog in 2009, really writing about all the wrong-doings of Wall Street and how they caused the financial crisis. So, the view points are definitely anti-establishment. It’s branched out over time into politics and what not. It’s now more of a content curation or blog aggregator site, but it maintains it’s anti-establishment roots. This is where I found Martin Armstrong.

I started to follow Martin Armstrong for his economic forecasts. He has developed a computer algorithm that is widely sought after and he supposedly advises multiple foreign central banks. Full disclosure, he’s definitely right-leaning and anti-establishment, politically. His algorithms predict economic cycles. His models suggest that we are actually entering an economic downturn in correlation with a Global Cooling period. [Note, if you read his stuff, don’t conflate economic downturn with stock market prices.] In any case, since he opposes the Global Warming view, against the mainstream, he shares research that he comes across to debunk the MSM narrative.

I’m still a Global Warmist at this point.

Then in 2015, Scott Adams enters my life. I’ve been a Dilbert comic reader for a long time. In August 2015, Scott Adams wrote two prescient blog posts: https://blog.dilbert.com/2015/08/05/how-trump-becomes-president/ and https://blog.dilbert.com/2015/08/13/clown-genius/.

On November 8, 2016 Scott Adam’s credibility shot through the roof!

Scott Adams clearly sees things that others cannot. This guy is worth paying more attention to. Here are his collection of blog posts about climate change: https://blog.dilbert.com/tag/climate-change/. What Scott Adams introduced me to was doubt; doubt in the validity of the models that climate scientists use.

Okay, so Scott Adams has cracked open my curiosity and has me questioning my views about Global Warming and man’s cause/effect. So I start to researching opposing views. What science are the climate skeptics looking at?

I’m no scientist and I can’t pretend to understand half of what all these folks (on both sides) say. BUT, the pattern that I noticed is that the scientists who OPPOSE Global Warming were not Climate Scientists, but they were Geologists, Physicists, Mathematicians; i.e., Scientists from other fields! Hmm, remember the Geology professor from 2011?

Is it possible, that we (humans) are just a tiny part of a much larger system? Is it possible that Climate Scientists have personal gain by being a Global Warmist (or avoidance of personal shame)? The Earth and its climate have been changing for millions of years. You know, plate tectonics and the ice age, kind of thing…

I believe (and please fact check me here) that the primary models that climate scientists use a wide variety of measurements from Earth (surface temp, ocean temp, volume/thickness of ice, etc). But they incorporate into their models, the greatest energy input parameter, the Sun. Hmmm… [More on this below]

Are Climate Scientists simply tuning their models to fit their desired narrative. See “The Art and Science of Climate Model Tuning“.

In this article: “U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked”.

A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.

Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ″eco- refugees,′ ′ threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.

He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.

This was published in 1989! That model clearly failed.

As recently as October, IPCC published a report and CNN’s reporting (and all other MSM, to be fair) of it is eerily similar to the article from 1989: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/07/world/climate-change-new-ipcc-report-wxc/index.html.

The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

A month later, the entire study was debunked. The model had math errors and the authors admit it renders the model useless as the margin of error is too big. This is exactly what Jordan Peterson eludes to in the video above (as you extrapolate the models into the future, the margin bars become too big). Of course, you really didn’t hear about this news in the MSM.

Even more recently, which again garnered the attention of MSM, the US Government (U.S. Global Change Research Program) issued a similar report. In this report, they project out to the end of the century. That’s 80 years! Firstly, this is assuming 0 innovations in technology. The odds of that are 0%. That alone debunks this report. Secondly, it suggests a drop of 10% in GDP. This sounds scary until logic kicks in: US GDP per capita is projected to triple by the end of the century, so 10% reduction from an economy 3x the size of today isn’t so alarming.

Okay, but what about the opposing science?

I really like the Sun Spot theory. This is a great video explaining it: https://youtu.be/M_yqIj38UmY. This hypothesizes that the sun plays a greater role in Earth’s climate than anything. And it’s a cyclical occurrence, and hence, predictable. Professor Valentina Zharkova (Prof of Mathematics) is predicting that we’re entering a Global Cooling period with an upcoming grand minimum between 2020-2055.

Let me repeat: An upcoming Global Cooling period.

NASA research corroborates this theory. A NASA researcher predicts a global cooling period is upon us: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/nov/19/editorial-a-quiet-solar-period-may-be-just-the-thi/

“High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy,” says Martin Mlynczak, a scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center. “If current trends continue, it could soon set a space age record for cold.”

Remember, Martin Armstrong, through a completely different model — an economic model — predicts Global Cooling in roughly the same period. His historical research correlates major economic downturns with cooling periods.

Doesn’t this speak volumes that 3 individuals looking at something from completely different angles reach a very similar conclusion?

The good news about this theory is that we will know whether this is valid or not within the next few years. I will be watching!

So, let’s not act so fast and take drastic measures to tax ourselves for something that isn’t definitive.

Besides, when it comes to clear air, we’re on the right track (the US at least): https://solarindustrymag.com/global-carbon-emissions-rose-last-year-but-not-in-the-u-s/.

What do you think? Am I crazy?!

Quora: What small thing can each individual do every day to help shrink the wealth gap?

https://www.quora.com/What-small-thing-can-each-individual-do-every-day-to-help-shrink-the-wealth-gap/answer/Kerry-Hew

Figure out ways to own strong, appreciating, assets.

If you don’t own any assets and you just earn your salary and save your money. You strive for a certain percentage raise per year. Well, so does your boss and bosses boss and so on. They make more than you, so as time goes on, their dollar value increases faster than yours and the gap grows in perpetuity.

Another thing you can do, and many may not want to hear this — and I hate to get political — but perhaps something would be to get involved with politics and embrace capitalism. True Capitalism, that is.

To make myself clear, we do NOT have proper capitalism today. If we had true capitalism, the banks would have been allowed to fail and go bankrupt in 2008 during the GFC. Yes, it would have hurt, but we would have come out the other side stronger, with smarter institutions (in my opinion). Iceland was the model to follow.

But with true capitalism and limited regulations, it would provide more opportunity for the little guys to start their own companies, create more competition, and bridge the gap.

[Gee, for a self-proclaimed independent, I sure sound Republican, huh? To be clear, Establishment Republicans today aren’t real Republicans. And we definitely need some regulations in place and some social services. But enough of that political jibjab.]

Business ownership is the ONLY way to close the gap. If you have more businesses, it’s more competition, each business makes a little less money, and the gap closes. And again, the way to create more businesses is to remove as many barriers as possible to start new businesses. Case in point, look at what Amazon AWS service has done for the software industry. Million-Dollar, even billion-dollar businesses have started with an Amazon account and a credit card.

And to be clear, buying shares or acquiring equity in a business is a form of business ownership. I’ll even posit here that real estate is a form of business (it’s an asset, anyway).

 

WSJ: In this Economy, Quitters are Winning

[LinkedIn Post]

Commentary on this article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-this-economy-quitters-are-winning-1530702001

Don’t read this if you’re happy in you’re current role! The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Be thankful you’re happy. BUT…

If you aren’t happy, do something about it! Life is short; don’t waste time that you can’t get back. This is as good an economy as it gets. I love working, but I know I’m not normal.

If working is miserable to you, in general, at least be miserable with 30% more dollars in your pocket! 🙂

I know loads of folks hiring in digital analytics and data science. Demand is larger than Supply.

I also know individuals that are looking (secretly) and I’m happy to match where I can. I’m here to help. Society is better when ppl are happy.

 

More Big Retails Closing Stores

https://www.foxbusiness.com/features/retail-apocalypse-23-big-retailers-closing-stores

Amazon is buying physical (Whole Foods Market), partnering with physical (Kohl’s), and building physical (AmazonGo) while traditional retailers shrink.

Right-sizing for the changing consumer behavior and adjusting the business to market conditions are part of business. 

There are some great brands on this list. Are they shrinking physical and ramping digital to fight back? Are they thinking about total Customer Experience?

I love American Apparel clothes and used to buy a lot from them. But I haven’t bought anything from them in many years. They’ve done a poor job of nurturing our relationship and I’ve moved on.

Maybe Toys ‘R’ Us should go all digital, create a toys-only marketplace online, and adopt “seasonal store” model, like Spirit Halloween.

Amazon is fantastic and has certainly changed my consumer behaviors. But they are not the end-all-be-all of retail. Companies that invest in the right areas and leverage their existing assets well, still have a great opportunity to thrive.

Starting to Re-Think About Climate Change

Make no mistake, I believe that air quality can have a significant impact on health and quality of life. The smog that hovers over major cities is disgusting. I hate that I cannot see the hills around me when I know they’re there. Seeing glimpses of the smog in Beijing during the olympics was terrible.

Population health. Should that be the primary driver to force environmental change?

Cars drive on an eight lane expressway in Beijing on January 29,2013. Residents across northern China battled through choking pollution on January 29, as air quality levels rose above index limits in Beijing amid warnings that the smog may not clear until January 31. AFP PHOTO / WANG ZHAO

The reason climate change, and mainly, the effects that humans have on climate change has come to mind is because of this recent Bloomberg article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-09/climate-change-just-got-a-little-less-terrible

In a nutshell, when 97% of scientists agree that global warming is bad and needs to be avoided at all costs, the models they are (often) agreeing to are the worst-case scenarios. And what this article exposes is that the media touts the worst-case scenarios of these scientific papers to hype an alarming message, but the models used to forecast the worst-case scenarios are very, very, very unlikely! (Dare I say, impossible)

For example, in the worst-case scenario of the paper highlighted in the article, the amount of coal burning assumed is that there’s probably not enough extractable coal to make the scenario possible.

Again, let me state for the record: I want clean air!

Other factors that give me pause in the whole global warming debate is that there are a few folks that I follow whose opinions do weigh heavily with me. Most notably, these are Martin Armstrong and Scott Adams.

I encourage you to peruse through these links:

  • https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/tag/climate-change/
  • https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/tag/global-warming/
  • https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/?s=nasa
  • http://blog.dilbert.com/tag/climate-change/

Martin Armstrong actually points to evidence (research by NASA) that suggests we’re actually entering into a Global COOLING cycle.

Scott Adams provides an interesting perspective on when to trust “the experts”.

Last, but not least, there are multiple points in my life where I’ve met university professors and they were adamant about global warming being a hoax.

Everyone has an agenda. I just want clean air.

Silicon Valley is Losing her Luster

According to The Kaufman Foundation 2017 Startup Activity report, SF & San Jose slipped several spots. Cities such as Miami, Austin, and Los Angeles are moving up. St. Louis, Cincinnati and San Antonio are cities that jumped up the most.

Silicon Valley will always be Silicon Valley. It is la creme de la creme. But it makes perfect sense, and is good overall, for entrepreneurship to extend beyond the valley.

The greatest concentration of engineers is in the valley. The greatest concentration of venture money is in the valley. But if I’m starting a new company, I wouldn’t start it in SF; it’s just too darn expensive.

We used to live up in SF area and we have a strong network still there. But, even if we wanted to move back, it would be extremely difficult to do (while maintaining the same lifestyle). The bang for the buck is so much better outside of the valley. As a company, I think you could attract the talent with a pretty good salary (but much less than a SV rate) and better cost-of-living. A $200K salary in the bay area is perhaps $100-120K outside, but that person can get a 3-Bdrm, 2-Bath house for $250K Vs $2M.

We’ve thought about moving out of California as well because the state taxes are ridiculous. This makes Texas and Florida very appealing (we do enjoy the sun). But alas, California weather is the best. Where else can you Snowboard and Surf on the same day?

I do like the start-up activity moving south. Los Angeles is nice, but the traffic is terrible. I’d love to see more companies moving down to Irvine. It will happen, I’m certain, the appeal is too great (think SF to San Jose). If a company is really good, the talent and money will come to it.

China Yield Curve just went Inverted

China’s 10 year just went lower than the 5 year. 

Yet another sign (and this one is a screamer) that China may be the catalyst to the coming (and long overdue) global bust. Note that this has NEVER happened in China’s history.

In the US, this has happened 7 times. And each time led to a recession.

An inverted yield curve is when the longer-term bond yields are lower than shorter-term bond yields from the same entity (E.g., Sovereign Bonds). This situation is largely seen as a predictor of a recession.

This is a pretty rare occurrence. I mean, why would you tie your money up for a longer period at a lower yield? It doesn’t make financial sense. If I’m going commit money for a longer period, naturally, you want a higher rate of return. So what this is saying is that investors are showing little confidence in the economy, such that they want their money tied up for a longer term. The alternative is taking the shorter term and having to find another parking spot when the bond matures (and presumably the economy is weaker and that same bond would be yielding an even lower rate than today).

Also, it makes banks lending tighter. They won’t borrow short-term money to lend out long-term with an inverted yield curve. Look at the drop in M2:

China WMP – Is this the Catalyst to the Coming Crash?

A Ponzi scheme is a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.

It is said that US Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Bernie Madoff was the biggest, most famous Ponzi scheme. Apparently, Chinese banks (including State-owned ones) are running Ponzi schemes.

Chinese banks are selling Wealth Management Products (WMP). These products offer ~5-8%+ of “guaranteed” returns. But these aren’t bonds. WMPs are something like the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). Guess what took down Lehman? … CDOs. :/

Look where these things invest:

Madoff was a $65B Ponzi scheme. China WMP are at $9-Trillion. Markets are as inter-connected as they’ve ever been. Once there is a failure and people start to panic and pull money out of these things, it’s over.

Apparently though, the Chinese consumers feel like their money is safe (at least the principal). The Government will bail them out, if there are any problems (like FDIC insurance, in a way).

This is why Kyle Bass has been betting against the Yuan. His theory is that the Chinese Gov’t will have to drastically devalue the Yuan to save the system. Remember, many of these are State-owned banks investing in State-owned projects.

Read more at Jim Rickard’s Daily Reckoning blog.

Could the DOW Really Double From Here?

Hedgefund manager Erik Townsend hosts a podcast called MacroVoices. This week he had Martin Armstrong on. I like to listen to podcasts at Overcast.fm because you can adjust the speed (save time).

Martin Armstrong makes his case for why the DOW could double from here, despite being already “over valued” or at elevated levels. Essentially, government debt sucks, the DOW is the best of the worst and money can/will come from all over the world.

I believe that stocks are currently overvalued and are way overdue for a crash. US GDP numbers for Q1 2017 came out at 0.7% , which means fundamentals aren’t supporting the asset prices. This makes it really, really hard to buy. But maybe another reason to buy. Usually the hardest trade is the right one.

I’m going to wait and see what happens with the government shutdown. The decision was put off a week. Also, there is the Sell in May motto. If things hold through mid-May, perhaps I’ll dip my toe into this fear trade.

 

2017 Best Jobs in America and 2017 Worst Jobs in America

Careercast.com released its annual job rankings for 2017. They rank 200 careers based on Income, Growth Outlook, Work Environment, and Stress.

It’s no surprise that the top jobs are STEM-based. I do question the algorithm. I mean, they have Computer Programmer at #49 with Projected Growth = “Very Poor”. Aerospace Engineer also gets Very Poor Projected Growth, despite defense spending continuously increasing, despite Jeff Bezos’ investment in the space, despite the future of personal flying devices and the growth of drone technologies and uses.

Yet, the Projected Growth for Hair Stylists is Good.

Also surprising are some of the jobs towards the bottom of the list. Firefighter at #193. I never met a firefighter that didn’t love their career. They love the schedule and the security (pension) and they ENJOY fighting fires.

In fact, the further I dig into this, the less I value this report. In fact, I’d say that I don’t value it much at all. But it’s still interesting to see.