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The big chill by James Altucher from the New York Post
Sunday, October 25th 2009, 3:07 PM UTC
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Frankly, I'm scared.

In 1998 the world reached its peak temperatures, according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and ever since its been downhill. The world is going through a Global Cooling period.

According to NASA, the snow-ice cover of Antarctica has actually been increasing over the past several decades. It's worth noting that Nashville, the hometown of Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, last year had its lowest temperatures on record since 1877 -- and Manhattan just had its coolest summer since 1958.

Does this mean that all the efforts to prevent Global Warming have actually worked? Are carbon emissions down? Not at all -- in fact, carbon emissions are up about 6 percent since 1998. There doesn't appear to be any provable link between carbon emissions and global temperatures.

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Among the possible theories is that the Earth has natural cycles and that we go back and forth between warming periods and cooling periods. Another theory is that the climate cycles of the Earth are dependent on sun-spot activity, which has been at its lowest level in decades and scientists estimate will continue to decline over the next century.

What does this mean for investors?

First, panicked attempts to find alternative energies that require government subsidies to make them succeed are long-term losers. The solar industry, as noble as it is to find a source of power that draws its energy from the ultimate source of power, is just not workable right now.

The only way in which it's cost-effective to solar power your home -- or any building for that matter -- is if there's no cap to the amount of government subsidies a country provides.

Spain tried to do a no-cap subsidy for solar and it failed -- solar revenues dropped 80 percent the year after they removed their no-cap subsidy. Germany, which generates 60 percent of the revenues of a company like First Solar, for instance, is also considering dropping their no-cap subsidy. Germany is the reason the solar industry exists right now as it's the only country with a no-cap subsidy. Once the subsidies go away, the industry will go away.

Does this mean that we should give up hope on alternative energy? No, but let's not use Global Warming as a crutch. Instead, it's time to figure out what works and what's cheap.

Ethanol, while clean, requires too much acreage to satisfy the US's electric needs. Wind has similar issues. Nuclear, which provides almost 80 percent of France's electricity -- and significantly high percentages in most of Europe and Asia -- could be the cheapest and cleanest source of power. It's thriving because it's cheap: 1.82 cents per kilowatt-hour versus 2.13 cents for coal-fired plants and 3.69 cents for natural gas.

We can argue until we're blue in the face about the safety of nuclear but there's hundreds of reactors being built worldwide to satisfy our needs and the technology has improved to be considerably safe and efficient.

You don't have to invest in nuclear power to benefit from this. There's a backdoor, eco-friendly way into the space: American Ecology (ECOL) is a 57-year-old company that disposes of radioactive waste.

It trades for just nine times EBITDA, earnings are expected to grow 20 percent over the next year and there are huge barriers to entry -- not everyone can start a company that cleans up spent fuel rods at nuclear facilities. This company is like the Starbucks of radioactive garbage. The company has also entered into the business of recycling oil waste, making it a potential play on an increasing price in oil.

It's eco-friendly, solves a major problem in the world, and you don't need to buy into the hype about global warming to make money off of this play. And, to make life more comfortable, buy yourself a warm coat. This winter is expected to be a cold one. James Altucher is managing director of Formula Capital
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