Frogs - Logs - And The Stock Market

A Raymond Randall

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Last night, my daughter and I were up until 1:15AM completing a chemistry paper on the arguments for and against global warming. On our drive to school, we talked about the emotion attached to viewpoints.

Debate becomes an “all or nothing" proposition. One side must be wrong completely with ad hominem invective. Each side sustains argument with seemingly logical evidence. I suggested to Emily that we fail to find the middle ground within controversy, and we forget the commitment required for action-steps by relying on “talking points". Most of us forget that debate is not a “zero-sum game".

So what about the frogs?

Emily writes, “Global warming could possibly lead to the extinction of many species. When the climate changes drastically, many animals cannot adapt. . . species are lost forever. If global warming is not stopped, more than a million species worldwide could be extinct by 2050. . . . "

Randolph Schmid and John Heilprin in their article, “Over fishing May Harm Seafood Population" do not address global warming, but their arguments against “over fishing" are strikingly similar.

Schmid and Heilprin quote Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia who says the data about “over fishing. . . shocked and disturbed (him with). . . trends. . .beyond anything we suspected. At this point 29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed. . . their catch has declined by 90 percent. . . If the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime - by 2048. "

Notice the date? Notice the number of species lost? All consistent with the global warming argument.

So what about the logs (not the ones that float)?

Global warming logs assert that “The average global temperature has increased by about 0.5 degrees Celsius over the last century. . . over half of that increase has occurred in the last 30 years. Since 1980, the earth has experienced 19 of its 20 hottest years on record, with 1998 and 2005 tied for the hottest and 2002 and 2003 coming in second and third", Emily and I discovered during our research.

Carbon dioxide atmospheric levels have “remained constant at around 280 parts per million ("ppm"). It is now nearly 380ppm, a level the earth has not experienced for at least 400,000 years. " Hence, some assert, the rising temperature of the earth. . . is driven by the consumption of fossil fuels. " Clearly, “This rise in temperature is altering the earth's climate, which is leading to many other problems", writes Emily. We are losing entire ecological communities!

Back to frogs for a moment, “Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world's ocean, we saw the same picture emerging. In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems, " said Boris Worm.

So what about the stock market?

The stock market is about money; in fact Solomon, an ancient wise man (differs from today's “wiseacre") said, “It's ALL about money" (emphasis mine).

Whether we fish to deplete species or we pollute streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans, the results are the same. Manufacturing jobs are lost, the streams that feed economic-villages collapse, and business cycles fail where the ocean feeds cities. Solomon's aphorism applies: where there is no money, social structure crumbles, and stock markets plummet.

Not far from where I write is a popular seafood restaurant called “Woodman's". Essex has a few “Yankee Magazine" seafood restaurants where fried clams and lobster feed salivating tourists every day. Folks travel miles to stand in long lines for a clam plate with french fries or a one pound lobster with cole slaw.

Two men, I know, earn their living preparing food at one of these eateries, another man works the clam flats year-round. Whether global warming or global pollution disrupts their income, the results could devastate all of them, and our community.

Former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern was commissioned by the British Treasury to study the economics of global warming. Stern's credentials are impeccable. His rudimentary conclusions warn governments that global warming must not be debated.

Any failure of government leadership to reverse “the trends" could lead to “the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the Great Depression and the two world wars", says Britain's chief scientist, Sir David King.

This is a formidable challenge for our global political system. In a world where consensus is eschewed, collective decision-making is an obligation of every nation, tribe, and people. Will we see the collective leadership necessary to grapple with these complexities?

Recent history does not encourage us. For example, it would have cost Thirty million [US] dollars to install an early-warning system to avoid the 150,000 deaths caused by the Asian tsunami. Prior to this climatic disaster, governments would not spend it.

Next April, Emily and I will spend a week tearing-down and building-up homes in Slidell, Louisiana. (New Orleans is across the bridge. ) Original settlers built ships and manufactured bricks within a farm and timber region.

Slidell is now a bedroom community for the aerospace industry. NASA has a computer complex and test site nearby. Seafood and meat products, furniture, chemicals, boats, concrete, apparel, and machinery are all produced by Slidell's residents.

Nine major industry groups, many publicly traded companies tied together by grocery stores, barbers, doctors, and movie theatres keep this community intact. As you know, Slidell suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Corporations and governments must face tough decisions or whimper regrets to constituents. As voters, citizens, workers, and parents in our local and global economies, we are obligated to challenge our children to study, our politicians to plan, prepare, and act, while our religious leaders pray for wisdom.

Neglecting these issues imperils the hopes and lifestyle of every earthly inhabitant. Our choices may determine how many more generations enjoy the sight and resonant croak of a rotund bullfrog squatting on a log (that floats). How will you help? Our choices could determine the bottom line of every portfolio, including yours.

Ray Randall, Registered Investment Advisor, uses his expertise to help you formulate your goals, feelings, and purpose when you invest. Leave your comment for him on here.


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