Browsed by
Category: Uncategorized

Don’t Give Up

Don’t Give Up

Don’t give up. Not now. We’re too close.

I know a lot of people are frustrated and disillusioned with the state of politics and world affairs. I share those frustrations. But never before have the problems, and the solutions, been brought into to light in such a transparent and accountable manner. This, unfortunately, is the painful part about getting to the truth.

There is only one way to resolve that pain. We know the truth and now it is time for action.

Climate Volatility is a mathematical fact that requires our action. High waste streams and heat-trapping emissions are and will continue to alter the way we live for generations to come. There will be migrations and challenges to the food system but there is an action plan. We must go all-in on renewable energy, mandate ultra-efficient new building and build a sustainable agricultural system around soil-based organic farming, greenhouses and vertical farms.

Progress is being made. Over a trillion dollars has gone into renewable energy in the past three years and that pace is accelerating. In 2015, Solar energy installations in the US passed natural gas for the first time ever. This is in the face of direct and indirect opposition from a multitude of sources and not just the usual suspects (Warren’s Buffett’s utility interests in NV were protected by retroactive legislation against solar; Bill Gates continues to push a ‘more research is needed’ party line). We don’t need more research – We need implementation and a level playing field. But even without it, deployment is happening and it’s happening with a subsidy program that pales in comparison to fossil fuels. Clean energy is winning because its smarter, safer and cheaper and it will continue to make gains but more support is needed. There’s much more work to do and already the job growth in clean energy is outpacing other industry at record rates.

Bridge

The organic food movement has been growing rapidly for years and your choices have and will continue to reshape supermarket shelves and other delivery mechanisms. Co-ops and local foods movements’ are thriving and we are seeing the first hundreds of millions in investment go into Vertical Farming. Future Bright’s research points to a $600B opportunity in infrastructure alone for Vertical Farming.

Transforming our food and energy systems to be clean and resilient in the face of climate volatility is a priority but we have other pressing challenges and we are making progress.

Inequality is a mathematical fact that requires our action. Like you, I want to live in a world where people can work hard and do well. Right now, we have great challenges to that progress due to technological trends and structural impediments. If we don’t address these and provide a system for folks to work hard and do well, the money the ultra-wealthy have won’t mean much. We can keep pushing for an equitable and accountable tax system. It should be proportional or flat and smart people shouldn’t require personalized loopholes. This dialogue is making progress. We can’t call the market free if it’s not, if we are no longer the land of opportunity, then we must acknowledge that and act to change it.

There are other ways we can address the risk of inequality. One way is to support companies who are mandated to promote healthy social and environmental systems.

Good Companies are being born everyday. B-corporations are companies who promote healthy social and environmental systems. Co-ops and small business are, by definition, focused on people. Local businesses, as opposed to franchises, keep dollars in the communities where they are spent. Sustainability geared companies are easy to start because the problems and solutions are again so transparent and actionable.

I’ve started four efforts I’d love you to know about:

Future Bright LLC – a think tank and advisory that supports sustainable consumer products companies and investment strategies

Perpetual Sustainability – large-scale sustainable infrastructure

Future Bright Foundation – a non-profit effort – details coming soon, and

Sonic Bomb – a creative company that produces music and media in support of sustainability and positivity. I couldn’t be more excited for what we will release this summer!

Will all these work? Maybe, maybe not but I can tell you that each effort is designed around a different strategy to help restore social and economic systems and as risk mitigation for climate volatility. So should they? I would hope they should. I’d love your support and would love to support your efforts in our common goal. That’s right – we’re in this thing together, whether we like it or not. Get fired up, it’s the time of legend.

Crowdfunders and other circumventional finance pathways are flocking to good ideas and this brings me to my next point. The ‘No’s’ are becoming a smaller and lonelier crowd and technology will continue to build around these impediments.

Wallace

We can circumvent the corruption. Have you heard of Aspiration, the investment company that pays deposit interest 10X what your bank does and promotes sustainable investing. They’ve formed a partnership with Sierra Club and they let you ‘pay what’s fair’ for their services. How about Greenbacker, a renewable energy investment fund with a relatively low minimum investment threshold. Did I mention Thrive markets or hundreds of organic and superfoods companies you can support directly. Gather By is one I am connected to, that supports pollinator and earth restoration and here is the kicker, the product tastes great and is good for you.

Do you see your investment portfolio taking shape? Reach out…

Let me list a few other great ideas. Industrial hemp can clean up our soil and create a domestic manufacturing industry resulting in jobs and economic growth. Electrification of everything from vehicles to lawnmowers is a boon to innovators everywhere. These trends all point to enormous opportunities for liquid investors as well.

All these great and necessary shifts are happening now to take us to the sustainability platform, the new economy, one that works. Don’t think governments and large corporations aren’t noticing this. While many may be trying to hold sustainable change back…

Politicians, at all levels, are picking up the platform. It would be hard for anyone to say that Bernie Sanders platform isn’t popular and infectious. Popular is a hard quality to dispel but the ideas listed above are just what’s being carried out today by good men and women around the world. Bernie says it best, ‘It’s not about him or any one person, its about us and our children.’ The children believe in and support our efforts, and I’ve received more than enough personal confirmation of that to know it’s true.

They are watching. They are hoping.

There’s only one choice and it will be hard but it’s the one we’ve got.

The sustainability platform is the only platform that supports all people and the planet and allows for wealth creation.

This is an epic time to be alive. The thought revolution is now the action oriented sustainability evolution. There are now millions of young Bernie Sanders’, Elon Musks’ and Dalai Lamas’ planning, preaching, peace-ing and producing around the world. The pollination of the future happens now. Support it. Be it. 

To quote one more from Carl Sagan: “Don’t sit this one out. Do something. By chance of fate, you are alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of the planet.”

Sagan

Rest in Peace – Gabe Selig 1967-2016

Rest in Peace – Gabe Selig 1967-2016

All things pass. All things.

On Sunday, we lost a friend and a fellow traveller on life’s great continuum. Gabe Selig died doing what he loved, surrounded by those who knew and cared for him.

Gabe was a true character and he cared deeply about what he believed in. Although I met Gabe in 2003, it wasn’t until 2011 that I would begin to understand the importance of those beliefs.

Gabe was a passionate proponent of sustainability, particularly of the merits of solar power. When I was at a crossroads in my life, Gabe agreed to take me on a deep dive and impart wisdom about what was to come. Gabe was before his time in this field and worked tirelessly to bring together people of diverse backgrounds. He took me to visit cutting edge technology companies and together we walked and rode the southern faces of farmland in Gabe’s adopted homeland of Vermont, speaking with landowners about the possibilities of sustainable energy.

On those winding backroad car rides, I got to know Gabe as more than a colorfully dressed, jovial ultimate player. He was smart and engaged about the possibilities of our future world. He understood much and he believed in helping people to achieve their dreams.

One of his dreams was to sustainably develop large pieces of Vermont land in a community-driven way, bringing together passions and functions, while protecting the land. Music, farming, wind and solar all had a place in the dreams Gabe shared and, over time, I too began to share those same dreams.

This period of time has been a gift for me, solidifying a shift, and I have Gabe to thank for it.

Gabe did what he loved. Beyond his tireless work to make a difference, he lived life to the fullest: topping his cup with live music (he played the saxophone), snowboarding and, of course, Ultimate.

As all things pass, Gabe passed on the Ultimate field. It’s sad, yes. We can be sad that Gabe’s color, laughter and spirit may physically have moved on. But ask yourself this, where and when would you want to transition? What will you believe? Where will you be?

Gabe believed and lived for the right things. All the way.

We should think of all those mornings when the community came together. Men and women, aged thirteen to sixty. Gabe was a foundation stone of that community. A part of the circle that goes on… forever.

It’s a sunny day, warm but breezy. Giant, shape-shifting clouds fill the sky. The grass is wet from a spring shower. You are racing down the field, at your best. There’s a chase and in a glance you catch sight of eyes you’ve known for many years. They see you too and the circle flies through the air.

Shouts blend with the wind and the birds. Your eyes lock to the spinning circle. You race and lunge and, seconds before the chaser does, you grab the circle and roll.

The smells are grass and dirt. The air is warm. There is a cheer. The sun and clouds paint with shadows on the ground. The chaser congratulates you. You rise and walk into the sun.

Rest in Peace Gaber – we’ll always know where to find you.  

The OpEd of a Citizen

The OpEd of a Citizen

To be clear, I haven’t become disinterested in politics. I’ve just tuned it down in favor of the positives in life.I’ve collected enough data and made a decision.

For the math, it’s Bernie Sanders.

There are some things we need to be doing.

Number one is preparing for increased climate volatility. The math is clear. We can prepare in a profitable and prosperous way now, but not in the future. We must go all-in on renewable energy and begin a dialogue about coastal migration and worker retraining. We must prepare our food systems for less water and less weather predictability. We must protect pollinators and other essential biodiversity. 

Number two is about people. We need to be accountable for inequality and allocate investment in a way that restores social systems. This is especially true of public investments. We can reduce waste in the system through transparency and by making the goals clear. We are at a critical point in maintaining stable social systems. 

Number three is about how we use technology. There is currently a rapid race occurring between technology’s ability to connect and unite us and its dual ability to change the system of commerce faster than humankind can adapt. If we don’t account for the value of people – the current economic model will eliminate them. 

Addressing inequality and utilizing technology to restore social and natural systems is another way to avoid future unmanageable conditions.

From what I’ve read, Bernie’s platform addresses these solutions. The least we can do is to choose leaders who acknowledge the problems and come to the table with solutions.

Many people aren’t receiving this message: We are equally close to the solutions, which are economically viable, as we are to the abyss, where social and environmental breakdown makes money the least of our issues. 

We need to act boldly today. To vote for action and with the math, it’s Sanders every time. This is not an ideological argument and, in reality, is less about the one vote than it is about addressing the reality of our situation. There is a tremendous and historic choice available to us and, we live in a world of staggering beauty. 

My hope is that we can all turn to the positives of life. There is great opportunity. The technology to take us there exists and is far cheaper than the status quo. The barrier seems to be an inability to directly discuss the current condition and the will to walk the proper path. Those impediments are simple to change. I believe we will change them. 


I know the culture of large organizations can be hard to buck against. The rhetoric and pack mentality can be powerful forces for the status quo. 

The best example is the ‘keep politics out of business adage’. But politics has, in many cases, become business. We are missing a bigger picture and our time here is too short to miss it. 

It should be clear, for most of us that fall below the management level at our organizations today, chances are the current economic model will automate us into underutilized assets as quickly as it can. 

Underutilized people are costs and risks and, they are people. Education and participation have far higher economic returns. However, our neglect to emphasize these goals has left us with many downstream, polarizing issues. We can only solve these issues upstream, with localized clean food and energy and clear goals for education, health and other social issues. Without a level economic playing field that supports people, time is only variable in the assured outcome of our current terminal path. 

We can be as certain of that, as we are of the continued liquidation of the environment (our life support) if we don’t change, act, vote, think and imagine to make the world better. We can do it – we can choose sustainability. 

In Carl Sagan’s great words, “Don’t sit this one out. Do something. By chance of fate, you are alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”

JPM says no to Coal

JPM says no to Coal

J.P. Morgan recently announced it would suspend most future financing for coal. The firm will consider case-by- case financing for developing markets with carbon sequestration (CCS) technology is employed. 

Future Bright explain the implications of JPM’s decision in terms of the newly reframed Climate Volatility. In fact, JPM’s decision can be viewed as Climate Volatility Risk Management. 

Once we reframe the debate, we then look to understand the risks and impacts of #ClimateVolatility on businesses and consumers across the globe. 

Parts of the following paradigm are adapted from the SASB sustainable accounting standards board. 

The risks are:

  • Physical: weather disruptions, droughts and other natural disaster, zones of social instability, depletion, knock-on effects.
  • Transitory: business impact from the secular shift towards sustainability and in particular – the choosing of resource efficient technology by consumers and businesses. Clean food and energy. 
  • Regulatory: current and future requirements and liability from climate volatility. 

We are seeing the impacts of these risks everywhere but climate volatility as a cause remains under-reported. As that paradigm shift takes hold, there is enormous opportunity for investors and communities to profit by choosing prosperity in the form of resource efficient companies and infrastructure. 

For those industries with the highest risks and who do not pivot towards resource efficiency – the writing on the wall is increasingly clear – the likelihood of your business being impacted by these risks is rising. 

Those impacts fall into four major categories:

  • Cash Flow: both rising costs and falling revenue have assailed industries on the wrong side of climate volatility risks. These companies are short volatility and short gamma.
  • Asset Values: for certain technologies and business models – assumptions on asset valuation require serious rethought in the case of rising climate volatility.
  • Financing: it is increasingly becoming viewed as a fiduciary requirement to assess the impact of investment decisions in terms of climate volatility. 
  • FutureWasteLiabilities (FWL’s): what did businesses know when? It’s become more clear that the chain of custody and disclosure will have implications for businesses past decision w.r.t. Climate Volatility. Higher FWL’s – Higher VAR.

Reframe the Debate – Hedge your Exposure – Get Long Climate Volatility by investing in Sustainability 

– Future Bright

  

Reframe the Debate 

Reframe the Debate 

Reframe the debate – Climate Volatility can be managed, monetized and mathematically observed – If you live in New York or Australia – your intuition is observing it. Let it through and prepare for the future. For risk managers, fiduciaries and decision makers everywhere – the implications of Climate Volatility are economic and ultimately ones of business and societal viability.

The Future Bright portfolio promotes stable, localized cash flows with little to no operational supply chain through investments in renewables, efficiency and sustainable agriculture. Ultimately, financial innovation will allow targeted deployment of investment dollars to this security strategy, profitable today and with numerous growth catalysts. 

Cleanliness and transparency in food and energy systems ultimately, and over time, lowers downstream social costs. 

From a liquid lens, long the carbon price and resource efficient companies or those with the ability to pivot quickly is prudent while avoiding long supply chain extraction-based business models with high potential future waste liabilities (FWL’s).

Reframe the debate 

– Future Bright LLC 

  

5 Numbers on Water

5 Numbers on Water

5 numbers about a given topic in hopes of stimulating a math based discussion of sustainability and sustainable investing.

This post will attempt to follow a form that does one or all of the following:

  • Illuminates a problem in the context of environmental or social systems
  • Illustrates where industry may have to shift behavior due to the problem
  • Ties the problem to the economic system
  • Highlights potential investment solutions

Today’s 5 focuses on water scarcity and degradation touching on both freshwater and saltwater systems and making the link to economic and social systems through food.

5Water

Disclosure: Future Bright is a think tank and advisory in sustainability and investing. Future Bright has worked with renewable energy developers, energy efficiency funds, assets managers and vertical farm engineers on progressing solutions towards sustainability. This note is not an offer of services or investment of any kind. This is a blog post for informational purposes only. Those interested in consulting services, design work or industry analysis should contact Future Bright directly. (www.futurebrightblog.com)

Goldman sells $600M Coal investment for <$10M

Goldman sells $600M Coal investment for <$10M

For many, the etchings on the mine wall are clear; coal is in terminal secular decline. The message is clear – one option remains to divest from coal assets and that is to walk away.

Effectively, that’s what Goldman has signaled in August when the firm ended its 5-year investment into Colombian coal mines. The company announced it would sell assets, originally purchased for roughly $600M, for less than $10M to private US coal company Murray Energy. After four years of operation, Goldman estimates it lost $200M on the deal.

Murray, for its part, is attempting to diversify assets outside of the US to ‘ensure survival’ as coal has come ‘under attack’ in the US. It won’t be so easy.

The global economy is pivoting away from coal given the availability of cleaner, cheaper alternatives and potential future waste liabilities. Coal assets have largely become unsalable (see Future Bright’s thesis on Future Waste Liabilities for corporate valuation). The market has revealed this to be true as over the past few years, coal equity valuation has plummeted. Unable to sell equity or assets, the bankruptcies have begun.

Coal_Stocks

– In earlier August, Alpha Natural Resources filed for the industries biggest bankruptcy yet.

– Many other coal companies have filed for bankruptcy over the past two years including, Walter Energy, James River Coal and Patriot Coal. Two others, Arch Coal (ACI) and Peabody Energy (BTU) could potentially be next.

Why Coal won’t be coming back

1.) Future Waste Liabilities: A cornerstone of the Future Bright investment thesis is the looming recognition of Future Waste Liabilities (FWL’s). FWL’s will be tied to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fabricated and synthesized products with toxic qualities, water, air and other forms of pollution that affect real estate value, human health and bio diverse ecosystems.

  • In 2014, the state of North Carolina sued Duke Energy over and accident that spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River. It is estimate that clean up could cost the company over $10B. Duke’s market cap at the time of this writing was $52B
  • Estimates of the economic value add of coal are 1/2 that of the externalized costs of environmental destruction and health costs.
  • It is estimated that 500k to 1.6M people lose their lives annually to air pollution in coal-heavy China.

2.) Cheaper: The Coal industry first had to battle off the natural gas boom, an industry that will prove to carry its own sizable future waste liabilities. Now, Coal is losing an outright battle of economic parity to renewable energy sources, which have installation/technology costs which have mirrored the steep decline in the price of coal itself (~80% over 4 years). Contrary to coal how, renewables have no fuel costs or near zero marginal cost of production.

Lcoe

Graph displays sample LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy) for 2014 utility scale projects (NREL).

3.) Cleaner: Renewables and Natural gas are winning in price and, in the case of renewables in particular, cleanliness. Renewable often have zero operational supply chain and little to no GHG (Global Greenhouse Gas) emissions. As the global economy races to de-carbonize to improve air and water quality and combat climate change, Coal’s kissing cousins of oil and gas will be forced into transformation or face a similar fate.

2012Emission_bySector

THINK TANK: Will Oil and Gas companies see the ghost of Christmas future in the mirror and pivot before their own equity implosion begins. Key inflection points like battery pricing could signal the tipping point when joined to conditions like rising vehicle efficiency, millennial trends and liability from spills and earthquakes.

Stay tuned to Future Bright for more on this subject and others related to the trillion dollar sustainability option.

Sources: EIA, Bloomberg, Future Bright, NREL

Disclaimer: Future Bright is a think tank and advisory in sustainability and investment themes. Future Bright has worked with renewable energy developers, energy efficiency funds, assets managers and vertical farms on progressing solutions towards sustainability. This note is not an offer of services or investment of any kind. This is a blog post for informational purposes only. Those interested in consulting services, design work or industry analysis should contact Future Bright directly. (www.futurebrightblog.com)

Imagine

Imagine

Think – Act – Profit

Future Bright

Imagine a world of rising prosperity and growing natural beauty. Imagine a world of lasting wealth paying economic, social and cultural dividends now and the future. This is the Future Bright world.

Future Bright started as a think tank centering on just such a world. Can we get there and if we can, will we?

We can. By adopting new paradigms for Equity – Efficiency – Infrastructure – we can deliver profits today and prosperity tomorrow. These paradigms are based on proven technology, in production and growing that relies on Natural Economic Closed Loop Accounting – a fancy word for Nature’s technology adhering to Resource Math.

My exploration started in renewable energy and the development of commercial solar projects in the northeast. I have studied solar power indepth and can say without a doubt – the growth is going to accelerate and the transition is here to stay. This statement is predicated on four main drivers: resource scarcity, high waste streams, changing demographic and a rising middle class.

The first two factors, scarcity and waste, and their impact on our life support systems are setting the stage for superior economics for those who bring balanced solutions like renewable energy online.

The communities that thrive in the future will be built on collaboration and transparency. I see these enclaves starting now. When they are offered the Vibrant Loop of food and energy independence – they will choose a positive future that will pay dividends for all stakeholders.

Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Vertical Farming

What do these investments have in common?

  • Profits: They all exhibit higher returns for comparable risk with comparable duration investments.
  • Stability: Their revenue drivers represent relatively inelastic demand units that whose traditional extraction, production and supply chains are set to experience growing price inflation and volatility. Future Bright Investment have lower corresponding volatility, long term price stability and lower correlation.
  • Social Responsibility: They all pay community dividends in the form of jobs, real estate appreciation, lower long run health problems and lower pollution.
Green or Bust

Green or Bust

It’s working. You’re working.
Sustainability is impacting the mainstream. Industrial companies are being compelled to change. High efficiency companies are winning. It’s all about simplicity, transparency and accountability. The polarizing issues will improve over time, but only if we choose sustainable solutions with our dollars, our actions and our words. It involves shifting technology away from labor efficiency and resource liquidation and towards localization, import export and waste minimization.
It’s time for resource restoration and efficiency… Which will means jobs, security, stabilization, mitigation and opportunity.
If not now, then never. If not us, then no one. Keep going.
We’re doing well, but more is necessary.
Be the change the world needs.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/382/39263282/files/2015/01/img_2148.jpg

Now is a good time to talk about Micro-grids

Now is a good time to talk about Micro-grids

Now’s a good time to talk about Micro-grids

Hurricane Sandy has dealt a harsh blow to the northeast in loss of human life, property, infrastructure and sustained damage to the centralized electricity grid. In the wake of the devastation it is important that the northeast population familiarize themselves with Micro-grids and renewable energy parks. Understanding what they are and how they have been successfully employed is the first step.

A Micro-grid is a distributed power supply providing electricity for a small number of ratepayers.

A renewable power source is one generating from a renewable clean and limitless energy source like the sun or wind.

In their simplest forms, Renewable Micro-grids are local area networks built with a combination of solar PV, geothermal and wind energy. These micro-grids can be supplemented with some natural gas and biomass energy production. They are generally connected to the centralized grid but can operate independently in the case of an outage. Many states and countries have already illuminated a clear path to the successful use of micro-grids and renewable energy.

Distributed Micro-grids in commercial and open space settings in places like Westport CT could provide a long-term secure source for maintaining supply chains, safety, and security in the event of natural disasters.   

Close to home, Sikorsky is a stellar example of a progressive American company with respect to renewable energy. Sikorsky is its’ own Micro-grid with over 10 megawatts of renewable energy installed on their site in Stratford, CT. Renewable energy powers 85% of their 2 million square foot campus. As a side note, Sikorsky is also close to completion the worlds first zero gas helicopter. Now, that is awesome!

We should expect our legislators to look for successes which to follow. Germany, Vermont, Mass and California are a few examples of enacted laws with proven success in the renewable space. Germany derives 40% of their power from renewable sources showing a clear understanding of scarcity and security dynamics as well as environmental impact. Your local legislature should be encouraged to look to replicate the success of the structures in place in these environments. Regulation has been holding development of renewable energy parks back until recent years. But,.

The trend is your friend. Microgrids are expected to increase production 5 fold over the next 6 years from about 1GW to 6GW of energy production representing $4 billion in energy revenue. Grid tied renewable energy installations are seeing good growth numbers as well.  

Many people ask me how these projects can work economically speaking. They can be funded a number of ways from community or business sponsorships to public and private investor partnerships. Based on the current CT laws, sponsorship by the largest commercial property owners may be the best model, where local residences can also be included within the Micro-grid. Building owners can sign long term power purchase agreements with their tenants and homeowners and receive the federal tax credit as well (30% of installation cost). As stand alone private investments, renewable energy parks should be able to conservatively deliver 4-7% returns over long time frames (6-25 years). These advancements to our energy supply need to happen so I am confident they will. My hope is that our community, Fairfield County, CT takes up the reigns and begins the necessary march towards a distributed clean and locally owned energy supply.

To address security, safety, and environmental balance, renewable micro-grids are a necessary part of the solution.  

For more informations on Future Bright’s efforts with renewable energy investments, email ken@kencoulson.com