Apocalypse Never, The New Map, Sapiens

January 21, 2021

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

- Benjamin Disraeli

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

- George Orwell 

“When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures, so I did ten times more work”

- George Bernard Shaw

A. Apocalypse Never

Just finished an excellent book which will arm you versus the alarmism you will be hearing a lot of in the next few years.

Michael Shellenberger is the winner of both the Hero of the Environment and the Green Book Award in 2008. He is the founder and president of Environmental Progress. Michael started off as a socialist and spent many years working in Nicaragua.

The core thesis of the book is that so much of this environmental alarmism is a new global religion of the rich and affluent and hence unnecessarily alarmist.

This is not to say that climate change isn’t real. It is. It is to say that environmental movement can sometimes focus on the wrong things and is yet another story the media can get us worried about.

He makes the point that the green movement is a marriage between matlthusian environmentalism and socialism, while not understanding root causes of problem.

For example he did a great TED talk on why renewables aren’t the solution (they take a lot of space to be a real solution and even then large scale batteries are a problem), which has been viewed over 2mm times:

He thinks nuclear energy is the real energy solution, but is one the green movement is against because it makes all renewables look useless.

His solution for the climate change is for us to focus on lifting poor people out of poverty, coming up with better fuels and having better overall growth.

My take away from all this was to take climate alarmism with a grain of salt and to really understand what the incentives and motivations of those pursuing the green agenda is and to ask whether all the solutions they are pushing for really effective.

B. The New Map

Daniel Yergin has been involved in the energy market since the 1980’s and most well known for his Pulitzer Prize winning book: The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power.

His latest, the New Map looks at the current geo-political map of energy to understand how the clash of nations and climate change will impact energy markets.

Energy transition is a subject that comes up with clients weekly. This transition is underpinned by the huge falls in cost of energy from “alternative sources”.

We discussed some of these ideas last week in Net Zero to G-Zero.

These new fuels changes geopolitics and hence global dependencies. This combined with the electrification of the world as driving force and the preference of millenials for green energy means the trend will continue and the energy map of the world will be re-drawn.

Especially once the Global Green $$$’s hit the economy.

Recommend you listen to this interview of Daniel Yergin covering the book, it covers the big ideas in the 500 page book:

Thank you Marko Papic at Clocktower Group for your charts.

C. A Few Things Worth Checking Out

1. Finally got around to listening to Yuval Harari on the Tim Ferriss podcast from October on The Story of Sapiens, Forging the Skill of Awareness, and The Power of Disguised Books (my 9 yr old is enjoying his new graphic novel) and if you want to go even deeper, he was on the Your Undivided Attention Podcast: Two Million Years in Two Hours this week.

2. Philippe Lafont (founder of Coatue Management) shared some of the secrets to his success on twitter.

3. Thoughtful and thorough NY Mag article on: Why Is Bitcoin Making All-Time Highs? (thank you David Giampaolo)

4. A research centre dedicated to longer-term thinking has been asking thinkers and specialists in 101 distinct topics what they consider our post-COVID-19 world might look like. The key outcome: our pre-pandemic world was anything but normal, and our post-pandemic world will not be going back to normal at all. There are four reasons why: (1) Disruption will accelerate; (2) Politics will become more turbulent; (3) Pandemic habits will persist; (4) Crisis will create new opportunities.

5. The future of Fintech and payments by the COO of Adyen.

6. The smart Adam Kucharski, discussed this CFR article on How Dangerous Are New COVID Strains? Thank you Mark Evans for flagging.

7. Mohammed bin Salman, the young and ambitious crown prince of Saudi Arabia, unveiled The Line, a 170km-long city built in a straight line near the Red Sea.

8. The entertaining Scott Galloway on 2021 Predictions & Person of the Year.