Investing in Thin Air

by | Feb 24, 2001 | Archives

Brilliant stars, like diamonds on a carpet, stud the opaque laciness of the milky way. Chilled winds whip me through the inky night as I stand shivering under shadows cast by an ivory moon. I look up at sharp crispness, pure, clean sky.

I was thinking how we have learned from looking at scams that our money can disappear into thin air. Yet have we ever considered being able to actually make money from thin air?

I was leaning against a huge, black walnut tree, late last night, dressed in my pajamas, robe and rubber Wellington boots with a shotgun cocked under my arm. I really should have put on socks as my toes were turning numb. If I smoked I guess I would have dragged a fag to fight off the cold, but instead I breathed in the cleanliness of the mountain pines and let my anger warm me instead. Ma (our pumpkin patch hound dog) shivered beside me. Last night some critter got Sergeant Pepper our Dominique rooster and we are sad. I shouldn’t get so emotional, but I remember the fluffy little chick. It was bed time, but before tucking in, I thought I’d stake out for just a bit (as long as I could stand 15 degree temperatures and the wind). I wanted to protect the three hens (Snow White, Chicken Little and Little Red Hen).

Thinking of those three started me reflecting on three of the best investments in the decades ahead, water, wood and air. Finally I gave up and set my Have A Heart cage and headed to bed. I had a flight to Ecuador the next day for a month long investment search.

As you read this I’ll be on my way to Ecuador which I love from an investing point of view because it is the closest source of 365 day a year, direct, equatorial sunlight to North America. This immense energy creates resources available nowhere else so near, such as extra oxygen. Oxygen is one commodity I am researching for its investment potential on this trip. I have long advised looking for ways to invest in water (one reason I bought my land in North Carolina is its historic medicinal spring). I have recently become more interested about investing in wood and now I also have a growing interest in air.

Oddly I am interested in investing in wood, water and air that cannot be used. I am looking at investments in wood, water and air mitigation.

One reason I am flying to Ecuador today is because a business associate who has been helping a group of Swiss investors buy natural resources there recently wrote:

“Gary, I remember you asked me once about the oxygen exchange program and if I knew something about it. We have had several meetings here and our client has decided to buy an extra 6500 hectares to be able to use for oxygen exchange. The proper name is; “Clean Development Mechanism” and allows US private companies (Europe hopefully later) to trade certificates on the Chicago stock exchange directly from owners of tropical forests. There will have to be a study which determines the amount of CO2 the forest absorbs. We expect each hectare to “produce” about 40-50 tons of oxygen per year and the goal is to trade at a price at about US$ 30/ton. At the moment Costa Rica is doing this but trading at a much lower cost.. What we have been explained is that the forests of Costa Rica are not as dense as the forests here due to exploitation. I am not sure if this is correct.

We do not know too much about this yet but we believe this will be huge in the future. I will employ a person full time later on to work directly with the ministry of environment on this issue. We also have a German student on our property trying to determine how much CO2 our forests absorb. The person is sent from the ministry of environment and they will use this as a pilot project in Ecuador on the Clean Development Mechanism.

I believe this is something that will be of interest for you and your clients. Let me know what you think.”

What I believe is that this associate is correct. I’ll be letting you know what I learn in the days and weeks ahead as I corresponded directly to you from Ecuador. Next message will be about wood!

Until then good global investing.