Global warming affects investment, writes Isaac Moledi

Many of us might have felt the wave of climate change in recent months, but what does this mean for us as investors?

As global warming intensifies, which industries will be spawned or flourish and which will suffer and potentially disappear as governments rally to adapt legislation to more efficient use of energy resources?

Scientists believe that carbon dioxide and methane levels are higher than they have been for 650000 years. These gases allow heat from the sun to enter the atmosphere more readily, resulting in rising temperatures.

The Amazon forest has been seriously compromised as heating increases and the Arctic continues to shrink as oceans warm.

As temperatures continue to rise, scientists say some populations will suffer from severe water shortages and others will be devastated by inclement weather such as that seen in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

Food shortages will become commonplace, which will result in the mass migration of people, mainly in developing countries.

According to Candice Paine, head of Glacier Research, solar, wind and hydropower all have limitations, with nuclear energy the only real alternative.

Transportation fuels are still the biggest headache and scientists are starting to advocate conservation in this area.

Paine believes that the effect of legislation and carbon taxation on big corporates will be widespread, with car manufacturers being the hardest hit.

According to her, chemical companies, electric utilities, the metals and mining industries, and oil and gas producers will face heavy taxation on carbon emissions and will need to find more efficient production methods.

She believes that the nuclear power sector will be an obvious benefactor - watch the price of uranium and the mines it comes from - as will any company able to produce sustainable, renewable energy.

The clean production of hydrogen will also pique investor interest, and pharmaceutical companies might benefit from changing health patterns.

Embracing climate change means huge business opportunities for entrepreneurs and scientists alike.

"One industry that is really going to have to reinvent itself is that of insurers," Paine said.

"As one of the world's largest industries, insurers are finding that changes in weather patterns are accounting for huge claims on property which might become unaffordable in the longer term."

She believes that there is much that investors can do.

"They should let asset managers know that they are serious about carbon-friendly investments, not only because these companies will benefit shareholders, but because each and every one of us needs to be thinking about climate change."