Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Real Purpose

Marty is a grad student at Harvard working on his thesis in Environment Management. That will require some field work and data gathering on various carbon sequestration and credit projects along the way. His purpose will be to spend sufficient time investigating the realities of Latin American carbon projects to come to a valid conclusion for the thesis. My purpose is to break the mold again.

The last time I did something like this was twenty years ago. I closed my law practice in a small high plains Nebraska town near the Wyoming border and moved the family to Austria and Germany to earn an LL.M. in International Business and Taxation. So I have learned that radical change produces radical opportunity. I have been cramming Spanish again, learning the vocabulary of the new market of carbon, and will develop a practice generating the legal documentation and tax compliance systems for US and EU purchasers of the new environmental financial products.

My experience in China in the early 1990's has taught me that one cannot draft the documents and advise the client if one does not understand what is being sold. That is the purpose of the factory tour and meetings with management. The same will hold true for the new markets in environmental products, e.g. traded carbon credits . The hope is that exposure to these projects and contacts along the way to Argentina will jump start the practice opportunities.

Then there are my farms. We run four farms in Iowa, five if you count the time spent on the mother-in-law place. With almost 1000 acres, that is a lot of dirt to manage. I have never seen a piece of real estate I did not love, with the notable exception of some Arizona and Nevada desert. The opportunity to expand to South America is alluring. So I will use the trip to scope best practices and available ag ground from Guatemala to Patagonia.

But no matter. It will be a great trip at the end of the age of oil. What's the worst that can happen? I go to work for one of the big international ag banks?

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