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« Another paper finds that climate sensitivity is low | Main | Chatham House on biofuels »
Monday
Apr152013

Grantham style

Superrich environmentalist Jeremy Grantham has graciously allowed the Guardian to publish his most profound thoughts on pretty much everything. The whole thing is rather fun, particularly when the great man reveals just how eccentric he is. Take this on sceptics, for example:

The misinformation machine is brilliant. As a propagandist myself [he has previously described himself as GMO's "chief of propaganda" in reference to his official title of "chief investment strategist"], I have nothing but admiration for their propaganda. [Laughs.] But the difference is that we have the facts behind our propaganda. They're in the "screaming loudly" rather than the "fact based" part of the exercise, because they don't have the facts. They are masters at manufacturing doubt. What I have noticed on the blogs and in the comments section under articles is that over several years, as the scientific evidence for climate change gets stronger, the tone of the sceptics is getting shriller and more vicious and nastier all the time. The equivalent on the other side is a weary resignation, sorrow and frustration and amazement that people on the other side can't look at the facts. The sceptics are getting angrier and more vicious every year despite the more storms we have, and the more mad crazy weather we have…

One of the problems is that typically you are not dealing with the facts. Putting in more facts makes the sceptics more angry. They have profound beliefs – as opposed to knowledge – that they are willing to protect by all manner of psychological tricks. So you have people who are very smart - even great analysts and hedge fund managers - who on paper know that their argument is wrong, but who promote it fiercely because they are libertarians. Libertarians believe that any government interference is bad. Anyone with a brain knows that climate change needs governmental leadership and they can smell this is bad news for their philosophy. Their ideology is so strongly held that remarkably it's overcoming the facts. They are using incredible ingenuity to steer their way around facts that they do not choose to accept philosophically. Laying down more facts just makes them more angry. You may win over a few neutrals. They are the people you can win over. But it's very hard to win over the hardcore sceptics, of which there are plenty.

We can try to bypass them on one level and we try to contest the political power of the sceptics. They are using money as well as propaganda to influence the politicians, particularly in America. It almost doesn't even exist in countries outside the US, UK and Australia. A cynic would say that the petrol-chemical industry also happens to be Anglo-Saxon. Where are the great oil companies based? They still have great power. The oil companies seem to have pulled back from directly supporting climate sceptics over the past few years because - in England, in particular - they were embarrassed and it became untenable to be so obvious. But they're still influential. You don't have go via back-channels any more, courtesy of the US Supreme Court, because it is completely legal for a corporation to invest tons of money in advertising programmes to say who is good and who is bad in a race for the Senate without even asking permission from the people who actually own the company. Corporations are treated as human beings and money is treated as having the right to speak. There's dark money and light money. The anonymity they adopt is legal. They don't have to say who their donors are. It is quite remarkable. And then you get the Something Something for the Environment, which are actually just sceptics funded by the bad guys. And then there are the thinktanks who have become propaganda-tanks. I used to respect the Cato Institute when it came out with reports on this, that and the other, and they have received a lot of hydrocarbon funding. But when the University of East Anglia break-in was engineered they had something like 20 press conferences the following month. The response to the break-in was almost immediate and co-ordinated. I don't think it was suspiciously rapid, but I do think it was unusually and unexpectedly rapid. It's very likely that it was simply a terrific response of their behalf. They moved very fast. The good guys are learning slowly, but surely, to step up their response time…

 

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Reader Comments (89)

Jeremy Grantham


Jeremy Grantham is the Chairman of the Board of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, an American investor well known among institutional investors, but relatively unknown to retail investors. He is regarded as a highly knowledgeable investor in various stock bond and commodity markets. Grantham started one of the world's first index funds in the early 1970s and currently manages approximately $120 billion US.[

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Grantham

Jeremy Grantham's 2Q 2010 letter


Global warming will be the most important investment issue for the foreseeable future. But how to make money
around this issue in the next few years is not yet clear to me. In a fast-moving fi eld rife with treacherous politics, there
will be many failures. Marketing a “climate” fund would be much easier than outperforming with it.

http://www.gmo.com/websitecontent/JGLetter_SummerEssays_2Q10.pdf

Apr 16, 2013 at 3:32 AM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

tomo

Maybe it's some bonkers parlour game? Eco activism does rather look like one way to socially climb and network amongst the mega rich
You’re on to something there. If you were a millionaire railway magnate circa 1900, the way to climb socially and meet interesting people was to buy a Raphael, invite Bernard Berenson round to look at it, and eventually found a museum to put it in.
If you’re a millionaire in 2013, and your idea of interesting people to meet is Bono and Madonna, global warming is the way to go.

Apr 16, 2013 at 3:46 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The projection is obvious, the ego massaging. So is the public security blanket to the faithful - if everything was so fine, why the need for this article?

Concerns?

This exercise in self-justification. He obviously believes "anything" can be done for his righteous cause. The enemy is doing these things, but I can do them also, and maybe worse, because "right" is on my side.

Where are his limits? How far is he prepared to go?

Apr 16, 2013 at 6:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

In part two tomorrow [...] why he still invests in oil and gas.

That'll be interesting.

Apr 16, 2013 at 6:48 AM | Registered Commenterthrog

In fact Grantham was a famous "Doctor Doom" in investment markets since at least 1993. He has basically predicted the collapse of share markets, property markets, the US economy etc for at least the past 20 years. (I have listened to his crazed diatribes on two or three occasions - I though it was too rude to just laugh and walk out).

It's really just a small step to start raving about CAGW and ecological collapse as well.

He is an incredibly vain, self righteous old man spending his last twenty years insisting the world will end at about the same time that his own life will. It's a very common thing - just read some of the Old Testament prophets.

Apr 16, 2013 at 7:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBill

If he is so confident of CAGW then he should set up a derivatives market for people to bet on future global temperatures (e.g. low lying countries could take out insurance against sea lavel rises, the US could take out insurance against all that increase in hurricanes that is definitely going to happen).

Just think how much money he could have lost so far this century betting that they would keep increasing. ha ha.

Apr 16, 2013 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean O'Connor

"It's an often made point. Our maritime climate and the warm currents crossing the Atlantic give us a climate which is unusually mild for our latitude."

This is what I actually studied for 3 years and a pet bugbear of mine. The reason it is unusually mild in Britain for the latitude is the combination of maritime climate and the fact that our weather comes from the SW on average. The reason for the SW direction is large scale planetary(Rossby) waves. The main influence of these is the Rocky mountains with a contribution from the large heating region around the Gulf of Mexico.

I can't find any seasonal synoptic charts online but the one for today is pretty typical (though the gif will obviously change every day)

http://www.wetterzentrale.de/pics/bracka.gif

The wind roughly follows the isobars with high pressure from the right. Here we can say it is roughly coming up from the Atlantic off of the coast of Spain. If we had a chart like this with the weather coming from Iceland it would be much colder here. Anyone who thinks we are significantly warmed by the Gulf Stream is welcome to go and have a swim in the Atlantic. The warming effect we do get is typical of all weather coming in from the ocean over winter.

It appears to be a tropical 9.1C in Newquay today.

http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Newquay-Town-Beach/seatemp

Apr 16, 2013 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Money can't buy brains.

Apr 16, 2013 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Remember this is the person that employs Bob 'fast fingers ' Ward has his chief BS seller .

The must interest fact is actual what is not there on this article, in the past the he would have got hundreds of positive comments has the AGW faithful would have fallen over themselves to show there support and hound down any descent.


Still I can understand his frustration 'the cause ' looked to be a massive money maker for people such has him , and although very rich already the psychology of such individuals is such that they can never have 'enough cash ' has its the making of wealth not the holding of it were they get their kicks .

Apr 16, 2013 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

@geoffchambers

I think that should be "interesting" people ;-)

@Bill

That sounds about right - couldn't you just have faked a toilet crisis? I suppose he's useful to GMO as a counterweight to the bouts of monumental overconfidence that suffuse the financial industry on what seems like a routine basis.

Apr 16, 2013 at 8:28 AM | Registered Commentertomo

And my favourite post title (not sure if everyone picked it up)

Perhaps following CAGW is PSYchotic

Apr 16, 2013 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Grantham is a threat because he is as deluded as the most extreme CO2 religionists AND rich enough to fund his delusions. The problem is these people were brainwashed into believing the Earth emits IR as if it were a black body in equilibrium with space and that the atmosphere intercepts part of this thus acting as a 'blanket'. This is not the case and they have also missed out a key cooling process, clouds frequency-shifting CO2 thermal IR to the atmospheric window and water vapour bands not intercepted by the dry upper atmosphere.

Apr 16, 2013 at 10:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

While the Guardian has another 'long' and rather odd article from this person today , so its looks like they gone full on 'Grantham' . Which I suppose at least is an improvement over the handing itself over to his attack dog and BS seller , Bob 'fast fingers ' Ward .

Given they been losing lots of money , ironically being probed up by a 'evil car' selling publication, has their circulation has gone down. It may help explain why they dumped all over their own ethics to allow Bob to gain his nickname in the first place to consider their hopping that getting into bed 'fully naked ' with Grantham in this way will bring my financial rewards.

Apr 16, 2013 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

As someone pointed out to me the Thatcher protests are just the Gurdinistas football hooligans, Although they don't derate them but celebrate them.

Apr 16, 2013 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Grantham does not believe in global warming. Batman does not exist and we are not all in this together.

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Is it just me, or are all the things he's accusing us 'sceptics' of, are precisely the same as we accuse the 'warmists' of..?
The man's a complete fruitcake...

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

So which side blew up the kids who disagreed in a video?
Which side holds seminar, symposium and meeting after meeting to discuss how to sell their side?
Which side is unwilling to debate the topic?
Which side gets billions in tax dollars and private grants yet complains the other side is part of a huge conspiracy?
Projection by the likes of Sir Grantham is always good for a laugh.

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterlurker, passing through laughing

Part 2 is up and he is very rational in his discussion of oil, gas and coal.

I summary he is happy to use up conventional oil and gas resources but wants to kill coal and he thinks like shale gas he thinks will be too expensive to exploit.

Does anyone know if this statement is true?

"If hypothetically someone said to you we all must change to organic across the board, you wave your wand and everyone does it, your productivity drops by 18%"

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

A good Godwin's law moment when discussing the Manhattan Project.

"or once, we came up with the right response, but you can't count on that being our natural reflex as a species. If it was, we would have analysed the problem of climate change and energy, and decided it was a bigger threat than Hitler."

And great intellectual comments such as

"where, by the way, there is a vast concentration of oil companies – are rather intractable on this issue and they've managed to find a little army of non-scientific, persuasive "loony lords", as I call them, to argue the case, either because they like being wined and dined by the enemy, or because they're naturally contrarian and like the publicity, or that they are genuine idiots. "

Is this the viewpoint of Imperial College and the Grantham Institute too?

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

"Grantham Style" - what an inspired title Your Grace!

Me thinks Bob Ward's propaganda has clearly gotten to the boss as his outpourings make so little sense.

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Rob Burton @1:15 PM
He did I believe start out as an economist working for Shell so it's not unreasonable of him to display some residual expertise...

The problem for the oil/gas companies I think is that the arithmetic of shale gas has been exposed and the temporal dynamic of shale enhanced gas recovery is a bit different from the tried and tested drill a hole and it comes out for 20 years model.

The cost of oil extraction at field is in some cases below $10/bbl so that a spot price over $100/bbl is a nice cushion... I think that the oil majors activities surrounding shale gas reflect the relative transparency of price cramping their ability to get the traditional margins...

That said - there are definitely geology based production problems with some enhanced gas recovery projects - but due diligence of the investors and transparency of project progress should deal with that. My own take on it is that Grantham is looking to do down shale gas in a cocktail of eco-loonery and self interested market manipulation to crank margins.

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:35 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Methinks Mr Grantham protesteth too much. I wonder how much he has invested in carbon-trading. No, make that sunk in carbon-trading.

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:38 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

In part two he says
"the news media is full of anti-science nonsense."
Well I think we can agree on that.
At the end he goes completely off the rails
"..we would have analysed the problem of climate change and energy, and decided it was a bigger threat than Hitler."
"[Superstorm] Sandy was probably the closest thing we've had [in the US] to a Pearl Harbour moment.."

Quite why the Guardian devotes so much space to this one man's opinion on almost everything is a mystery.

Apr 16, 2013 at 2:04 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

buzzing noise, rolled up copy of The Guardian.....
[splat. BH]

Apr 16, 2013 at 2:20 PM | Registered Commentertomo

'They have profound beliefs – as opposed to knowledge – that they are willing to protect by all manner of psychological tricks.'

For irony, this is right up there with Rajendra Pachauri's 'voodoo science'.

Can anybody think of anything else that these two might have in common?

Apr 16, 2013 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBullocky

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/12/jeremy-grantham-environmental-philanthropist-interview

Another greedy banker playing the green card more like to appease the masses.

He steps over Occupy Protesters on his way into his office.

Apr 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Rob B

"Anyone who thinks we are significantly warmed by the Gulf Stream.."

A fair point, especially in view of the effect of Easterly winds over the last few weeks. The GS didn't seem to help much then!

Apr 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

It is one thing the loss-making Grauniad giving this knob jockey air time but your Grace does not have to feed his ego. I would suggest that future comments on Grantham (the man, not my home town) be limited to Anglo Saxon insults.

Apr 16, 2013 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterNotthenineoclocknude

Paul Matthews
'why the Guardian devotes so much space to this one man's opinion on almost everything is a mystery.'

At a guess they hope for a ton of cash. and they will just about print anything that supports 'the cause ' no matter how awful. And they did after all decided that journalism ethics and their own claimed moral stance meant nothing when they pre-feed an article to Bob 'fast fingers ' Ward for him to attack before it was published.

Apr 16, 2013 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Apr 16, 2013 at 5:35 PM | jamesp

The strong dependence on the direction our weather comes in from does make it really difficult to forecast too. Our typical weather of depressions tracking in from the SW over the Atlantic is helped by the difficulty in getting observations from the atlantic either. I don't know what progress has been made in the last 20 years but it was always difficult for satellites to see what was going on with wind and pressure under the typical cloud layer.

Apr 16, 2013 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Jeremy should go down and lie in a dark room.

Apr 16, 2013 at 6:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Since the news media is pretty much lockstep with the AGW promoters and hypesters, I would agree enthusiastically with Sir Grantham that the news media is in fact full of anti-science nonsense.

Apr 16, 2013 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:09 PM |ZT wrote "Probably the Guardian are hoping that he'll buy the paper. (Which will be an interesting test of his overall craziness)."

Good point. The fact that a major newspaper is giving time on two days worth of its internet version to a very rich, but otherwise unremarkable, man is curious.

This idea makes sense.
So how can we check it?
Let's look out for other articles that appear to be flattering to moneymen.

Apr 16, 2013 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

I'm going to guess that a person like this has never ever looked at a skeptic blog.

It's interesting that, although he knows enough about Big Oil not to use that meme without caveats, he still can't avoid inserting it into the discussion. Maybe this is because he has to give some explanation for why there is still resistance to accepting the CAGW doctrine in spite of the overwhelming evidence. Besides, it makes for such an appealing narrative, at least for certain minds, that it must be hard to give up.

Apr 16, 2013 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterrw

Wow, that was by far the most incredible example of projection I have ever seen in print. This should be included in future psychological text books on the subject.

Apr 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Wykoff

The reason the Guardian is giving so much space to Grantham is that his money makes him the most important person in the CAGW movement, and the Guardian’s editor has said that the CAGW movement is the most important thing in the world, in space.
They’re also intending to go all digital as soon as they can, and having long articles with the possibility of readership participation is their unique selling point. The trouble with readership participation, however, is that Guardian readers are not all as totally bonkers as the editor.

Apr 17, 2013 at 9:37 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Re psychological textbooks to come (Apr 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM | Robert Wykoff)

Let us hope there will be a great many psychological, as well as other, studies of the Great CO2 Scare. It is after all a moral and intellectual low-point of the late 20th and early 21st century. The facile alarmism and the self-serving projection of such as Grantham would surely provide grist for a few academic millers to work with, and who knows, such work could help protect us from, or at least postpone, the next such fiasco.

Apr 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Don't forget he is funding Nick Stern and Brian Hoskins. He also has the presidents of Environmental Defense and WWF US on the advisory board, both of whom he funds, plus John Schellnhuber, amongst some other familiar names. On the management board are Nicholas Stern, Sam Fankhauser of the UK Climate Change Committee, Simon Dietz, formely Tyndall, who worked on the Stern Review. The advisory board is shared with Imperial Grantham, (Hoskins). In a nice little twist, Stern is on the science advisory board of Schellnhuber's Potsdam Institute. Schellnhuber of course, was at one point Research Director at Tyndall. Wheels within wheels....

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/whosWho/Other/AdvisoryBoard.aspx

More here:
http://sppiblog.org/news/a-nest-of-carbon-vipers

Apr 17, 2013 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

He makes me ashamed to be an Imperial alumnus.

Apr 18, 2013 at 5:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred

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