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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)

Sceptics becoming more shrill, angrier and nastier!
This from the man who employs Bob Ward!
Priceless.

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterXO

Good enough for Grauniad readers, I suppose.

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAr thur Peacock

Well we can safely conclude that Jeremy Grantham is completely out of touch with reality. And dangerously so if he believes what he is purported to have said in that interview.

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDJ

I think the psychological term is 'projection'.

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Has no one told Mr. Grantham about Peter Gleick's little 'break-in' and wire fraud?

However, Mr Grantham also wrote this[zerohedge.com]:

"Resist the crowd: cherish numbers only. We can agree that in real life as opposed to theoretical life, this is the hardest advice to take: the enthusiasm of a crowd is hard to resist. Watching neighbors get rich at the end of a bubble while you sit it out patiently is pure torture. The best way to resist is to do your own simple measurements of value, or find a reliable source (and check their calculations from time to time). Then hero-worship the numbers and try to ignore everything else. Ignore especially short-term news: the ebb and flow of economic and political news is irrelevant. Stock values are based on their entire future value of dividends and earnings going out many decades into the future. Shorter-term economic dips have no appreciable long-term effect on individual companies, let alone the broad asset classes that you should concentrate on. Leave those complexities to the professionals, who will on average lose money trying to decipher them."

If only he would apply his own advice in all areas!

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterManniac

And sceptics suffer from conspiracy ideation?

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

With your permission, your Grace, I shall not "click to read more". What is there is quite enough for one evening.
Is this man real?

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:24 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Up to a point, Mr. Grantham.

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:25 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

He clearly knows nothing about science: the full transcript in the Graun quotes him saying:

There's a professor at MIT who defended tobacco who now defends carbon dioxide saying it seems to have lost its greenhouse effect, or whatever.

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTurning Tide

"We have the facts behind our propaganda". Everybody is invited to look for them. It is called "science". (Paraphrasing Dr. Joelle Gergis).

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

There's enough 'Topsy Turvy' dom here for a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.

(For uncultured few in our midst....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_and_Sullivan)

Pity they're not about to take the piss out of the warmists!

Nial

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterNial

"...The sceptics are getting angrier and more vicious every year despite the more storms we have, and the more mad crazy weather we have…."

If only he'd change the word 'weather' to 'AGW propagandists' - he'd have a point!

Apr 15, 2013 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

For an explanation of Grantham's involvement in influencing climate change and energy policy, see this couple of articles.

Can Jeremy Grantham Profit From Ecological Mayhem? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/magazine/can-jeremy-grantham-profit-from-ecological-mayhem.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Buy natural gas, Jeremy Grantham says. http://m.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/investment-ideas/buy-natural-gas-jeremy-grantham-says/article11004660/?service=mobile

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdward Bancroft

His comments seem like the mirror image of sceptics views of alarmists!

There's little doubt the concerted AGW campaign is being ramped up. Take the line ....."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".

Now, why would he say that when:
1. The evidence against AGW, namely a stall in global temperatures, the almost total failure of predictive computer models and the failure of high climate sensitivity to emerge all work quite emphatically AGAINST the theory.

2. They STILL have not provided evidence that CO2 drives warming.

3. Positive feedback evidence would be nice. So far.... *tumbleweed rolls through*.

So far from evidence 'getting stronger', it's actually precisely the opposite, the theory is weaker now than it's ever been, purely because observations are not confirming the scary predictions.

As for shrill voices, remind me Jeremy, where do the propaganda and censorship come from? Try posting the 'wrong' view on the Guardian, on real Climate or a stack of others and kerpow! Moderated out.

Finally there's the attempt to denigrate and insult opponents as being unable to accept facts, instead we're allegedly dependent on a 'religious belief'. I call BS on that jezzer, baby.

You're the shrill one, you're the one unable to accept facts. The main fact being this crackpot theory is failing every observable test. Reality is not replicating the models predictions. The arrogance of this man and his ilk is quite astonishing.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered Commentercheshirered

And he's sold on 'Limits to Growth'. Is he gunning for an honorary FRS or a knighthood? Or perhaps a Reith Lecture? Nothing would surprise me these days. Pure bunkum.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:06 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

An appeal to (dubious) authority and a would-be authoritative dismissal. All lightweight stuff mainly to rally the troops.

Just about the sort of thing you'd expect him to rattle off

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:15 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Imagine how much good he could have done if he'd used the money he wastes on green wash and offered free insulation to those who can't afford it.

He's not interested in cutting CO2 he only wants to play politics, reforming the World into his idea of how others should live.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

He sounds a little bonkers.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

"He clearly knows nothing about science: the full transcript in the Graun quotes him saying:

There's a professor at MIT who defended tobacco who now defends carbon dioxide saying it seems to have lost its greenhouse effect, or whatever."
Apr 15, 2013 at 9:29 PM | Turning Tide

That is a fantastic quote.

Also is it a fact that it is stormier? not sure what units to measure crazy weather in.

"The sceptics are getting angrier and more vicious every year despite the more storms we have, and the more mad crazy weather we have…"

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Sounds like a character speaking in Alice in Wonderland.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterOakwood

I wonder what Tim Worstall would have to say.

Exactly.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenternoTrohpywins

The sceptics are getting angrier and more vicious every year despite the more storms we have, and the more mad crazy weather we have…

He is quite right, you know. When I was a little kid I had not experienced much crazy weather. I was born too late for the winter of 1947. When I was a teenager I experienced the winter of 1962, one of the worst on record (perhaps the worst, I don't remember now). Then, in my 20s, I experienced the summer of 1976, one of the driest ever recorded.

I could go on, but the point is that the older I get the more "crazy weather" I experience. Obviously the government should do something about this! Only they have the power to control our climate.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

"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. "

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Grantham displays the all too typical moral and intellectual poverty of those riding the wave of scaremongering over carbon dioxide. The dramatic size of that wave is all the more astonishing given the relatively low calibre of the generators of it. Somehow they managed to raise a kind of global madness, the full harm of which we have surely yet to see. It has also coincided with what seems to be a coarsening and increased polarisation in American politics. This sort of trash-talk by Grantham could probably be readily adapted for general political use over there. What a shame and a waste of energy and opportunity it all is.

Apr 15, 2013 at 10:53 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Staff meetings at the Grantham Institute must be illuminating when Jeremy Grantham and Bob Ward are expressing themselves without restraint.
And, much as I hate responding to trolls, I have memories of homilies about motes and eyes from childhood attendance at Sunday School.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Probably the Guardian are hoping that he'll buy the paper. (Which will be an interesting test of his overall craziness).

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

I find it very sad that Mr Grantham, Governments and taxpayers could do much more useful things with the trillions of dollars that are squandered on pseudo science based on flawed models.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I was somewhat shocked to pick up the April issue of Prospect magazine today and find a piece entitled 'Who are the world's top thinkers?' Readers are asked to vote from a list of 65 and they include Jeremy Grantham at 16, James Hansen at 21 and Nicholas Stern at 58. The list was drawn up by a panel which includes Philip Campbell, editor of Nature, Stephanie Flanders from the BBC, David Miliband and Bronwen Maddox, editor of Nature. I'm pretty sure the magazine didn't have this sort of leaning in earlier decades.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterQuercus

My initial reaction was probably blas

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

"The sceptics are getting angrier and more vicious every year despite the more storms we have, and the more mad crazy weather we have…" - no mention of the pause in temperature increase - of course not

"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." - no mention of the oil money for CRU and Green people. - of course not

Funny how these oil companies did so much for the sceptics but no real evidence is provided to prove any of this. Also strange that they no longer directly support but still maintain their influence.

Was this from an episode of Sesame Street?

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

Sorry, cut off in my prime, thankfully. The list of top thinkers is surprising. I'm on my best behaviour, having had a thimble of wine.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

"Putting in more facts makes the sceptics more angry."

Just the opposite. Us skeptics love facts. The AGW cult hates facts.

I was commenting here on this article:

http://o.canada.com/2013/04/12/blog-joe-oliver-casts-doubt-on-climate-science-in-defence-of-oilsands/

As I added more and more facts (and stayed nice and polite) , the AGW cult members went even more deranged.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

"One very senior atmospheric scientist said to me recently off the record that we are liable to wake up one day and find ourselves on the latitude – which we are in the UK – of Montreal. It's a liveable place, but not like London. They have underground tunnels because of their winters"

Eh?? Montreal is notably to the south of London. Has nobody explained the difference between continental and maritime weather to him. Maybe it is explained by the weird jet stream we have these days in the bit just before this. Anyway, I'm glad that top secret was off the record.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

I've never in my life read so long a piece of projection as he just came up with. Truly astounding!

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris F

You could pretty much quote any part of that interview and it would sound a bit bonkers. Looking forward to tomorrows installment and why he invests in oil and gas..

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Um... sounds to me as though he's gotten that channels muddled up and he's talking about the wrong side. Has anyone ever known an alarmist site to be reasonable - let alone offer facts?

Oh, I forgot, "facts" are what they say they are, not what might be linked to data.

That doesn't explain why all the "climate scientists" shout a lot.

He's got to get out more, either that or get off the meds. He's not thinking straight.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterA.D. Everard

loved this bit -

"One very senior atmospheric scientist said to me recently off the record that we are liable to wake up one day and find ourselves on the latitude – which we are in the UK – of Montreal. It's a livable place, but not like London. They have underground tunnels because of their winters. The Gulf Stream is having a few wobbles, too, and the theory there is the melting in Greenland and the Arctic is creating a lot of cold, fresh water, which is a possible source for loss of power in the conductor, so it moves less warm water up from the Caribbean."

what a knob, and the band played on !!!

ps. I try to have respect for my elders & mostly succeed, but they have to earn that respect (fail from this guy)

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

Rob Burton

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.

We have just had a month of weather more typical of 50N latitude. If the warming Arctic is destabilising the Polar Front we may get a lot more of it.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Bruce, I went over there and read your posts and saw all the denial of temps. flatlining. Give a link to Giss or Noaa and a link from Hansen saying how it's true and watch them go nuts.
I'm not on Facebook and refuse to sign up to it.

Apr 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris F

Pretty sad attempt from Grantham - delusional would nicely sum him up.

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Goebbels didn't give speeches to the Jews. Propaganda is not directed at your enemies, but at your supporters.

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

Good for him. His piece is a lesson in fact-based analysis while behaving in a manner that is not shrill or hysterical. Respect.

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Perhaps Grantham is trying to top the Ted Turner Classics-

"A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”

"Not doing it will be catastrophic. We'll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals."

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

wow... eco philanthropist royalty, an emperor in his own domains - with some quite bizarre dress sense it would seem - that his courtiers (hi! Bob) no doubt praise to the heavens.

He's involved with our old friends The Pew Trusts and the web of hundreds of millions of dollars funneled into eco activism nefariously I think it's reasonable to say - by the back door. It seems to be a social necessity in some circles of the (mostly inherited) mega rich to be involved with covertly funding eco-nuts 350.org , The Keystone XL affair a Strategy pdf here that looks like Enron grade skullduggery , The Pew Trusts and others - there's an obvious appetite for manipulating supra national bodies like the UN , EU, WHO and not - it has to be said - in a wholly positive way.

Maybe it's some bonkers parlour game? Eco activism does rather look like one way to socially climb and network amonst the mega rich - not that I am in any way accusing the sainted Mr. Grantham of that at all.

Although Jeremy's still with us - it's clear that philanthropic funding attracts clouds of buzzing activists - all the better if the philanthropist's a dead 'un and not around to remonstrate about the way his/her money's being used...

We can try to bypass them on one level and we try to contest the political power of the sceptics.

just lovely Jeremy, nice mission statement.

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:49 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Re: Entropic Man

> We have just had a month of weather more typical of 50N latitude. If the warming Arctic is destabilising the Polar Front we may get a lot more of it.

March is a reasonably consistent month nowadays and gives only a few mild spells. Gone is the old-fashioned March "heatwave", and in its place we can expect a few mild days (generally near the beginning of the month) before cold easterly winds set in and give us low temperatures - but less snowfall - than either of the two previous months. In time March conditions may improve but there seems little likelihood of this at the present

Seems like a fairly good general description of the March we just had. The only problem is the above was written in December 1962. I guess they must have had a warming Arctic destabilising the Polar Front in the 1950s and 60s.

Alternatively, it could just be weather.

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Re: ConfusedPhoton

Have you noticed that they claim they have the facts, yet refuse to let anybody else see those facts. "You just want to find mistakes" is what Jones said about the facts he had.

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

>"A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”

I thought they were talking about MSM viewing figures.

Apr 16, 2013 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Interesting. One of the classical tactics in witchcraft is to turn the spell of the caster against him or herself. In the case in point the tactic is to recuperate the self-same terms used by sceptics to criticise warmists - Michael Mann is a past (passed?) master of this tactic. The occurrence of the word "shrill" in Grantham's rant is particularly interesting - the first time I heard the usage applied to describe the behaviour of the opposing side, it was by sceptics like Tim Ball and Alan Caruba at least six or seven years ago. As for anger and viciousness, when you look objectively at the attitudes displayed by both sides this non-debate, you have to come to the conclusion that the boot is well and truly on the other foot.

Apr 16, 2013 at 2:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

The echo chamber which Grantham occupies would drive anybody crazy. He listens to Hansen and McKibben.

"The damaging effects of climate change are accelerating. James Hansen of NASA has screamed warnings for 30 years. Although at first he was dismissed as a madman, almost all his early predictions, disturbingly, have proved conservative in relation to what has actually happened. In 2011, Hansen was arrested in Washington DC, alongside Gus Speth, the retired dean of Yale University’s environmental school; Bill McKibben, one of the earliest and most passionate environmentalists to warn about global warming; and my daughter-in-law, all for protesting over a pipeline planned to carry Canadian bitumen to refineries in the United States, bitumen so thick it needs masses of water even to move it. From his seat in jail, Speth said that he had held some important positions in Washington, but none more important than this one."

http://www.nature.com/news/be-persuasive-be-brave-be-arrested-if-necessary-1.11796

Apr 16, 2013 at 2:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

Apr 16, 2013 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered Commenter Sleepalot

Careful. Someone might accuse you of playing the Godwin card...

Apr 16, 2013 at 3:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

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