Jeremy Grantham’s latest note for GMO tackles some of his pet issues – from commodity demand to climate change – and the conclusions he reaches are both dour and slightly hopeful at the same time. For the uninitiated, Grantham is the real deal on these topics, having gotten himself arrested at a Keystone XL pipeline protest a couple of years back.
The bad news is that we’re breaking records for climate-related abnormalities around the world. The good news, he notes, is that there has been a real evolution in terms of the way world leaders are looking at the issue…
Both the actual climate and the associated politics seem to be changing more rapidly these days, with the seriousness of the situation becoming better appreciated. Visible changes in the climate have also been accelerating, with many more records than normal of droughts, floods, and, most particularly, heat. Last year was the hottest year ever recorded, and this year, helped by an El Niño, has gotten off to a dreadful start. January was the second hottest January ever. February and March were outright records. April was in third place, but both May and June were back in first place. This consistency with volatile climate is unusual and ominous. If kept up, 2015 will be the hottest by a lot. Angela Merkel, a chemist by University training, arm-twisted the G7 countries, especially Japan and the recently rogue Canada, into a statement committing their countries to decarbonizing their economies completely by 2100 and making some increased effort by 2050, a respectable improvement but still very insufficient for the long term. It was probably the first time for several decades, by the way, that it was reasonably clear that someone other than a U.S. President was the natural leader: at least on some issues.
Pope Francis weighed in with a brave encyclical, which was bound to cause trouble with his flock, making the clear case that it is a Catholic’s duty to help protect our home planet and that manmade climate change from excessive burning of CO2-producing fossil fuels is an urgent problem. He was advised by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which includes several Catholic, as well as non-Catholic, Nobel Prize winners and several of the world’s leading scientific authorities on climate change. How did he arrange this? If only our politicians had such advisors and availed themselves.