Financier Jeremy Grantham’s ‘Be Brave’ Advice to Climate Scientists

‘Be persuasive. Be brave. Be arrested (if necessary)’ investor and Grantham Foundation’s ┬áJeremy Grantham advises scientists in column for Nature.


Boston “legendary” financial analyst and investor Jeremy Grantham characteristically takes off the gloves in “a personal take on events” in a Nature commentary, advising climate scientists to “take more career risks and sound a more realistic, more desperate, note on the global warming problem.”

Warning of an “impending shortage of two fertilizers: phosphorous (phosphate) and potassium (potash),” the co-founder and chief investment strategist of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), a Boston-based asset management firm, and co-founder of the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, spares few words. He cautions that “there is now no safety margin” when it comes to food prices and food costs and that climate change and related extreme weather events are being overlooked by policy makers. The reason? “The frankly brilliant propaganda and obfuscation delivered by energy interests that virtually own the U.S. Congress.”

He warns of “accelerating” adverse impacts from warming and says early estimates of likely damages “have proved conservative in relation to what has actually happened.” He writes that in his first term in office, President Obama “missed the chance of a lifetime to get a climate bill passed, and his great environmental and energy scientists John Holdren [head of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy] and Steven Chu [Secretary of Energy] went missing in action.”

While scientists fret over publicity and overstatement, “their fears, unfortunately, are not shared by their opponents.” The result … “a rather painful and one-sided battle.” He acknowledges risks involved in overstating science, but adds “for climate change, uniquely, understatement is even riskier and therefore, arguably, unethical.”

Concerned over tenure issues, younger scientists often are disinclined to do the “heavy lifting,” leaving the responsibility to more senior scientists.

“Be arrested if necessary,” Grantham advises. “This is not only the crisis of your lives — it is also the crisis of our species’ existence. I implore you to be brave.”

Editor’s Note: The Grantham Foundation provides financial support for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media.

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