Jeremy Grantham at Marlboro College – on Investing for Sustainability

by L J Furman, MBA on December 1, 2011

in Connecting the Dots, Ecological Economics, Economics, Outside the Box, Stock Market, Sustainable Investing

Jeremy GranthamJeremy Grantham, the founder of GMO LLC, a hedge fund with $93 Billion under management, will speak Friday, 12/2/2011, at 5:00 PM at the Marlboro College Grad School, 28 Vernon Street, Brattleboro, Vermont.

Grantham has written “Everything you need to know about global warming in 5 minutes,” which can be found at Think Progress and The Big Picture.”

He says “In the last 200 years we have increased the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about 40%.”

(Ed. note: We have pumped about 1.0 trillion tons of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. This has increased the atmosphere’s capacity to absorb heat and water.)

It is prudent and conservative to ask “What will happen next?”

Grantham continues:

What is the cost of lowering CO2 output and having the long-term effect of increasing CO2 turn out to be nominal?  The cost appears to be equal to foregoing, once in your life, six months’ to one year’s global growth – 2% to 4% or less.  The benefits, even with no warming, include: energy independence from the Middle East; more jobs, since wind and solar power and increased efficiency are more labor-intensive than another coal fired power plant; less pollution of streams and air; and an early leadership role for the U.S. in industries that will inevitably become important.

Conversely, what are the costs of not acting on prevention when the results turn out to be serious:  costs that may dwarf those for prevention; and probable political destabilization from droughts, famine, mass migrations, and even war.  And … what might be the cost at the very extreme end of the distribution: Definitely life changing, possibly life threatening.”

It would be interesting to hear Mr. Grantham’s views on Cape Wind, Solar Energy, Marine Hydro, the Obama – Buffett idea to tax wealthy people, and the Popular Logistics plan for 100% Clean, Renewable Energy (here). However, I suspect I know what he might say:

How would you pay for it?

Granted that if we factored the environmental costs of carbon dioxide, arsenic, lead, mercury, radioactive wastes, zinc, etc. coal, oil, methane, and nuclear would be much more expensive than they are believed to be today. But we don’t factor in those costs….

In New Jersey between 2001 and 2010, e went from a total of six systems with a combined capacity of 9.0 KW to about 7000 systems with a combined capacity of 211,000 KW or 211 MW, and I expect another 3000 systems and about 200 additional MW in 2011. This is exponential growth, leading to the following questions:

  • Does ‘Moore’s Law’ apply to Solar?
  • Is this a Bubble?
  • Or Is it a Paradigm – Shift?

Previous post:

Next post: