Stock market investment veteran and co-founder of $70 billion fund Mayo Van Otterloo, Jeremy Grantham, has pledged to spend 98 percent of his net worth – approximately $1 billion – on what he sees as a race against the ticking time bomb of humanity’s fragile deal with the environment.
Bloomberg reports that through his foundation, Grantham and his wife Hanne are currently spending more than $30 million a year to fund at least 38 non-profit organisations focused on dealing with the reality of climate change.
Renowned for his prediction nous which saw him accurately predict the dotcom bubble and the 2008 global financial crisis Grantham’s latest prediction is that the next big crisis will be civilizational as against merely economic. In his view, the major unspoken problem being created by climate change is the fact that agriculture is being fundamentally threatened through creeping topsoil loss. According to him, humanity has a little under a century of good harvests left, which coupled with growing populations spells impending disaster.
Quoted by Bloomberg on his thoughts regarding the immediate and long term future of humanity he says:
Even without climate change, it would be somewhere between hard and impossible to feed 11.2 billion [without] recurrent waves of famine. If that’s the curve in the stock market, you know what to do: panic and go short.
To forestall such an occurrence, Grantham has become a busy political activist, getting involved in everything from the 2011 Keystone XL pipeline protest at the White House to left-wing political campaigning to sensitize people to the imminent danger of large-scale man-made climate change.
Describing his initial political position as an “old, late-lamented Republican”, Grantham says that his moment of political awakening came with the U.S. presidential election in 2000 when he realised that “politics and climate became mixed up”.
Grantham describes his current political standing as a capitalist with a heavy dose of regulation. This he says, is because while capitalism “does a million things better than any other system,” without strong regulation, it is impossible to expect good behaviour from capitalists if such behaviour is not immediately profitable.
In his words:
You must not expect unnecessary good behavior from capitalists. […] I’m sorry, libertarians, it is the only way.
In true capitalist fashion, Grantham also intends to make money from his climate change awareness campaign. GMO launched the Climate Change Fund in April 2017 for the purpose of investing in organisations and commodities that will benefit from the growth of clean energy, green technology and energy efficiency.
Whether he will be successful or not remains to be seen. What seems clear though is that if there is anyone qualified to raise an alarm about the possibility of an impending ‘short’ on human existence, it would be Jeremy Grantham.