Posts filed under “Science”
One of the more interesting things you will read this weekend is the Sunday NYT Magazine’s spread on legendary investor Jeremy Grantham. GMO’s chief strategist discusses quite a few topics ranging from investing to global warming to commodity plays to doom & gloom. (Yeah, I have a few words in it).
There are a number of parts of this article I find intriguing, but I found the issue of framing particularly fascinating. In the US, the issue of Global Warming generates a paltry response — but reframe the question as one of finite resources, and everyone pays attention. Its as if we Americans have become the Ferengi of the planet, obsessed with profit and trade and swindling people into bad deals.
Regardless, the article is rather compelling. I’ll skip my excerpt and point you to the framing discussion:
“Having missed a once-in-a-generation legislative opportunity to address climate change, American environmentalists are looking for new strategies. Grantham believes that the best approach may be to recast global warming, which depresses crop yields and worsens soil erosion, as a factor contributing to resource depletion. “People are naturally much more responsive to finite resources than they are to climate change,” he said. “Global warming is bad news. Finite resources is investment advice.” He believes this shift in emphasis plays to Americans’ strength. “Americans are just about the worst at dealing with long-term problems, down there with Uzbekistan,” he said, “but they respond to a market signal better than almost anyone. They roll the dice bigger and quicker than most.”
Not that it’s always easy to derive usable market signals from Grantham’s letters. Ben Inker, GMO’s head of asset allocation, told me: “Just because he’s right and we know something’s going to happen doesn’t mean that we have a brilliant way to make money on it right now. In this industry people want to be right this quarter. Often, they read the letter, and they’re wondering, What would we do about that?”
But among the ways investors might respond to limited resources, beyond simply trying to grab up a lot of what Grantham calls “stuff in the ground,” are many that also address climate change: for instance, investing in farms and forests managed for the long haul, or in companies that retrofit buildings for energy efficiency, build ultralight vehicles or develop non-hydrocarbon-based power.
“There’s an 80-20 overlap between sensible behavior on resource limitation and sensible behavior on climate change,” Ramsay Ravenel, the executive director of the Grantham Foundation, says. “A lot of his audience isn’t that receptive to messaging on the world’s environment going to hell, but they are receptive to resource limitation.”
The entire article is well worth a read . . .
Can Jeremy Grantham Profit From Ecological Mayhem?
NYT, August 11, 2011
Sounds like an Aesop Fable: Veined Octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, showing sophisticated tool use behaviour. Footage shot by Dr Julian Finn of Museum Victoria. Finn, J.K., T. Tregenza and M.D. Norman. (2009) Defensive tool use in a coconut-carrying octopus, Current Biology, Volume 19, Issue 23, R1069-R1070, 15 December 2009
A stalk-like prominence rose up above the sun, then split into roughly four strands that twisted themselves into a knot and dispersed over a two-hour period (July 12, 2011). A NASA satellite has caught a stunning, yet eerie, video of a huge plasma twister rising up from the surface of the sun. The video, taken…Read More
The 6dF Galaxy Survey has collected more than 120,000 redshifts over the southern sky over a 5 year period from 2001 to 2005. Its goal is to map our southern view of the local universe, and use the peculiar motions of one-tenth of the survey to measure galaxy mass. It covers more than eight times…Read More
For centuries, artists and architects have used some well-known geometrical and mathematical formulas to guide their work: The Fibonacci Series and Spiral, The Golden and Angle Ratios, The Delauney Triangulation and Voronoi Tessellations, etc. These formulas have a reality beyond the minds of mathematicians. They present themselves in nature, and that’s what a Spanish filmmaker, Cristóbal Vila, wanted to capture with this short film, Nature by Numbers.
You can learn more about the movie at the filmmaker’s web site http://www.etereaestudios.com/docs_html/nbyn_htm/intro.htm