Warding Off the Deniers

by | Oct 24, 2011

There was a heated twitter exchange last night between Bob Ward, Bishop Hill, and Richard Tol. Ward predictably wanted to know ‘who funds the GWPF’ — the Global Warming Policy Foundation, headed by Nigel Lawson and Benny Peiser. Ward has been making much of alleged ‘disinformation’ from the GWPF, especially in the Daily Mail. Last week, he wrote two articles for the Guardian’s eco pages. The first suggesting that Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre’s defence of the principle of press self-regulation is not credible, given his paper’s publishing of climate sceptics, especially the GWPF. The second, suggesting that the Charities Commission review the GWPF’s status, given what Ward believes to be politically-motivated (and possibly financially-motivated) perspective on climate change of its donors, staff, and contributors. In both cases, it seems, the implication is that a higher authority should descend on the GWPF and the Daily Mail, to censor, punish, and expose these climate-deviants.

The the one-man-climate-inquisition, Ward, seems unrelenting in his refusal to participate in debate with the heretics, preferring the sticks-and-stones approach. The problem which Ward has never addressed, however, is that once you set such high standards for your opponents, you need to make sure that you yourself can meet them.

According to his twitter profile, Ward is ‘Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE. The Grantham Institute at the LSE is a fairly large outfit, as is the Grantham Institute at Imperial College. What upsets the policy and communications director of the Grantham Institute — which, as far as I can tell, outnumbers the staff at the GWP several dozen or more to one — so much?

Ward is convinced that questionable interests donate to the GWPF. Richard Tol explained that donors to charities are protected by the Data Protection Act. Ward persisted. “What if the GWPF was being heavily funded by overseas sceptic donors?”, he asked, the implication being that we could not trust them.

Maurizio Morabito joined the discussion, and pointed it to a very interesting article which sheds some light on The Grantham Institute’s benefactor, Jeremy Grantham. It turns out that the fund he manages has made the following investments…

I’ve probably not done a good job of working out how much these investments are worth. Where the article says “Grantham bought 1,731,672 shares at an average price of $82.34 and now has 11,309,048 shares”, I’ve assumed that the 11,309,048 shares were worth an average of $82.34, and so have multiplied the shares by that number. I’ve then multiplied that number by the annual dividend, to see what the investments yield. However accurate this is, though, the fact remains that Grantham has invested heavily in oil companies.

But! Shock Horror! Wouldn’t that mean that, by funding Grantham Institutes at various places to the tune of a whopping $165 million, he’s undermining his own investments (nearly 10% in oil)? Well, as the article at Gurufocus says,

In his most recent shareholder letter, Grantham discussed what he foresees as the future of oil. What he mainly anticipates is shortage and rising prices. “The transition from oil will give us serious and sustained problems. We passed peak oil per capita long ago and we are within 30 years, possibly within 10, of peak oil itself. The price will be volatile beyond our wildest dreams (or nightmares), and the price trend will rise, although at times this will be difficult to discern through the volatility.”

It certainly shows that Grantham, who also seems to have invested in green energy projects, isn’t prepared to put his money where his institute’s big-mouthed big mouth, Ward, is. Ward has long pointed his finger at the likes of Exxon, for ‘funding deniers’. It now seems that the institution he now works for is funded by dirty, dirty oil money. But what does Grantham get out of it?

One thing is for sure. By investing in the green sector, and in oil, and in ‘research institutes’ who make loud noises in favour of policies and PR that will push up the price of fossil fuel and subsidise green energy, he’s not simply backing both horses in a two-horse race; he’s backing two horses in two, one-horse races.

Grantham has invested a vast sum of money in oil. This yields a huge, secure profit, which will only grow if the rank environmentalism and neomalthusianism he and the beneficiaries of his ‘generosity’ tirelessly propagate grows. His funding of research, and his influence over the public agenda vastly exceeds anything that the GWPF could muster, and also shows how private interests do actually dominate the debate — just not in the way Ward imagines it to.

But so much for arguing the toss about who is more corrupted by money than whom. It only serves to demonstrate that Bob Ward has completely failed to develop a sense of proportion. If Ward was really able to muster a convincing case for energy and climate policies, he would not be so preoccupied with ‘funding’, and he would not find himself so completely hoist by his own petard, each and every time.


  1. geoffchambers

    Brilliant. Shame comment are now closed at the Ward article in the Graun. Please would anyone who isn’t banned from CiF link to this article the next time Ward raises his cheery head there, or elsewhere? What about getting it together and making his paranoid fantasies of a orgnised campaign come true?

  2. Maurizio Morabito

    Thank you Ben. Always glad to help. Grantham, like every good investors, might be in the business of “hedging”.

    Ward, in the meanwhile, am not sure what business he believes to be in. Too bad his awful exchange with Fraser Nelson of December 2009 has been removed from YouTube.

  3. Fay Kelly-Tuncay

    Grantham seems to have the same investment strategy as George Soros, they both endorse Green groups and projects to push up the value of their investments in oil.

    It’s such a simple cheap trick and the Green groups – who just love jumping up and down about global warming and peak oil – fall for it and of course love all the money that comes gushing their way.

    Invest a £billion in Green and get £100 billion back from big “dirty” oil. Easy money. I think we need a new word for the dictionary to describe this.



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