Someone just e-mailed me the latest example of a seemingly intelligent (albeit conservative) person who has joined the ranks of those successfully duped and confused by the deniers and the status quo media. Our latest victim’s impressive bio:
Dr. Stephen Leeb is the editor of The Complete Investor newsletter. The Complete Investor newsletter has earned awards for Editorial Excellence for 2004 and 2005 by the Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Association [sic — Leeb hasn’t quite figured out the internets, either]. Dr. Leeb is the author of six books on investments and financial trends. His newest book is Game Over: How to Prosper In A Shattered Economy.
He even seems to know something about energy, “His best-selling book The Oil Factor: Protect Yourself – and Profit – from the Coming Energy Crisis accurately predicted the surge in oil prices.” Who didn’t, though (other than Michael Lynch, who predicted back in 1996 “real oil prices FLAT for the next two decades)?
But based on the following nonsense he recently wrote and circulated, investors may ask themselves whether he bothers to do the most basic kind of research needed to justify following his advice:
COLD WINTERS FOR THE DOLLAR SPELL GOOD TIMES FOR ENERGY
… A declining dollar will also be positive for oil. But there is something else in the wings that could dramatically accelerate an already sure uptrend in energy prices. We are talking about global warming or the lack thereof.
Global warming has become a well entrenched ideology among scientists. Increasingly, however, the consensus view states that the next 10 to 20 years could actually be a cooler period within a long-term warming trend. We could see colder winters and lower average worldwide temperatures during this time. But according to the scientific community, a generation of colder temperatures is not reason to turn up the thermostats.
Sad, really. In fact, the “consensus view,” a term I don’t much like — let’s say, rather, “the scientific understanding as reflected in the peer-reviewed literature” — is that the next 10 to 20 years will be the hottest on record collectively (see “Exclusive interview with Dr. Mojib Latif, the man who confused the NY Times and New Scientist, the man who moved George Will and math-challenged Morano to extreme disinformation“).
There is no certainly no imaginary consensus predicting “colder winters and lower average worldwide temperatures” over the next one to two decades.
We have always had trouble with zealots whether they be Scientologists or ivory tower ideologues. And global warming is no exception. A few experiences and recent articles make me especially skeptical.
Yes, the entire scientific community, including hundreds of climate scientists, all of the major scientific publications, all of the world’s national academies of sciences, and the major scientific associations, are all the equivalent Scientologists or idealogues who never even bother to go outside and study, say, virtually all of the world’s glaciers, which are melting far faster than predicted, Dr. Stephen Leeb.
In the summer of 2008 I attended a conference hosted by Accenture in Rio. Sitting next to me for a good part of this event was the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This man was a Naval Admiral and a Harvard Ph.D. in applied math. He struck me as a soft-spoken, level-headed, plain-speaking man – certainly not someone inclined towards hyperbole. In addition, as his assistant informed me, he was very thick-skinned.
Turns out he had testified before a Congressional committee on the subject of global warming. His frank answer to the Chairman was that there was not enough evidence to conclude global warming is taking place. The Admiral took a lot of verbal disrespect for expressing such an unpopular view, but his expertise in weather patterns cannot be denied. Nor could the lack of expertise by the Senator who lambasted him.
In light of the data suggesting we may experience a cooler period, I find myself more respectful of the Admiral’s view.
This would be Admiral Lautenbacher, a Bush administration stooge appointee, with no climate science credentials, who muzzled actual US climate scientists from speaking out, a climate denier of whom Sen. McCain said in 2005 (back when he was still a maverick),
“You know, you are really one of the more astonishing witnesses in the 19 years I’ve been a member of this commitee Admiral. Because clearly you are in violation of the law…. And I again want to express my deep disappointment at your complete lack of concern about future generations of Americans that are affected by climate change which overwhelming scientific evidence… Let me just, because I’m sure you probably didn’t read it….. The National Academy of Sciences, along with National Academies of 10 other nations issued a joint statement on the global response to climate chage: The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions. And all we are asking from you is a report, and we can’t even get that.”
But I digress.
Leeb continues confusingly:
I was also struck by a recent article in the August 2009 issue of Science in which scientists found it nearly impossible to incorporate the effect of the sun into climate models. Variability and system feedbacks seem to have a bigger influence on temperatures than the sun’s radiation, even though we clearly get most of our heat from the sun.
Well, being unable to determine the sun’s role in a climate model is a bit like excluding the role of rainfall from agriculture.
Update: He apparently means, “Amplifying the Pacific Climate System Response to a Small 11-Year Solar Cycle Forcing” (subs. req’d), an explanatory study that has little bearing on climate change, as its final sentence makes clear: “This response also cannot be used to explain recent global warming because the 11-year solar cycle has not shown a measurable trend over the past 30 years.”
Our point is that we cannot assume the global warming theory is complete and proven. All
we know is that we are likely to experience some colder winters in the years ahead, and they will in turn affect the demand for energy.
Colder weather will certainly up the demand for natural gas, oil, and coal, which will in turn drive up the prices of these commodities.
Energy prices are correcting at the moment, as they usually do between the driving season and the heating season. However, if we have a cold winter, we can expect gas and oil prices will be bid up substantially within the next 2-3 months. If people start to realize that cooler winters are a long-term scenario, energy prices may receive a long-term bid as well.
Note how Leeb leaped from what he thinks (incorrectly) the consensus says “could” happen, to knowing that the likely net impact of future climate change will be colder weather that drives up the demand for fossil fuels.
For the record, something Leeb apparently never checks, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s, Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook, says:
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) most recent projection of heating degree-days, the Lower-48 States are forecast to be 1 percent warmer this winter compared with last winter and 1 percent milder than the 30-year average (1971-2000).
Yes, that’s right, Leeb believes the former head of NOAA, an anti-scientific denier, but doesn’t actually bother checking NOAA’s near-term forecast. And people pay money for his investment advice!
Once again, this bodes well for Brazil, a country which is a net energy exporter. It will impact other developing countries which will be consuming commodities hand over fist. And it will affect the U.S., where year-over-year energy prices show a positive gain despite the recent correction. By the start of next year, energy prices could easily be up 100% y-o-y. In the past, such a high rate of change has always signaled trouble for the stock market and the economy. If it happens this time, in the context of high unemployment, the impact could be worse.
Clearly, you should own energy stocks such as Schlumberger (SLB), the leading oil service company, Transocean (RIG), the leading deepwater driller, and others in our portfolio. The entire energy patch could see extraordinary gains in the years ahead – the result of a long-term trend that could force Al Gore to return his Nobel Prize.
Okay, Leeb is obviously your mainstream rightwinger — the Gore reference by itself makes for an almost ironclad diagnosis of anti-science syndrome (ASS).
I don’t generally give out investment advice, but in this case I will make a slight exception. If you believe in disinformation and not science, if you think we are headed into a long-term cooling trend, then Dr. Stephen Leeb is obviously the guy to place all your money with.