Tag Archives: Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson: the last 10 years have proven climate change models wrong

Apologetics and the progress of science
Apologetics and the progress of science

This interview with liberal scientist Freeman Dyson appeared in the UK Register.


The life of physicist Freeman Dyson spans advising bomber command in World War II, working at Princeton University in the States as a contemporary of Einstein, and providing advice to the US government on a wide range of scientific and technical issues.

He is a rare public intellectual who writes prolifically for a wide audience. He has also campaigned against nuclear weapons proliferation.

At America’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Dyson was looking at the climate system before it became a hot political issue, over 25 years ago. He provides a robust foreword to a report written by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cofounder Indur Goklany on CO2 – a report published[PDF] today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

An Obama supporter who describes himself as “100 per cent Democrat,” Dyson says he is disappointed that the President “chose the wrong side.” Increasing CO2 in the atmosphere does more good than harm, he argues, but it is not an insurmountable crisis. Climate change, he tells us, “is not a scientific mystery but a human mystery. How does it happen that a whole generation of scientific experts is blind to obvious facts?”


What has happened in the past 10 years is that the discrepancies between what’s observed and what’s predicted have become much stronger. It’s clear now the models are wrong, but it wasn’t so clear 10 years ago. I can’t say if they’ll always be wrong, but the observations are improving and so the models are becoming more verifiable.

[…]It’s very sad that in this country, political opinion parted [people’s views on climate change]. I’m 100 per cent Democrat myself, and I like Obama. But he took the wrong side on this issue, and the Republicans took the right side.

Is carbon dioxide as bad as the politicians say?


To any unprejudiced person reading this account, the facts should be obvious: that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide as a sustainer of wildlife and crop plants are enormously beneficial, that the possibly harmful climatic effects of carbon dioxide have been greatly exaggerated, and that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage.

I consider myself an unprejudiced person and to me these facts are obvious. But the same facts are not obvious to the majority of scientists and politicians who consider carbon dioxide to be evil and dangerous. The people who are supposed to be experts and who claim to understand the science are precisely the people who are blind to the evidence.

[…]The scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence.”

E. Calvin Beisner had more to say about beneficial effects of CO2 on agriculture in an article on the Stream.

He writes:

To call CO2 “carbon pollution” is not only bad chemistry and bad toxicology but also bad biology. Carbon dioxide is essential to all plant growth. The higher its concentration, the better plants grow. Below 170 ppm, plants die. At the roughly 280 ppm at the start of the Industrial Revolution, plants are “sucking air,” so to speak — barely getting enough. At today’s 400 ppm, plants grow much better — so much better that a study by researchers at the Technische Universität München found forests around the world growing up to 70 percent faster today than 50 years ago because of it. Earth is literally greening because of added CO2.

Plants will grow still better as CO2 concentration continues to rise. Thousands of empirical studies, as opposed to mere models, have found that, on average, for every doubling of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, there is about a 35 percent increase in the efficiency of plant growth. Plants grow better in wetter and drier soils and in warmer and colder temperatures, widening their ranges and increasing their adaptability to climate changes, reducing the risk of biodiversity loss. They make better use of soil nutrients, better resist diseases and pests, and improve the ratio of fruit to fiber.

The consequence is more food for plant-eaters and eaters of plant eaters — i.e., for pretty much everything. Most importantly, it means more affordable food for the world’s poor.

A review of the refereed literature on the subject found “the … monetary value of this benefit amount[ed] to a total sum of $3.2 trillion over the 50-year period 1961–2011. Projecting the monetary value … forward … reveals it will likely bestow an additional $9.8 trillion on crop production between now and 2050.”

So honest, well-informed discussion of any policy — cap and trade, “carbon tax,” renewable mandates, etc. — to reduce CO2 emissions should first recognize the benefits of increasing its concentration in the atmosphere, not just for people but for all animals. Any rationale for reducing emissions must prove that they exact a cost that outweighs this benefit.

Ah, but being honest about the benefits would not allow our democratic socialist betters to have the platform they need to convince us to let them rule us, and control our lives down to the temperatures in our homes, what cars we drive and how much we can drive.


At last some honesty on global warming alarmism

You may have read something about the NYT article a while back that discussed the brilliant scientist Freeman Dyson and his opposition to global warming.

Excerpt from the NYT article:

Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology and has a withering aversion to scientific consensus.

…IT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO that Dyson began publicly stating his doubts about climate change. Speaking at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, Dyson announced that “all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.” Since then he has only heated up his misgivings, declaring in a 2007 interview with Salon.com that “the fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn’t scare me at all” and writing in an essay for The New York Review of Books, the left-leaning publication that is to gravitas what the Beagle was to Darwin, that climate change has become an “obsession” — the primary article of faith for “a worldwide secular religion” known as environmentalism.

Among those he considers true believers, Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.”

Well, the NYT got a fascinating letter to the editor in response to their profile of Dyson. The letter came from a graduate student at Harvard named Monika Kopacz.

The letter is excerpted in First Things (H/T The Weekly Standard):

It is no secret that a lot of climate-change research is subject to opinion, that climate models sometimes disagree even on the signs of the future changes (e.g. drier vs. wetter future climate). The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’ — and readers’ — attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.

Remember, in 1975, the leftist magazine Newsweek propped up the global cooling as the crisis-du-jour.

Excerpt from an article from the Business and Media Institute:

It took 31 years, but Newsweek magazine admitted it was incorrect about climate change. In a nearly 1,000-word correction, Senior Editor Jerry Adler finally agreed that a 1975 piece on global cooling “was so spectacularly wrong about the near-term future.”

Even then, Adler wasn’t quite willing to blame Newsweek for the incredible failure. “In fact, the story wasn’t ‘wrong’ in the journalistic sense of ‘inaccurate,’” he claimed. “Some scientists indeed thought the Earth might be cooling in the 1970s, and some laymen – even one as sophisticated and well-educated as Isaac Asimov – saw potentially dire implications for climate and food production,” Adler added.

Journalists, lacking marketable skills, support socialism. They believe that their word-smithing skills are more worthy than the practical skills of engineers and entrepreneurs. Socialism is their way of regaining the accolades they lost once they left the safe confines of the public school classroom.

Any myth that will allow the government to seize control of the free-market must be supported, regardless of the evidence. And the same thing applies to Darwinism. Only in this case, the target is not the free market, but the church. And the goal is not redistribution of wealth, but autonomy from moral judgments and moral constraints.

For more on scientific opposition politics masquerading as science, see here.