Freeman Dyson On Why He's A Climate Change Skeptic
While a girl in my French class who earns her living arranging flowers for rich people told me she knows there's global warming, and knows it's caused by people, and knows it will be the ruin of the planet in short order unless we substantially change business and our lives and spend trillions stopping it...well, I know that I don't have a physics background, and that climatology is a complex science I don't understand, which is why I never blog on global warming/climate change.
I'm still not going to blog on it (I didn't go to bed last night a climatology idiot and wake up a climatology genius this morning), but I think this Q and A between Steve Connor and Freeman Dyson in the Telegraph is worth reading. An excerpt from Dyson's responses:
First, the computer models are very good at solving the equations of fluid dynamics but very bad at describing the real world. The real world is full of things like clouds and vegetation and soil and dust which the models describe very poorly. Second, we do not know whether the recent changes in climate are on balance doing more harm than good. The strongest warming is in cold places like Greenland. More people die from cold in winter than die from heat in summer. Third, there are many other causes of climate change besides human activities, as we know from studying the past. Fourth, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is strongly coupled with other carbon reservoirs in the biosphere, vegetation and top-soil, which are as large or larger. It is misleading to consider only the atmosphere and ocean, as the climate models do, and ignore the other reservoirs. Fifth, the biological effects of CO2 in the atmosphere are beneficial, both to food crops and to natural vegetation. The biological effects are better known and probably more important than the climatic effects. Sixth, summing up the other five reasons, the climate of the earth is an immensely complicated system and nobody is close to understanding it.
...I am saying that all predictions concerning climate are highly uncertain. On the other hand, the remedies proposed by the experts are enormously costly and damaging, especially to China and other developing countries. On a smaller scale, we have seen great harm done to poor people around the world by the conversion of maize from a food crop to an energy crop. This harm resulted directly from the political alliance between American farmers and global-warming politicians. Unfortunately the global warming hysteria, as I see it, is driven by politics more than by science. If it happens that I am wrong and the climate experts are right, it is still true that the remedies are far worse than the disease that they claim to cure.