One of the Planet’s Great Scientists: “Global Warming Isn’t as Big a Problem as Disease or Poverty”
Famous physicist, author, and visionary Freeman Dyson has been making enemies with his critical stance on global warming. It’s important to note that even he, an outspoken opponent, doesn’t deny that it’s happening – he just doesn’t think it’s that big a deal.
How does on octogenarian author get people so upset? Well, calling Al Gore a preacher and comparing the climate control movement to a religious cult is a fantastic way to start. If you ever want to piss off a scientist, call them a religion. Disagreeing with them is one thing – accusing them of doctrine is another.
We should welcome smart people who oppose popular conclusions. We might disagree, but we should enter into debate to do so.
Dyson agrees with the prevailing view that there are rapidly rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused by human activity. To the planet, he suggests, the rising carbon may well be a MacGuffin, a striking yet ultimately benign occurrence in what Dyson says is still “a relatively cool period in the earth’s history.” The warming, he says, is not global but local, “making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter.” Far from expecting any drastic harmful consequences from these increased temperatures, he says the carbon may well be salubrious — a sign that “the climate is actually improving rather than getting worse,” because carbon acts as an ideal fertilizer promoting forest growth and crop yields. “Most of the evolution of life occurred on a planet substantially warmer than it is now,” he contends, “and substantially richer in carbon dioxide.” Dyson calls ocean acidification, which many scientists say is destroying the saltwater food chain, a genuine but probably exaggerated problem. Sea levels, he says, are rising steadily, but why this is and what dangers it might portend “cannot be predicted until we know much more about its causes.”