The New York Times did an article on physicist Freeman Dyson, who is often cited as one of most high-profile ‘climate change skeptics.’ Well-known for his award-winning books, and important earlier work in physics, Dyson is now being called “a pompous twit,” “a blowhard,” “a cesspool of misinformation,” “an old coot riding into the sunset” and, perhaps inevitably, “a mad scientist,” says the New York Times.
Dyson says climate change is nothing to be concerned about. He says global warming, which he doesn’t dispute is occuring, may be preventing another on-coming ice age, and any warming could be combatted by adding more trees. Naturally, C02 causes trees to grow at a faster rate, Dyson contends, so climate change may lead to a rapid growth in trees worldwide. Dyson estimates that an extra one trillion trees would be needed to bring the earth’s temperature back down, and is interested in engineering ‘carbon-eating’ trees that could sequester more carbon than existing ones. Dyson also sees solar energy affordable and widespread within 50 years.
Dyson thinks worries about climate change take focus away from real problems such as species loss and the collapse of biodiversity in many ecosystems. Dyson says the factors driving these trends are too complicated to be solely linked to climate change.
Dyson seems unconcerned by climate change because he has faith in ‘human ingenuity’ and the ability for new technologies to provide a solution. In the article, former Caltech president Marvin Goldberger said Dyson exemplifies that ‘human ingenuity’:“You point Freeman at a problem and he’ll solve it,” Goldberger says. “He’s extraordinarily powerful.”
Photo credit: Eugene Richards for The New York Times