Daily Archives: May 6, 2014

Freeman Dyson and Global Climate Change

The climate change deniers have been saying that I need to see what Freeman Dyson has to say about global climate change.  I found two links in the article Freeman Dyson– ally in the Climate War on JunkScience.com All the Junk That’s Fit to Debunk. I was confused by this authors comments, but he did provide links to two good article.

The Case for Blunders by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books

In Livio’s list of brilliant blunderers, Darwin and Einstein were good losers, Kelvin and Pauling were not so good, and Hoyle was the worst. The greatest scientists are the best losers. That is one of the reasons why we love the game. As Einstein said, God is sophisticated but not malicious. Nature never loses, and she plays fair.

after you read the next article, decide whether or not you think Freeman Dyson is a good loser, a sore loser, or if he is even a loser at all.

In The  New York  Times Magazine The Civil Heretic by Nicholas Dawidoff.

Climate-change specialists often speak of global warming as a matter of moral conscience. Dyson says he thinks they sound presumptuous. As he warned that day four years ago at Boston University, the history of science is filled with those “who make confident predictions about the future and end up believing their predictions,” and he cites examples of things people anticipated to the point of terrified certainty that never actually occurred, ranging from hellfire, to Hitler’s atomic bomb, to the Y2K millennium bug.

I always have to laugh at the people who cite the Y2K millenium bug as something that turned out not to be worth worrying about because the disaster never struck.  Of course it never struck.  People took note of the warning and spent billions of dollars fixing computer programs to remove the bug before Y2K hit.  Should we ignore the Global Climate Change warning this time  to see if it might turn out to be nothing?  Thank goodness people with computer programs did not take this attitude about Y2K.

Of course, there is much more in the two articles just above.  You can’t judge Freeman Dyson on just the quote that I have excerpted.

Read the article and judge for yourself as to how much weight you want to give Freeman Dyson’s opinion on Global Climate Change.  He may play a useful role in the debate and in the long run he could even turn out to be right, but I am still not on his side of the argument.  The proponents of Global Climate Change could prove to be wrong in the long run or could prove to be wrong on the magnitudes of what they are predicting, but I think the odds weigh on the side of taking out insurance on the likelihood that they are more right than wrong.

If you read about the puzzle posed to Freeman Dyson, you could spend some time thinking about it. Then you could look at the article Puzzle Answers From a 4th-Grader and Freeman Dyson By John Tierney.

What to Do Next About Global Warming? – Alan Robock on Reality Asserts Itself (5/5)

The Real News Network has the final installment What to Do Next About Global Warming? – Alan Robock on Reality Asserts Itself (5/5) .

ROBOCK: That’s right. But, you know, California is one of the biggest economies in the world. I think it’s the seventh largest economy in the world. And they’re moving rapidly toward much more environmentally friendly actions. But they don’t have net metering in California, so people, when they build a–put solar panels on their roof, there’s no incentive to generate more than they use, because if they run the meter backwards, they don’t get paid for it, because the electric power companies are so strong.

JAY: How many states have that?

ROBOCK: I don’t know. I know in New Jersey we do have net metering. And one of the arguments is, well, you know, if you don’t pay anything to the electric power company, why should they provide you–serve as a battery for you? Why should they take your power and give it to you at night when you don’t need it? And one of the answers is, well, I generate electricity in the middle of the day when there’s the biggest demand, and they don’t have to build a new generator because of that. So up to a certain level it really helps them out

This episode of the series is another example of a fairly careful scientist sticking to what he knows despite invitations from the interviewer to speculate on the unknowable.