Winchester and Princeton scholar Dyson: hell, what does he know about AGW?
So says perhaps the world’s greatest living theoretical physicist Professor Freeman Dyson in a truly glorious exchange with the fervently warmist newspaper’s fervently warmist science editor Steve Connor. (H/T Mitcheltj)
Professor Dyson says:
I wish that The Independent would live up to its name and present a less one-sided view of the issues.
He’s talking, of course, about the ‘Independent’s’ stance on AGW. Of all the British media, not even the Guardian’s Environment pages have quite matched the zeal with which the Indie has promoted the great Man Made Global Warming narrative. Professor Dyson – born in Britain 87 years ago, a scholar at Winchester but a naturalised American, now based at Princeton university is not altogether convinced that the Indie’s alarmism has any factual basis whatsoever.
Here are some of the highlights. (Yes, it’s familiar stuff: but how good it is to see a man of Professor Dyson’s standing and intellect expressing it with such confidence and clarity).
On how the measures currently being taken against “climate change” are doing far more harm than good:
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.
On the intolerance of Warmists:
You complain that people who are sceptical about the party line do not agree about other things. Why should we agree? The whole point of science is to encourage disagreement and keep an open mind. That is why I blame The Independent for seriously misleading your readers. You give them the party line and discourage them from disagreeing.
With all due respect, I say good-bye and express the hope that you will one day join the sceptics. Scepticism is as important for a good journalist as it is for a good scientist.
On the narrow-minded dogmatism of Warmists and the lack of a ‘consensus’:
Among my friends, I do not find much of a consensus. Most of us are sceptical and do not pretend to be experts. My impression is that the experts are deluded because they have been studying the details of climate models for 30 years and they come to believe the models are real. After 30 years they lose the ability to think outside the models. And it is normal for experts in a narrow area to think alike and develop a settled dogma. The dogma is sometimes right and sometimes wrong. In astronomy this happens all the time, and it is great fun to see new observations that prove the old dogmas wrong.
Unfortunately things are different in climate science because the arguments have become heavily politicised. To say that the dogmas are wrong has become politically incorrect. As a result, the media generally exaggerate the degree of consensus and also exaggerate the importance of the questions.
On how the great AGW threat is based on nothing more than flawed computer models and unsupported assumptions:
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 look forward to the expert responses below explaining why this foolish old man has got it all wrong. After all, unlike top expert Sir Paul Nurse, Professor Dyson has never even managed to win himself a Nobel Prize.