The New York Times March 29 magazine cover article was a profile of renowned physicist Freeman Dyson. Freeman Dyson does not believe that global warming is a problem. While he admits that he cannot know this for certain, it’s his contention that concerns about climate change are overblown and misguided, that other issues (e.g. poverty) are more pressing, and that we will be able to address high levels of carbon in the atmosphere through innovative means that don’t focus on limiting the production of carbon dioxide.
Dyson may be right. I hope so, since carbon in the atmosphere continues to rise. But what if he’s wrong? Dyson is 85. He will not see the future effects of his and my generation’s choices, but his grandchildren will. What will they say about their brilliant grandfather’s efforts to divert attention from limiting carbon? What if Dyson is wrong, as the great majority of climate scientists believe? Dyson’s big error, in my opinion, is misdirected optimism. Let’s focus on poverty, yes, but not by burning more coal. Let’s expend our energies toward clean and green technologies and solve two problems at once. Let’s not be overly optimistic about our capacity to produce super carbon-sucking plants, and instead embrace the precautionary principle to ensure that our grandchildren have a viable future. If Dyson is right, hallelujah. If he’s wrong, too much is at stake.
Filed under: Environmental Preservation, global warming, Least Harm, systemic change Tagged: | climate change, climate skeptics, Freeman Dyson, global warming, physicists, precautionary principle, systemic change