My latest article for The New Ledger centers around the New York Times’s recent profile of physicist Freeman Dyson and his stance on global warming and climate change. An excerpt:
Given his brilliance and his politics, Freeman Dyson makes for what Al Gore might have called a very inconvenient opponent of the movement against climate change. He acknowledges that his arguments may be wrong, but he believes strongly that he is right. He also brings a good point to the table; whatever one’s opinions concerning climate change, the fact is that any effort to curtail it will result in less money, manpower, and resources being available to fight poverty, and disease, and that many of the proposed solutions for climate change would result in reduced standards of living that may result in the loss of life in the developing world.
Dyson differs from many of his intellectual opponents because of his faith in humanity and his respect for human progress. As John Tierney puts it, “While so many other scientists and intellectuals fret about humans ruining the planet — and some even revel in fantasies about a world free of our pernicious presence — Mr. Dyson has long had faith in humans’ ability to deal with problems like nuclear weapons and global warming.”
Dyson’s appreciation for human ingenuity sets him apart, and whatever one’s opinions concerning global warming, Dyson has much to teach the scientific community and much of the punditocracy concerning the ability of human beings to be viewed as part of the solution to a particular problem, rather than as part of the problem.
As I argue in my piece, Dyson’s example ought to inject some humility and some appreciation for costs and benefits in the debate about climate change. I also put forth a proposal I signed onto two years ago, one that hopefully takes into account the best arguments from both sides of the climate change debate. Read it all.