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The Question of Global Warming - Freeman Dyson

  1. Jul 17, 2008 #1


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    Famous physicist and Planck Medal-winner, Freeman Dyson wrote an article on global warming controversy in The New York Review of Books

    It is a lengthy academic article, and is pretty interesting— he says what he wants to say.
    Nullius in verba, that's hardcore. Science is awesome.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2008 #2
    It's sad really. Unless we see a change in the environmental movement, or a magical invention that produces electricity out of thin air (and again takes away the heat caused by the use of the electricity.) we may be on the verge of the fall of western society. (and the environmental movement with it.) If you have ever actually traveled overseas then you understand as I do that the United States is a very clean place (with the exception of a few major cities.) We have overcome pollution problems in our past through technology and perseverance, while other countries to this day carry on polluting without a care in the world! Man made global warming is just one in a long line of things that have distracted us from other countries pollution.

    Take for example China, booming economy, building power plants at an alarming rate. Yet do any of those plants meet US emissions standards? I think not. If China builds a refinery do you think they care about how clean the air is? Or how bad the water gets?This is despite the fact that the technology is readily available, and often cheaper in the long run. It's a lot easier to create the proper solution in the first place then to try and put it in after the fact, but why are we the public enemy number one?

    Look at these:
    Or my personal favorie of all time:
    So deadly you can't even safely walk on the shore, and they did it intentionaly.

    Yes when faced with international pressures these countries do make the minimal effort required to clean up their messes, but how many more messes will be made before they finish?

    The comparison that makes me the most irate is when countries are compared with pollution per capita. In effect it harms countries which have a relatively high quality of living, and at the same time ignores countries where there is a low quality of living except for the rich in the population. It reminds me of pre-civil war voting rules. It's like cooperation owners in these countries get to pollute extra for every person living in squalor. Yeah thats great thinking. While at the same time companies in the US should be punished because their workers live well? Why don't we also come up with a way for outdated plants to be payed to shutdown while new plants get to pay to pollute more. It even gives a reason for old plants to continue to exist after shutdown instead of the costly effort reclaim the potentially polluted land. Brilliant, we can call it carbon credits! I could get rich off it and make a movie, drive a hybrid car to my private jet. (just to show that I care.)

    I have seen no definitive evidence to support global warming, quite the contrary, I have seen a lot of people with fanatical beliefs that fervently oppose anyone who offers a different view point.

    To quote Terry Goodkind "People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool."

    For every action there is an unintended consequence. Imagine what will happen when the environmentalists discover that geothermal power cools the earth, or that solar takes heat away from the planet surface. Maybe we will develop cold fusion and then someone will talk about the hole in the deuterium layer in the Atlantic. Thats the problem though, with everything thats good in life comes someone these days that wants to make it look evil and bad.

    We have come a long way, but the planet has come much further, without our help. The science of today is the snake oil of tomorrow, and just as we once had a consensus that the sun revolved around the earth where all criticism was censored, we shall one day have a Copernican revolution of the environmental movement. My only hope is that we do not destroy western civilization before that comes, otherwise with it true environmentalism dies as well.
  4. Jul 18, 2008 #3
    Tell me about it.

    Not only the environmentalists:


    It may have gone unnoticed for him that large international enterprises strive for total quality in the entire chain, long term stability being much more important than short term profits. Therefore this alleged conspiracy, -apart from being false-, is unlogical as well, unless you let others do the thinking. But it would be interesting to see how Hansen is going to proof his accusations.

    Lawrence Solomon for instance, or Bjorn Lomborg.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2008
  5. Jul 18, 2008 #4
    I applaud you insight in calling attention to Dyson’s careful views. His theme is closer to that seen on this forum than greenhouse gas global warming linkers. It may be that a direct quarrel with the term global warming as inaccurate needs emphasis. Steven McIntyre has recently (http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=3231) shown both the MSU data processors have shown striking differences between the northern and southern hemisphere temperature patterns. Global seems very inappropriate for the satellite tracked pattern. Challenge of global warming is consistent with posted IPCC discussions and may cool some of the ardor.
  6. Jul 18, 2008 #5


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    There is a big problem with the AGW debate, that is 99% of the population have not read a single scientific paper about it, that figure is only a guess but i am willing to bet it is in the ball park, so far i am sure it is the media that motivates people to jump into the warming camp.
    The general population do not have the time or willingness to read paper after paper and weigh up the pros and cons, they have to be told, and it is the media telling them and it is the warmers telling the media.
  7. Jul 22, 2008 #6
    As I form this comment about wolram’s reply, I am watching the Senate climate hearings and looking at Trenberth and Spencer saying completely different things about the pattern and causes of climate change. The Senate is little less divided in its views. and recommendations. We will likely see actions taken that are futile if not dangerous, but our main ability is to speak of the problem with wider ranging comments and questions than have been offered before. In this direction, I have been making some calculations about energy production and spatial area of the planet. Solar and wind power are currently advocated for expansion to reduce fossil fuel use. They both need space on the planet’s surface and little analysis of this needed area has appeared. They also have consequences on the environment that are not well understood. Overall, what I find most amazing is the failure to consider solving the problem by directly increasing the Earth’s albedo. We could devote space to raise the reflection of sunlight into space to keep the planet’s temperature stable. Mirrors can clearly do this and even white paint raises local albedo. The only question is where and how much of the planet’s surface to devote to this process. Greenhouse gas advocates should favor larger areas than others. In this regard, I will start a new thread about possible bases other than greenhouse gases for the currently observed warming in a few days.
  8. Jul 22, 2008 #7
  9. Jul 22, 2008 #8
    The one seen over the last 29.5 years that appears now to be mitigating. I will offer a regional explanation to match the temperature rise distribution. I attach a figure of the table originally present in the carbon dioxide critiques that lost its tabular form. It describes the temperature pattern I will address. Thank you for showing attached materials in your replies on this forum.

    Attached Files:

  10. Jul 23, 2008 #9


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    Now we come to (IMHO) the most important part of the debate. The question of global warming becomes critical when people propose solutions that are not related to addressing the original cause. If CO2 emmisions are causing the planet to warm up, and we reduce these emmisions, we save the planet. If they're not, and we reduce them anyway, we have cleaned up the planet a bit, and that's good too.

    But when we talk about a plan to increase Earth's albedo, or that plan to incrase the the algea population by adding iron oxide to the oceans, the question is no longer trivial. Suppose one of these plans succeeds in lowering the Earth's surface temperature, and the temperature wasn't rising, to begin with? This is exactly the sort of thing that could trigger an ice age! Increase the albedo, and the temperaure goes down a little. The temperaure goes down, glaciers become larger. Glaciers get bigger, the albedo incrases more...

    Large mirrors all over the place wuold take up more space on the planet's surface than the proposed expansion of solar and wind power, and the effects are much less understood. Dumping tons of rusty metal into the seas to deliberately trigger a popultaion explosion among certain microbes will have consequences we can hardly begin to guess at, but we're already doing that. Frankly, that worries me a little.
  11. Jul 23, 2008 #10


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    I like the part where environmentalism is compared to a religion. Indeed, that's what it is. Religion has always been a bad advisor in scientific matters. That doesn't mean one shouldn't care about the place where one lives. In the same way one keeps one's house tidy, and one has a shower, one should keep the environment nice and livable. Just because life is better that way. Not because it has any intrinsic spiritual value. Not because Gaia must be honored.

    As to the possibility of AGW, I don't think that purely scientifically, we can be sure either way. We will also find out for sure in a few decades. By 2050, we will know. In the mean time, I think we should be careful, but we shouldn't be panicking. I think that in as much as we can, and without harming economy and lifestyle, we should try to cut down on the use of fossil fuels. For oil, that will go all by itself if the price keeps rising. For coal and gas, we should look for alternatives. We already have one that we know works well: nuclear power. So it is not that there isn't any solution there: we have at least one solution. That shouldn't stop us from looking at others, like wind, solar, biofuels, whatever. But we shouldn't put a burden upon people, like high priests demanding sacrifice for the glory of gaia. If by 2050, we find out that there ain't any AGW, or even that we are entering a new ice age, then we can use again all the coal we want, and pump up all the gas that we left. If it turns out that there is AGW (by then it should be noticable), then we have already done part of the way. If AGW turns out to be stronger than even the most pessimistic Realclimater preaches, then we will find out sooner, and then we can accelerate our pace to phasing out fossil fuels.

    But, read the advice written on the cover of the Hitchhicker's guide to the Galaxy:
  12. Jul 23, 2008 #11


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    I know that the Chelyabinsk factory polluted the nearby Lake seriously, but I have to say that this Wiki entry, and about all I can Google about that lake, sounds like anti-nuclear propaganda by environmentalists. I don't know the facts, but when one starts saying "as much radioactivity as released by the Hiroshima bomb", then this is typical anti-nuclear rhetoric for the following reason: the Hiroshima bomb didn't release huge amounts of radioactivity. Of course there was some fallout, and I won't deny that there were victims of that. But by far the huge number of victims and destruction that was the result of the Hiroshima bomb came from... the explosion and the gamma flash. So the radioactive pollution (although not inexistent of course) by the Hiroshima bomb wasn't so dramatic. But by making this comparison, one implicitly associates the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb to its radioactive pollution, and hence anything "worse that the radioactivity released by the Hiroshima bomb" must be something even more destructive.

    Let me make a comparison where exactly the same type of rhetoric falls flat on its face: let us say that we want to vilify the use of a car. We say that that car is setting off more carbon monoxide in the air over its lifetime than 100 blockbuster bombs did during the air raids in the second world war !

    You are going to say, rightly so, that it wasn't the carbon monoxide of the blockbusters that did the damage, it was the explosion ! So the comparison is pretty meaningless. Yes, blockbusters also made some smoke, and some that smoke was carbon monoxide, and maybe that harmed certain people. But you don't see the point in comparing the production of carbon monoxide by a blockbuster with that of a car. It tells you nothing about the harm of the car.
    Well, from the moment I see the phrase "more radioactivity than released by the Hiroshima bomb", I have the same impression. It wasn't the radioactivity that destroyed the city and burned the people. It was the explosion.
  13. Jul 23, 2008 #12


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    Hansen again. Yes, yes, "now we see the violence inherent in the system!" A full blown crimes against the state Stalinist, a caricature straight out of Dr Shivago.

    It is good only if reduction can be managed with out nose diving the economy. If saving the world is the goal, first look to Lomborg's group, for instance, who authored a study that asked, where does one get the most humanitarian benefit for a given amount of targeted finance? Turns out eliminating Malaria (nets, etc), clean water and the like are high on the list. CO2 reduction for AWG is not high on the list.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2008
  14. Jul 24, 2008 #13
    There will be times when sociologic case studies research the parallels between Lysenkoism and AGW witch hunt as cases of runaway groupthink.
  15. Jul 24, 2008 #14
    LURCH appears to believe that carbon dioxide’s rise underlies the recent warming process, echoing the IPCC. The IPCC has obtained the political acquiescence of all the developed World’s countries except the US. They recently met and the US once again pointed out the lack of commitment by now rapidly growing third World countries. 2050 was chosen as the new date target and the third World countries quickly disavowed any commitment. There is no way that carbon dioxide levels will do anything but rise in the foreseeable future. He can take solace in the fact that the carbon 14 content of his body will continue to fall, lowering his risk of cancer from this threat. Even with non-global warming, we can look forward to a return to Brian Fagan’s A.D.1000 Arctic. We can avoid this only by albedo increase, but I agree that international action is very unlikely. Albedo manipulation is a part of modern life, even if unintended. I watched Bill Moyer two nights ago making the US a villain in an Indonesian reforestation scheme justified as a carbon remover without consideration of its albedo lowering warming effect. The best thing about increasing albedo is its easy reversibility. By the way, I agree that iron encouragement of ocean algae is too hazardous to consider.

    vanesch is a critic of the pro-IPCC group. He is waiting for more upward trend before supporting action. He points out a clearly tragic problem, radioactive contamination by misuse of modern technology. He also shows that carbon gas causal assertions can distract from real problems. I certainly agree.
  16. Jul 24, 2008 #15


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    Maybe not all. Australia for instance seems to be only talking happy talk with regards to AWG. They plan to keep shovelling coal.

    PM Says Australia Will Export Coal Despite Global Warming
  17. Jul 25, 2008 #16


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    I don't say at all that one shouldn't take action, on the contrary. One should start taking action, but in a thoughtful way, with realistic and available solutions: one should reduce the consumption of fossil fuels whenever the possibility presents itself. However, I argue against drastic, panic-driven and unthoughtful actions which could potentially hurt economy, our life style and our well-being, like all those propositions of law-enforcement of symbolic, but totally inefficient and liberty-limiting actions which, IMO, are more inspired by the ideology of Green parties which now have gotten a false sense of legitimity, and use that to put forward all their pet dogmas.

    I will give you an example which makes me sick: in certain cities in Germany, if you build a new house, one is thinking of forcing you by law to put photovoltaic, subsidized panels on your rooftop, and the utility is obliged to buy your solar current at a higher-than-market price. This is totally ridiculous. If you calculate the money spend per kg of CO2 emission avoided, you come to a ridiculously high price. If you would have used that money otherwise, you would have avoided much more CO2 emission, and you wouldn't have infringed on people's freedom. This smells to me like ideology-enforcing: it doesn't matter so much that there is an efficient result, but rather that one influences people's mindset.

    Another example: when the ozone levels reach a critical level in France, all speedlimits in a certain area are lowered by 20 km/hr. The problem is that with cleaner cars, that threshold wasn't reached anymore since years, so one has lowered the threshold in order to be able to apply the measure still now and then. It has been shown that although lowering the speed on the highways from 130 km/hr to 110 km/hr DOES have a small positive effect, at lower velocities it is actually counter-productive: if you lower the speed limit from 90 to 70 km/hr, you get actually more traffic jams and that, and you produce MORE polluents which give rise to ozone-formation. And it is usually in urban areas that these measures are applied, and not out on the lone highway amongst farmland and woods. So this measure is totally counter productive. Nevertheless, it is maintained, for the stated reason that it "is a visible action and it makes people more aware of pollution problems". Such things, to me, are of an almost religious-dogmatic indoctrination, close to the Judeo-Christian principle of the need to suffer to obtain grace.
  18. Jul 25, 2008 #17


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    Orwell's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon_%28Animal_Farm%29" [Broken] (César in the French version) would have approved, both the German solar shingles and French dwindling speeds aspire to the heights of the animal windmill, though the German/French mandates could be improved by further story of the narrative. The mandates instead should have been "strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half."
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  19. Jul 30, 2008 #18
    mheslep notes the difference between rhetoric and reality in the “AGW” world. The models and assertions are overly simple and flawed and no-one is actually acting seriously to control or reverse carbon dioxide addition to the atmosphere. The most striking evidence of this is that Norway, one of the four countries with a carbon tax, runs its social programs by selling the world over 3 million barrels of oil a day. Then its leaders award the IPPC and an American politician the dynamite-based Nobel Peace prize for unsuccessfully advocating a plan that would destroy its social programs.

    vanesch gives us more comedy of national leadership with the solar panel requirement. Solar panels are unambiguous lowerers of local albedo and if expanded in future electric generation will probably need to be complemented by albedo raisers. No-one seems to grasp the essentials of the radiation balance model on which the IPCC assertions are based. One should stop highway construction, not just simply lower speed limits, if further carbon dioxide rise will actually destroy humanity. No-one is acting like they really believe this. We need, though, to make the scientific assertions match the actual observations. Weather and climate science still has a poor record in the prediction area. We now have the ability to measure the minutely increasing distance of the moon to predict its ultimate loss. We can do much better if we use our new tools carefully and without believing more in theory than in data. In contrast with the fluorocarbon control reaction to stratospheric cooling, the “AGW” non-reaction shows the lack of credibility of the argument and plan. Even worse, it has totally distorted the scientific understanding of the public and media. People want the planet to be better but they need to know how to make this happen.
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