The Heretical Views of Freeman Dyson

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Global warming greatly exaggerated?

What's wrong with Freeman Dyson?

Maybe the climate models he's criticizing are off - but perhaps he hasn't seen the pine beetle destruction across North America - all the way from British Columbia to New Mexico. Perhaps he hasn't seen the dry, hot weather across California. Perhaps he hasn't seen the melting Glaciers in Glacier National Park. Perhaps he hasn't seen the mild winters in the Rockies. Perhaps he hasn't gotten out of his air-conditioned office...

This is what happens when you get too smart. I agree with his principal point - that PhDs are, for the most part, a bunch of nerds who are too busy examining parts of the elephant to see the animal itself. I even agree that we are not spending enough time working on poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. But to say that global warming is somehow less important misses the entire point. Of course they are all related. Of course we have to become radically more serious about sustainable development. But too say something this absurd? Really.

Here's where I do find myself agreeing with him:

I say the United States has less than a century left of its turn as top nation. Since the modern nation-state was invented, about the year 1500, a succession of countries have taken turns as top nation. First it was Spain, then France, then and Britain, than America. Each term lasted about 150 years. Ours began in 1920 so it should end about 2070.

I agree with his analysis as well:

The reason why each top nation's term comes to an end is that the top nation becomes overextended militarily, economically and politically. Greater and greater efforts are required to maintain the number one position. Finally, the overextension becomes so extreme that the whole structure collapses. Already we can see in the American posture today some clear symptoms of overextension.

But here's where he's missed the boat: the two are connected. If the United States decides to re-invent itself as a sustainable economy, it will lead for another 200 years, period. That is what Obama and Gore have figured out already, but somehow, this smart heretic has not connected the dots.

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This page contains a single entry by Christian Sarkar published on May 3, 2009 11:59 AM.

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