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March 26, 2009

NYT Profiles Freeman Dyson, Phycisist Emeritus, Global Warming Skeptic

Mostly sympathetically -- they can't avoid noting the liberal suspicion he's merely going senile, and the article suggests several times that he is merely a contrarian for the sake of contrarianism, so why pay him any heed? He's just trying to resist consensus to keep the science unsettled and self-examining, you know. Certainly he doesn't believe the crap he's saying.

Freeman Dyson has been notably un-noted by the MSM for quite some time-- despite being "infinitely brilliant," as one colleague says, they just haven't bothered to report his serious and quite well-credentialed skepticism of global warming. For the two usual reasons: They didn't want to provide this particular fire with any oxygen, and trashing a genius like Dyson -- and not merely a genius, but a beloved genius -- would require too much effort and nuance.

Note the lack of context supplied here:

A particularly distressed member of that public was Dyson’s own wife, Imme, who, after seeing the film in a local theater with Dyson when it was released in 2006, looked at her husband out on the sidewalk and, with visions of drowning polar bears still in her eyes, reproached him: “Everything you told me is wrong!” she cried.

“The polar bears will be fine,” he assured her.

This suggests that Dyson just doesn't care about polar bears. In fact, Dyson is certainly referring to the fact that polar bears swim all the time, and are frequently "stranded" on melting icebergs. Icebergs are always floating about the ocean and melting -- that's what they do. He's referring to the fact that Al Gore's picture of "drowning" polar bears is and always was a sham, a picture removed from the context that the iceberg was fairly near the coast. As this Australian TV report notes.

But as the article has it, Dyson simply dismisses any concern about the drowning polar bears.

I suppose there's a limit to how much truth the Times is willing to print.

Still, while the reporter dutifully suggests Dyson is just a cranky old crank you don't need to listen to, the story still manages to get out. Dyson doesn't think much of Al Gore or NASA's James Hanson, for example:

IT WAS FOUR YEARS AGO that Dyson began publicly stating his doubts about climate change. Speaking at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, Dyson announced that “all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.” Since then he has only heated up his misgivings, declaring in a 2007 interview with Salon.com that “the fact that the climate is getting warmer doesn’t scare me at all” and writing in an essay for The New York Review of Books, the left-leaning publication that is to gravitas what the Beagle was to Darwin, that climate change has become an “obsession” — the primary article of faith for “a worldwide secular religion” known as environmentalism. Among those he considers true believers, Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change’s “chief propagandist,” and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models that foresee a Grand Guignol of imminent world devastation as icecaps melt, oceans rise and storms and plagues sweep the earth, and he blames the pair’s “lousy science” for “distracting public attention” from “more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet.”

...

. Climate models, he says, take into account atmospheric motion and water levels but have no feeling for the chemistry and biology of sky, soil and trees. “The biologists have essentially been pushed aside,” he continues. “Al Gore’s just an opportunist. The person who is really responsible for this overestimate of global warming is Jim Hansen. He consistently exaggerates all the dangers.”

But what about the polar bears?

Worth reading. The link goes to excepts at NewsBusters, but worth clicking through to the whole NYT article if this topic floats your icebergs.


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posted by Ace at 03:36 PM

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