Dyson did not deny that the world was getting warmer. What he doubted was the models of the climatologists, and the grave consequences they predicted, and the supposition that global warming is bad. “I went to Greenland myself, where the warming is most extreme,” he said. “And it’s quite spectacular, of course, what you see in Greenland. But what is also true is, the people there love it. The people there hope it continues. It makes their lives a lot more pleasant.”
Dyson argued that melting ice and the resulting sea-level rise is no cause for alarm. He said that the release of increasing volumes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is a very good thing, as it makes plants grow better. The important thing to remember, he said, is that the planet is warming mainly in places that are cold, and at night rather than during the day, so that the phenomenon is essentially making the climate more even, rather than just making everything hotter.
Dyson is a distinguished physicist.
(I chose not to interview Dyson afresh for this essay, not from any impatience with his mental walkabouts, but because what I wanted to address here were his public statements on climate change, the environment, and technology.)
I tried to drive us to a restaurant that Dyson knew from his spaceship days. We overshot it by a mile going east, because Dyson got lost in some long chain of cogitation, and then we overshot it going west, and then overshot it going east again. Each time, Dyson would apologize, but remorse did not save him from falling again, just a few yards down the road, into some black pothole of cerebration.
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