The case of Freeman Dyson

Nicholas Dawidoff’s cover story/profile of Freeman Dyson in the New York Times Magazine characterizes Dyson as “The civil heretic.” Dyson is the distinguished scientist who has spent most of his life at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of essays that are published in the New York Review of Books and of books that win the approval of the New York Times.

For the past few years, however, Dyson has dissented from the global warming cult. The Times thus refers to him as a “civil heretic,” but there is no need for the adjective. AGW is a full blown cult, if not a religion. In any event, Dawidoff’s long cover story is interesting throughout. Here is a key paragraph:

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.”

Many distinguished scientists (particularly climate scientists) dissent from the anthropogenic global warming cult, though Dyson may be one of a kind in respects that Dawidoff’s article highlights. The article seems slightly misleading in giving no sense of the dissent within the profession to the stifling conformity that otherwise makes Dyson’s dissent newsworthy.

As of this morning, Dawidoff’s article is listed as the most popular article on the Times site. With President Obama proposing massively to raise taxes in the name of combating global warming, Dawidoff’s article could not be more timely.

UPDATE: RealClearPolitics has flagged Dawidoff’s article as “The global warming heretic.”

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