Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Freeman Dyson speaks on climate modeling ...

… in a recent interview: Freeman Dyson Takes On the Climate Establishment. Jerry Pournelle says this is important.

The interviewer is Michael Lemonick, not a scientist but a science journalist and teacher of science journalism. Judging from his latest at the same site, As Effects of Warming Grow, U.N. Report is Quickly Dated, he is firmly in the alarmist camp.

The whole interview is available at the site as a streaming sound file, which reveals that the transcript is heavily edited, with some sections transposed, some just cut. For instance, here is my transcription of what was said during the ellipsis between "That’s the crucial point: I don’t see the evidence..." and "And why should you imagine that the climate of the 18th century —"

Dyson: That's the crucial point: I don't see the evidence. I mean, about the Sahara, which is something they never discuss, which to me is one of the strong points that — I don't know if you're familiar with that —

Lemonick: No I'm not.

Dyson: Anyway, six thousand years ago, we know, absolutely for sure, there were people in the central Sahara drawing paintings on the rocks, and lots of them. There are lots of these paintings. They show people with herds of animals, giraffes and cows and such, apparently living there quite happily. We know at the same time, six thousand years ago, that there were forests in the north of Russia, much further north than they are today, so the climate was definitely warmer. There probably was ice-free Arctic. We don't know that for sure. It's very likely, since the climate was warmer, it's quite likely that the ocean was ice-free. What we do know for sure is there were trees in the valleys in Switzerland underneath where there are glaciers today. So the glaciers were even smaller then than they are now. So anyway, you put that all together, it implies that six thousand years ago there was a much warmer climate in the North, and there was a very much pleasanter climate in Africa. That seems to me to be a very strong argument that a warmer climate may be good for us. I can't imagine why you'd want to keep the Sahara a desert.

Lemonick: Right.

Dyson: So anyway, I mean, nobody ever discusses that.

Lemonick: I would guess the argument would be that if the Sahara became fertile again, or had a lot of rain again, and if Siberia became more hospitable, and Greenland became more hospitable, other changes might well — that you couldn't necessarily twist that dial without doing something else over here, because it's all interconnected, and that it's plausible at least that some of those changes could be very harmful to large numbers of people, so

Dyson: Yeah, that's possible, that certainly is possible, but it's pure speculation. Nobody knows. And why you should imagine that the climate of the 18th century, or whatever it is, what they call pre-industrial climate, is somehow the best possible, I can't imagine.
No idea why that would have been omitted. Why would anyone want to keep the Sahara a desert? Mr. Gore, speak up please.

Here earlier: Freeman Dyson on scientific attitudes toward "global warming."

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