Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson

Credentials

  • B.A. in Mathematics, University of Cambridge (1945). [3]
  • Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, (1946–47). [3]
  • Attended Cornell University in 1947 with a Commonwealth Fellowship. [3]
  • Research Fellow, University of Birmingham, 1949–51. [3]
  • Professor of physics at Cornell University, 1951. [3]

Background

Freeman Dyson is a retired physics professor who is known for his work in the area of electrodynamics. Dyson formerly worked as a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. [3]

According to Dyson's profile at the Institute for Advanced Study, “His most useful contribution to science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. Cornell University made him a professor without bothering about his lack of Ph.D.” [3]

Dyson holds honorary degrees from a number of universities, and has received numerous prizes for his work in the area of physics. [12]

In 2009, The New York Times reported on “Dyson's coming 'out of the closet as far as global warming is concerned',” with his views that “whatever inflammations the climate was experiencing might be a good thing because carbon dioxide helps plants of all kinds grow.” [1]

Stance on Climate Change

April 2015

In an interview by “Conversations that Matter,” Dyson argued that CO2 is beneficial due to “greening” vegetation and that continuing to burn fossil fuels will probably “do us good”: [13]

“The fact is, carbon dioxide will increase. We will continue to burn oil and coal, and probably it does us good. The Earth will get greener as a result.”

CO2 is so beneficial […] it would be crazy to try to reduce it,” Dyson said. “Man-made climate change is, on the whole, good.”

August 2007

In an essay at Edge, Dyson wrote: [4]

“My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models.” [13]

According to Dyson, “Everyone agrees that the climate is changing, but there are violently diverging opinions about the causes of change, about the consequences of change, and about possible remedies.” [13]

[…] “There is no doubt that parts of the world are getting warmer, but the warming is not global.” [13]

[…] “Opinions differ on the relative importance of the physical and biological effects, and on whether the effects [of increased atmospheric CO2], either separately or together, are beneficial or harmful.” [13]

May 15, 2003

In a review of  Vaclav Smil’s The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change in the The New York Review of Books, Dyson described global warming as a “misleading phrase”:

“As a result of the burning of coal and oil, the driving of cars, and other human activities, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of about half a percent per year […] the physical effects of carbon dioxide are seen in changes of rainfall, cloudiness, wind strength, and temperature, which are customarily lumped together in the misleading phrase 'global warming.'” [2]

Key Quotes

October 2015

Dyson wrote a forward for a Global Warming Policy Foundation (GPWF) report on “the good news” on carbon dioxide:

“I am hoping that the scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence.” [9]

April 2012

In an interview with Big Think, Dyson said it would be “foolish to do anything spectactular” to try to combat man-made climate change: [14]

March 2009

Dyson was quoted in a 2009 profile at The New York Times:

“'The costs of what Gore tells us to do would be extremely large,' Dyson said. 'By restricting CO2 you make life more expensive and hurt the poor. I’m concerned about the Chinese'.” [1]

Key Deeds

February 23, 2017

Freeman Dyson was a signatory of a petition (PDF) organized by Richard Lindzen of the Cato Institute urging President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the United Nations international convention on climate change (UNFCCC). [10]

In just a few weeks, more than 300 eminent scientists and other qualified individuals from around the world have signed the petition below,” Lindzen wrote in the letter. [10]

DeSmog investigated the list, and found that only a small handful of the signatories could be considered “even remotely ‘qualified’ or ‘eminent’ — but not in the field of climate science.” The list included individuals “interested in climate,” and one signatory who only identified as an “emailer who wished to sign the petition” while some signers provided no affiliation or address whatsoever.[11]

October 11, 2015

Freeman Dyson is interviewed in The Register's article, “Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more,” the same day the Global Warming Policy Foundation published “Carbon Dioxide: The Good News,” with the foreward written by Freeman Dyson. [8],[9]

In the foreward, Dyson argues that “carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does far more good than harm,” and “that the benefits clearly outweigh the possible damage.” [9] Dyson concludes the foreward by stating, “I am hoping that the scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence.” [9]

March 25, 2009

Freeman Dyson is the feature of an 8000 word article in The New York Times titled “The Civil Heretic.” The Times quotes Dyson as saying global warming may indicate that “the climate is actually improving rather than getting worse” because increased carbon would promote forest growth and crop yields. However, the internationally-regarded IPCC concludes that “climate change is expected to lead to salinisation and desertification of agricultural land.”

Although Dyson is a brilliant mind, and is revered as a physicist, he does not have a background in climate science. DeSmogBlog speculated how it seems strange that the Times would choose Nicholas Dawidoff, a sports writer (albeit an accomplished sports writer), to research and write an article on climate change.

June 12, 2008

Freeman Dyson publishes “The Question of Global Warming“ through The New York Review of Books. Dyson writes, “the only plausible explanation of the annual wiggle,” of CO2's PPM measurements, “and its variation with latitude is that it is due to the seasonal growth and decay of annual vegetation, especially deciduous forests, in temperate latitudes north and south.” [7]

November 1, 2005

Dyson spoke at a talk hosted by the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future where her argued the problems of global warming are “grossly exaggerated” and “take away money and attention from other problems that are more urgent and more important.” [15]

Affiliations

Publications

According to a search of 22,000 academic journals, Dyson has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles mainly in the area of quantum mechanics.

Dyson has articulated his “heretical” views on climate in an extensive article of his own [4] – which has been debunked on a point-by-point basis. [5]

Resources

  1. The Civil Heretic,” The New York Times, March 25, 2009.

  2. Freeman Dyson. “What a World!”, The New York Review of Books, May 15, 2003.

  3. freemon dyson: professor emeritus, sns,” sns.ias.edu. Accessed December 6, 2011.

  4. Freeman Dyson. “HERETICAL THOUGHTS ABOUT SCIENCE AND SOCIETY,” Edge, April 8, 2007.

  5. Michael Tobis. “Dyson Exegesis,” Only In It For The Gold, August 12, 2007.

  6. Freeman Dyson; Expert,” Heartland Institute.

  7. Freeman Dyson. ”The Question of Global Warming,” The New York Review of Books, June 12, 2008.

  8. Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more,” The Register, October 11, 2015. Archived November 16, 2015.

  9. Carbon Dioxide: The Good News,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation, October 11, 2015. Archived November 16, 2015.

  10. PETITION” (PDF), February 23, 2017. Richard Lindzen. PDF Archived at DeSmog.

  11. Graham Readfearn. “Climate Science Denier Richard Lindzen's List of 300 “Scientists” Sent to Trump Is the Usual Parade of Non-Experts,” DeSmog, February 27, 2017.

  12. “Freeman J. Dyson - Biography (detailed)” (PDF), retrieved from sns.ias.edu.

  13. Freeman Dyson on the Global Warming Hysteria April, 2015,” YouTube video uploaded by user “1000frolly,” April 6, 2016. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  14. Freeman Dyson: Climate Change Predictions Are 'Absurd',” YouTube video uploaded by user “Big Think,” April 23, 2012. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  15. Freeman Dyson: Heretical Thoughts About Science and Society,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Boston University,” March 30, 2010. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.