"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Freeman Dyson's Heresies

Freeman Dyson, FRS, in addition to being famed as Esther Dyson's dad, is an accomplished fellow, and in my personal pantheon famous for Dyson's Aphorism:
[NB: paraphrased from memory; an exact quote would be appreciated]

Interviewer: (something like) Do you ever find yourself wondering why you are so intelligent?

Dyson: (something like) I don't think I'm especially intelligent. I am occasionally astonished at how unintelligent most other people are, though.
I am fond of the quote especially because I have had close dealings with other people who have a similar peculiar flavor of humility. It's interesting that extraordinarily smart people need defense mechanisms at all, never mind that they can manage to stick with such an unconvincing one.

Anyway, Dyson's gone on record with his global warming skepticism, which I am sure he comes by honestly. I don't think we should dismiss him along with the Singers and Michaelses. This is reported on Slashdot, where the usual sorry chorus ensues.

I haven't read any of it yet; just a heads up at present.

Like most of our more or less serious-minded critics, Dyson is getting on, and may be more familiar with the very nascent state of climate science a generation ago and less so with the considerable progress since then. Still, I am guessing his thoughts ought to be worth considering.

Update: I review Dyson's article here. In short I find it very disappointing.

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