Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

Dysonism or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Coal

Last week’s New York Times Magazine contained a very interesting profile of Freeman Dyson. Dyson is a famed physicist, anti-war and anti-nuclear activist, and Obama supporter. He is also a global warming skeptic.

Actually, ‘global warming skeptic’ is a bit of a misnomer. From from I could glean from the article, Dyson agrees that the Earth is getting warmer and that human activity is probably responsible. His disagreements with the “consensus” touted by Al Gore et al. focus on what should be done about it. According to Dyson, the potential negative consequences of global warming have been overblown, and are partly offset by some positive consequences that a warmer earth might bring. In addition, what negative consequences global warming does bring can be ameliorated much lower cost than what would be required to stop climate change simply by controlling emissions (Dyson’s own preferred solution is to use massive carbon sequestration, possibly with plants genetically engineered to eat up large amounts of carbon).

Here is a taste: Continue reading

April 1, 2009 Posted by | China, Environmentalism, Global Warming, Poverty | Leave a comment

Why McCain Scares Me

Writing in Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria does a fairly decent job of explaining the elements of Senator McCain’s foreign policy vision that I find so disturbing:

On March 26, McCain gave a speech on foreign policy in Los Angeles that was billed as his most comprehensive statement on the subject. It contained within it the most radical idea put forward by a major candidate for the presidency in 25 years. Yet almost no one noticed.

In his speech McCain proposed that the United States expel Russia from the G8, the group of advanced industrial countries. Moscow was included in this body in the 1990s to recognize and reward it for peacefully ending the cold war on Western terms, dismantling the Soviet empire and withdrawing from large chunks of the old Russian Empire as well. McCain also proposed that the United States should expand the G8 by taking in India and Brazil—but pointedly excluded China from the councils of power.

We have spent months debating Barack Obama’s suggestion that he might, under some circumstances, meet with Iranians and Venezuelans. It is a sign of what is wrong with the foreign-policy debate that this idea is treated as a revolution in U.S. policy while McCain’s proposal has barely registered. What McCain has announced is momentous—that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war.


May 29, 2008 Posted by | China, Politics, War and Peace | Leave a comment

Why Does the Israeli/Palestinian Situation Get So Much Attention?

Why does the Israeli/Palestinian conflict garner so much attention and generate so much passion, as compared to other similar sorts of conflicts (e.g. Chechnya or Kashmir). Today at Real Clear Politics, Dennis Prager offers some possible reasons (his choice of comparisons is the situation in Tibet). Of the seven reasons he gives, two seem especially plausible:

China. If Tibet had been crushed by a white European nation, the Tibetans would have elicited far more sympathy. But, alas, their near-genocidal oppressor is not white. And the world does not take mass murder committed by non-whites nearly as seriously as it takes anything done by Westerners against non-Westerners. Furthermore, China is far more powerful and frightening than Israel. Israel has a great army and nuclear weapons, but it is pro-West, it is a free and democratic society, and it has seven million people in a piece of land as small as Belize. China has nuclear weapons, has a trillion U.S. dollars, an increasingly mighty army and navy, is neither free nor democratic, is anti-Western, and has 1.2 billion people in a country that dominates the Asian continent.

[T]elevision news, the primary source of news for much of mankind. Aside from its leftist tilt, television news reports only what it can video. And almost no country is televised as much as Israel, while video reports in Tibet are forbidden, as they are almost anywhere in China except where strictly monitored by the Chinese authorities. No video, no TV news. And no TV, no concern.

In addition to the candidates mentioned by Prager, I would add the following: Continue reading

March 25, 2008 Posted by | China, Israel | Leave a comment