letters | Critique of climate cause stirs controversy

Physicist is out of his element weighing in on climate change

Freeman Dyson (“Questionable beliefs and misunderstandings,” Opinion, Dec. 4) is a highly regarded theoretical physicist, but as in all technical matters, stature as a specialist in one discipline does not necessarily translate to sophisticated understanding of another.

Dyson is correct that aspects of climate science are not fully understood, and the same can be said for aspects of particle physics. However, his comments on climate science, such as there being “no real understanding” of what in the past has caused ice to increase and decrease over the Northern Hemisphere, and that the main effect of increasing carbon dioxide will be to make the “planet greener,” demonstrate that his knowledge of climate science is three to four decades out of date. His assertion that climate change should not be a serious and urgent concern, with implications for the well-being of people and ecosystems worldwide, is thoroughly inconsistent with contemporary science.

James J. McCarthy, Arlington

The writer is a professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.