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"Biotechnology could be a great equalizer, spreading wealth"

We mentioned British physicist Freeman Dyson the other day. Now we see that he has written a brilliant review that examines global warming fixes, and their costs, which in the case of the people of China and India would be so impoverishing they are unlikely to support them. Dyson is cool about manmade global warming, but he certainly thinks it can be fixed cost-effectively. He explains the Keeling Graph, created over 47 years of methodical measurements, which "demonstrates the strong coupling between atmosphere and plants". And he suggests how biotechnology could reduce carbon dioxide by 50%. Another key graph -

It is likely that biotechnology will dominate our lives and our economic activities during the second half of the twenty-first century, just as computer technology dominated our lives and our economy during the second half of the twentieth. Biotechnology could be a great equalizer, spreading wealth over the world wherever there is land and air and water and sunlight. This has nothing to do with the misguided efforts that are now being made to reduce carbon emissions by growing corn and converting it into ethanol fuel. The ethanol program fails to reduce emissions and incidentally hurts poor people all over the world by raising the price of food. After we have mastered biotechnology, the rules of the climate game will be radically changed. In a world economy based on biotechnology, some low-cost and environmentally benign backstop to carbon emissions is likely to become a reality.

Dyson is full of ideas. According to his biography -

He was born in Britain and worked as a civilian scientist for the Royal Air Force during World War II. He came to Cornell University as a graduate student in 1947 and worked with Hans Bethe and Richard Feynman, producing a user-friendly way to calculate the behavior of atoms and radiation. He also worked on nuclear reactors, solid-state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics, and biology, looking for problems where elegant mathematics could be usefully applied. He has spent most of his life as a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, taking time off to advise the US government and write books for the general public.

Dyson's books include Disturbing the Universe (1979), Weapons and Hope (1984), Infinite in All Directions (1988), Origins of Life (1986, second edition 1999), and The Sun, the Genome and the Internet (1999). He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 2000 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

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