Nullus in Verga

By May 27, 2008Global Warming

The June 12 issue of The New York Review of Books includes a fascinating analysis of the global warming hysteria by Freeman Dyson in “The Question of Global Warming,” a review of two new books on the topic, one by economist William Nordhaus and the other a compendium of papers from a 2005 conference at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Dyson’s comments bear scrutiny because he is a serious environmentalist and The New York Review of Books is on no one’s list of participants in the great right-wing conspiracy.

“Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion,” Dyson writes, adding that he believes the ethics of environmentalism are “fundamentally sound.” However, he notes that “some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith that belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet.”

Dyson points out gently that many passionate environmentalists believe this emphasis is misplaced, that there are more serious dangers to the planet that should take precedence. “Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment,” he said. But in the history of science, “it has often happened that the majority was wrong and refused to listen to a minority that later turned out to be right. It may—or may not—be that the present is such a time.”

After taking a shot at some climate change propaganda dispensed by the Royal Society of Great Britain, the equivalent of our National Academy of Sciences, Dyson cites the ancient motto of the Royal Society that the present members have apparently lost touch with, “Nullus in Verga,” which means, “Nobody’s word is final.”

Books cited:

  • Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto, edited by Ernesto Zedillo. (Paperback)
  • A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies, by William D. Nordhaus (Hardcover).
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    • Iain Palin says:

      “Nullus in verga”??? Actually it’s “Nullus in verba”, commonly translated as “Take nobody else’s word for it”. Thanks for the ironic demonstration of that.

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