1."if the trees could simply be persuaded to drop diamonds instead of leaves, repairing the damage to the atmosphere could be fast, "
Since when did charcoal become thermodynamically less stable than diamond? If the guilelessly visionary Freeman has left something out, it's the risk of forest fires
In 2. the problem is Archer's own selective memory:
" Why is it that Dyson’s remarkably creative powers of vision (carbon-eating trees for example) fail to come up with alternatives to the crude and ugly process of burning coal to generate electricity?"
Er, David, the Dyson I recall is perhaps the most eloquent and astute advocate of advanced nuclear power.
Anachronism bites back in item 3
. : "when the time scales start to reach hundreds and thousands of years, the people who pay in the future are not the same as the ones who benefit now.."
Just so. Given what science does for technology, and technology for economics, expect them to be thinner and richer , independent of what the environment does to evolution.
4. " I often find myself contemptuous of efforts to misrepresent science to a lay audience.. I’ve got kids at home whose future I worry about."
On that base note , the dueling tuba concert continues. Too bad the kids have to listen. And that their parents failed to read Dyson's 1977 article :
CAN WE CONTROL THE CARBON DIOXIDE
IN THE ATMOSPHERE?