After a stint at the Obama Energy Department, Steven Koonin reclaims the science of a warming planet from the propaganda peddlers.
Beyond the Hype
Please consider the Wall Street Journal report How a Physicist Became a Climate Truth Teller
Barack Obama is one of many who have declared an “epistemological crisis,” in which our society is losing its handle on something called truth.
Thus an interesting experiment will be his and other Democrats’ response to a book by Steven Koonin, who was chief scientist of the Obama Energy Department. Mr. Koonin argues not against current climate science but that what the media and politicians and activists say about climate science has drifted so far out of touch with the actual science as to be absurdly, demonstrably false.
Mr. Koonin is a Brooklyn-born math whiz and theoretical physicist, a product of New York’s selective Stuyvesant High School. He would teach at Caltech for nearly three decades, serving as provost in charge of setting the scientific agenda for one of the country’s premier scientific institutions. Along the way he opened himself to the world beyond the lab.
From deeply examining the world’s energy system, he also became convinced that the real climate crisis was a crisis of political and scientific candor. He went to his boss and said, “John, the world isn’t going to be able to reduce emissions enough to make much difference.”
His thoughts seem to be governed by an all-embracing realism. Hence the book coming out next month, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters.”
“I’ve been building models and watching others build models for 45 years,” he says. Climate models “are not to the standard you would trust your life to or even your trillions of dollars to.” Younger scientists in particular lose sight of the difference between reality and simulation:
For the record, Mr. Koonin agrees that the world has warmed by 1 degree Celsius since 1900 and will warm by another degree this century, placing him near the middle of the consensus. Neither he nor most economic studies have seen anything in the offing that would justify the rapid and wholesale abandoning of fossil fuels, even if China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and others could be dissuaded from pursuing prosperity.
The public now believes CO2 is something that can be turned up and down, but about 40% of the CO2 emitted a century ago remains in the atmosphere. Any warming it causes emerges slowly, so any benefit of reducing emissions would be small and distant. Everything Mr. Koonin and others see in the science suggests a slow, modest effect, not a runaway warming. If they’re wrong, we don’t have tools to apply yet anyway. Decades from now, we might have carbon capture—removing CO2 directly from the atmosphere at a manageable cost.
Even John Kerry, Joe Biden’s climate czar, recently admitted that Mr. Biden’s “net-zero” climate plan will have zero effect on the climate if developing countries don’t go along (and they have little incentive to do so). Mr. Koonin hopes that “a graceful out for everybody” will be to see the impulse for global climate regulation “morph into much more impactful local environmental action: smog, plastic, green jobs. Forget the global aspect of this.”
Slow Modest Impact
The above article is right in line with my stated belief all along.
I do not doubt the temperatures have risen a degree. I do mock the associated fears.
I am highly skeptical of radical models and I also mock the notion that the world as we know it will soon end and that climate change is the "existential threat of our time” as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has stated.
I am not at all convinced that climate change is totally or mostly man-made but actually that is irrelevant.
Science suggests a slow modest impact. The models anticipate another rise in the oceans of 1 inch by 2050. Heck call it 3 or 4 inches and expect a foot by 2099 if you like.
50 Years of Dire Climate Forecasts and What Actually Happened
2014 John Kerry: "We have 500 days to Avoid Climate Chaos" discussed Sec of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabious at a joint meeting.
I list 21 predictions and what actually happened.
What Happens When Ice Melts?
Please factor in the cooling impact of melting ice on ocean temperatures. No one has decent models of ocean cooling.
Nature Magazine reports Melting Ice Could Slow Global Temperature Rise.
If there is a solution, it will be a free market solution not a solution by politicians hyperventilating about something that is now too late to stop and would be worth the cost even if we could stop it.
Name Calling Coming Up
Koonin knows he will get an avalanche of name-calling that befalls anybody trying to inject some practical nuance into political discussions of climate.
The article had a nice finishing touch: “My married daughter is happy that she’s got a different last name,” said Koonin.
To finish on the practical side, barring a major technological breakthrough, Global Net Zero Climate Change Targets are 'Pie in the Sky'
Don't worry, the world will still be here 50 years from now.