Koonin’s Unsettled Science – The Movie(s)

We have previously mentioned the Wall Street Journal’s assorted activities promoting the new book by Steven E. Koonin which possesses the rather long winded title of “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters.”

We further speculated that assorted things that climate science tells us which Dr. Koonin neglected to mention in his book would also not appear in moving pictures expounding his “message”. That has indeed proved to be the case. You can see a copy of the book in question handily placed on a bookshelf behind Steve Koonin in this interview with Paul Gigot for the Wall Street Journal:

By way of introduction Paul enquires:

What isn’t settled in your mind?

Steve responds:

What isn’t settled is how the climate is going to respond to growing human influences, and how that response will affect society and ecosystems.

A little later Paul asserts that:

There’s no question that fossil fuel extraction and burning adds carbon dioxide and methane and other things into the atmosphere. Is the issue just how the interactions work and how much warming they will cause? I mean Al Gore keeps telling us for example that if you look at the graph of CO2 emissions it’s going up, therefore there’s a direct correlation between that and temperature. I think you’re saying “that’s not true”?

to which Steve responds:

That’s not true! For example, when you look at the record global temperature went down between 1940 and 1970 even as greenhouse gases increased. That’s got to tell you immediately that things are a little more complicated than just greenhouse gases are warming the Earth.

So there you have it. Al Gore is a mere straw man, easily knocked down with a cherry pick without even bothering to mention any of the underlying science.

Paul moves on to mention in passing our favourite topic here at the Great White Con:

Now what about the idea that if we continue to warm you’re seeing all these consequence in terms of much more severe weather events, you’re seeing rising oceans, you’re seeing the melting of the polar ice caps. All of that sort of blends together into a kind of disastrous scenario. Are you saying that those are also just simply exaggerated?

Steve responds eagerly:

Yes they are! And let me give you some factoids.

Unsettlingly none of the factoids he gives us mention Arctic sea ice, a topic which Professor Koonin appears to be strangely ignorant of. Perhaps that’s because whichever way you try to slice and dice it that’s still the ultimately unavoidable giant canary in the climate coal mine?

[Edit – May 11th]

Needless to say Steve Koonin has also been interviewed by Tucker Carlson for Fox News. Needless to say the clip once again opens with a speech by that well known climate scientist, Joe Biden. Needless to say there is no mention of the giant canary in the Arctic coal mine once again. Tucker makes no reference to Greenland either, which does at least merit a mention in Steve’s book. Take a look:

Tucker opens his questioning with:

A hurricane will arise out of the Caribbean. We’ll have a heat wave. We’ll have a cold snap. All of them are attributed reflexively to climate change. How certain can we be that climate change causes those events?

Steve responds:

When you read the official reports from the UN and the US Government you find some surprises. For example, even though the globe has warmed by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century the incidence of heat waves across the 48 states is no greater than it was in 1900, and the highest temperatures haven’t gone up in 60 years.

We have been able to find no detectable influence on hurricanes from humans, and the models that we use to predict future climates have become more uncertain even as they’ve become more sophisticated. All of these things suggest that people who say that “we’ve broken the climate” and face certain doom unless we take drastic action are just misinformed about what the official reports actually say.

Despite the fact that Fox display some stock footage of sea ice during the interview, Tucker and Steve seem strangely unaware that those 48 states do not constitute the entire globe, or that there was a 2.7 degrees Celsius “heat wave” in the Arctic even as the interview was being conducted:

A little later in the interview Steve says:

We need to have an accurate portrayal of what we know and what we don’t know, and then we can have the debate about what to do about it, without using science as a weapon.

Sadly Steve seems strangely unaware that evidently you’re not going to get the accurate portrayal he recommends via Fox News!

[Edit – May 14th]

Steven Koonin has also been interviewed on CNBC’s Squawk Box, where Joe Kernen’s introduction gives you a strong flavour of what’s to come:

Corporations are spending billions to reduce their so called carbon footprint. President Biden’s infrastructure plan is loaded with subsidies for green industries. In fact if the new green deal ever was passed it wouldn’t be billions, it would be trillions.

Our next guest questions the conventional wisdom on climate science and it’s impact on business and the US economy. Steven Koonin served as the chief scientist in the Obama energy department, and is currently a professor at NYU and the author of “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters” :

Steve begins by assuring Joe’s audience that:

Everything I’ve written in this book comes almost directly from the official UN and US Government assessment reports, so this is not Steve talking really, but it is the consensus science.

For some strange reason Steve neglected to include the phrase “ignored and/or cherry picked” in front of “official UN and US Government assessment reports”. He then spouts his by now familiar schtick about “heatwaves in the US”, “hurricanes” and “global wildfires”. Joe then moves the conversation on to the economy:

Will there be an unnecessary negative effect on GDP, on corporations, if they pursue this when it’s not really necessary?

To which Dr. Koonin, as Joe calls him, responds:

I like to say you change the energy system by orthodonture rather than tooth extraction. And so if we do want to reduce carbon emissions we need to do it at a more thoughtful pace and in a more thoughtful way than is being proposed, and moreover we need to get the rest of the world to come along with us if it’s going to have any impact at all…

As [John] Kerry has said, unless the rest of the world comes along US efforts are futile.

So yet again no mention of the IPCC’s “consensus science” regarding Arctic sea ice or even the Greenland Ice Sheet. I cannot help but wonder where Steve’s talking head will appear next on United States’ viewers screens, but on past performance it seems unlikely that the cryosphere will merit a mention.

Watch this space!

9 thoughts on “Koonin’s Unsettled Science – The Movie(s)

  1. I’ve used NOAA’s WRIT service (described in a previous article) in an endeavour to illustrate Steve Koonin’s “global temperature went down between 1940 and 1970” talking point. Here is the result:

    together with the current “Keeling curve” of atmospheric CO₂ concentrations measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii:

    1. Hi Mack,

      It’s great to get some input from the southern hemisphere for a change!

      I wouldn’t argue with your proposition that “Koonin doesn’t know what he’s talking about”, but the conversation you linked to doesn’t specifically mention Prof. Koonin.

      Can you elaborate on how the views he expresses in the video above are “a load of bollocks”?

      1. The bollocks is the “climate change”, Jim. Prof Koonin is just included in the bollocks and therefore required no specific mention.

  2. Good luck with this particular conspiracy theorist, Jim!

    “Arguing with a conspiracy theorist is like throwing rocks at the moon.”

  3. I’ve added a Fox News interview with Steven Koonin above, but it seems some browsers don’t display it as well as Chrome does. Whilst we endeavour to sort out the technical intricacies, perhaps this version will work in all browsers under the sun?

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