Former Obama science advisor Steve Koonin casts doubt
This is part 2 about Steve Koonin’s book “Unsettled”, his views on climate science, and his concerns about the politicization of scientific documents, like the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.
Link to Part 1 - https://www.deidragarykenergyadvocate.com/post/are-fossil-fuels-causing-the-end-of-the-world-part-1
MODELS DRIVE THE NARRATIVE
Koonin boldly states that he disputes the findings of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, claiming that it’s subject to political influence which uses the document to persuade, rather than inform, which is what a scientific report should do.
Much of the proposed public policy and narrative is based on what the models project, even though they can’t tell us with certainty what is going to happen.
Part of the problem with models, Koonin says, is that the climate is too complex. The models have done a poor job of accurately predicting the future as too often past predications have been incorrect. Also, the models frequently don’t agree with each other about what will happen in the future.
Additionally, there’s too much sensitivity resulting in too much variance between the high and low scenarios within the models, and they do not explain why the change is happening, a significant limitation.
MEDIA, POLITICIANS, AND CLIMATE CHANGE DEVOTION
From his time working in government, Koonin realized that government pays scientists and academics through grants for their research; therefore, there’s a willingness to stretch the numbers if asked. That’s why it is important to include research and interpretations from scientists outside government.
Many times, media and politicians distort the climate change discussion by focusing on weather events; while it may be newsworthy, it is fallacious. Climate doesn’t make the news because it happens over decades and is not immediately noticeable or interesting.
He asserts that before a weather event can be deemed “the norm”, we need to see a trend since there’s natural variability; as a result, we need to see a trend over a decade or two to say that the extreme weather event is due to climate change. There’s also the added crux of having to prove that humans caused the trend.
I’ve noticed that too often articles and news stories on various topics are opinion or speculative, saying what could happen rather than reporting what did happen, sometimes creating unnecessary fear. After the prognostication is made, there’s seldom a follow-up story to tell us if the prediction was accurate.
As Koonin himself said, it’s time to ask why politicians and the media are not telling us all of it, and what else are they not telling us, and why?
I want to know why we can’t talk about different approaches to dealing with climate change-related impacts on humans and the planet. Why is there one narrative and perspective, and no others will be considered?
Over 100,000 copies of Koonin’s book are in circulation, yet legacy media organizations The Guardian and CNN have not commented on it even though they focus a lot of attention on the negative impacts of climate change. Why is that? What benefit do they get from ignoring Koonin’s contrarian explanations? Perhaps the screenshot below of the footer from a Guardian article published on September 30, 2021 offers a little insight?
TECHNOLOGY WILL SAVE US! RIGHT?
Koonin reminds of the US government’s regulations for ethanol use as a substitute for gasoline. They set expectations that have not been met; therefore, he urges caution and honesty about what technology can do.
Koonin told the Obama administration that it is very difficult to reduce emissions in the next 50 years to make a meaningful difference based on the data and facts. I think this statement is corroborated by the historical data on Canada’s own emissions, which have risen since 2015, when the Government of Canada began focusing extensively on emission reduction policies to the detriment of the oil and gas sector.
He offered up his thoughts on burgeoning technology Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage. While being supportive of the “capture” part of CCUS, he’s not a fan of the “utilization” component because he says we need to capture much more carbon than can be used. An additional concern he expressed is that energy is required to turn CO2 into fuel.
Whatever energy technology is used has to be reliable 99% of the time to maintain our modern economy and lifestyle. The energy sources able to achieve this are coal, oil, and natural gas (fossil fuels), which emit. If we want the source to be inexpensive and low emitting, we have wind and solar, but they have a reliability issue. If we want it to be reliable with low emissions, we have nuclear. However, if we want all three – reliable, inexpensive, low emissions – that energy source doesn’t exist.
When asked about the role of fossil fuels, Koonin spoke about energy systems. Transition is difficult because we need to be confident that the new energy system is reliable, and that comes through time. It’s expensive and very difficult to decarbonize quickly; therefore, we have to be realistic.
Some people are passionate about climate change, but they know little about energy systems, economics, and energy poverty. He asserts that there’s been a poor job of getting people to look at the problem as a whole, or even discussing the complexity.
While the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report builds on the “IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty,” Koonin is rightly concerned about getting reliable energy to the three billion people who currently do not have it. His view is that fossil fuels are the best way.
He repeatedly asks people who want to shut down all fossil fuel use: who is going to pay the developing world to not emit? He has yet to receive a response. This is a valid question to ask, and one that surely deserves some contemplation, if not a fulsome, detailed answer, particularly because those in the climate alarmist movement generally say they intend to eradicate poverty and, most recently, “environmental racism” with their climate actions and policies.
Koonin spoke in a calm, passive tone. He is clearly not a radical climate denying lunatic. As a result, I think he’s worthwhile listening to. He was recently interviewed on Alex Epstein’s podcast and you can listen to it here.
I’m pleased that more and more experts are speaking out to challenge the prevailing climate narratives. It’s necessary because when the experts lack credibility, we stop listening to them altogether, even when we should.