Dr. Steven E. Koonin at NYPo, Obama administration scientist says climate ‘emergency’ is based on fallacy
Yes, it’s true that the globe is warming, and that humans are exerting a warming influence upon it. But beyond that — to paraphrase the classic movie “The Princess Bride” — “I do not think ‘The Science’ says what you think it says.”
For example, both research literature and government reports state clearly that heat waves in the US are now no more common than they were in 1900, and that the warmest temperatures in the US have not risen in the past fifty years. When I tell people this, most are incredulous. Some gasp. And some get downright hostile.
These are almost certainly not the only climate facts you haven’t heard. Here are three more that might surprise you, drawn from recent published research or assessments of climate science published by the US government and the UN:
Why haven’t you heard these facts before?
- Humans have had no detectable impact on hurricanes over the past century.
- Greenland’s ice sheet isn’t shrinking any more rapidly today than it was 80 years ago.
- The global area burned by wildfires has declined more than 25 percent since 2003 and 2020 was one of the lowest years on record.
Most of the disconnect comes from the long game of telephone that starts with the research literature and runs through the assessment reports to the summaries of the assessment reports and on to the media coverage. There are abundant opportunities to get things wrong — both accidentally and on purpose — as the information goes through filter after filter to be packaged for various audiences. The public gets their climate information almost exclusively from the media; very few people actually read the assessment summaries, let alone the reports and research papers themselves. That’s perfectly understandable — the data and analyses are nearly impenetrable for non-experts, and the writing is not exactly gripping. As a result, most people don’t get the whole story.
Policymakers, too, have to rely on information that’s been put through several different wringers by the time it gets to them. Because most government officials are not themselves scientists, it’s up to scientists to make sure that those who make key policy decisions get an accurate, complete and transparent picture of what’s known (and unknown) about the changing climate, one undistorted by “agenda” or “narrative.” Unfortunately, getting that story straight isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I should know. That used to be my job.
I’m a scientist — I work to understand the world through measurements and observations, and then to communicate clearly both the excitement and the implications of that understanding. Early in my career, I had great fun doing this for esoteric phenomena in the realm of atoms and nuclei using high-performance computer modeling (which is also an important tool for much of climate science). But beginning in 2004, I spent about a decade turning those same methods to the subject of climate and its implications for energy technologies. I did this first as chief scientist for the oil company BP, where I focused on advancing renewable energy, and then as undersecretary for science in the Obama administration’s Department of Energy, where I helped guide the government’s investments in energy technologies and climate science. I found great satisfaction in these roles, helping to define and catalyze actions that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the agreed-upon imperative that would “save the planet.”
But doubts began in late 2013 when I was asked by the American Physical Society to lead an update of its public statement on climate. As part of that effort, in January 2014 I convened a workshop with a specific objective: to “stress test” the state of climate science.
I came away from the APS workshop not only surprised, but shaken by the realization that climate science was far less mature than I had supposed. Here’s what I discovered:
Humans exert a growing, but physically small, warming influence on the climate. The results from many different climate models disagree with, or even contradict, each other and many kinds of observations. In short, the science is insufficient to make useful predictions about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what effect our actions will have on it.
In the seven years since that workshop, I watched with dismay as the public discussions of climate and energy became increasingly distant from the science. Phrases like “climate emergency,” “climate crisis” and “climate disaster” are now routinely bandied about to support sweeping policy proposals to “fight climate change” with government interventions and subsidies. Not surprisingly, the Biden administration has made climate and energy a major priority infused throughout the government, with the appointment of John Kerry as climate envoy and proposed spending of almost $2 trillion dollars to fight this “existential threat to humanity.”
And for an exhaustive fisking of the concept of 'Climate Emergency', there's no one better than Willis Eschenbach at WUWT, Where Is The “Climate Emergency”?
I listed some of the following in my previous post, and a commenter said they were important enough to deserve a post on their own … I agree.
Despite my asking over and over in a host of forums, to date nobody has been able to tell me just what this supposed “CLIMATE EMERGENCY!!” actually is and where I might find evidence that it exists. Here are some facts for the folks that think that the climate is a real danger to humanity.
Deaths from climate-related phenomena are at an all-time low. If you think deaths from climate-related catastrophes are an emergency, please point in the graph below to the start of the “emergency”. . . .
And on from there, making many points that I have made before. It's not about climate, it's about control, control over industry, and control over the behavior of people - you. They want a socialist economy, and climate is the excuse. Once they have the control they desire, they'll magically discover that climate is not important enough to thwart their goals. Look at Soviet Russia, Communist China, Cuba and Venezuela. None are noted for their climate holiness.