The Obama Administration Official Who Would Have Led the Red Team/Blue Team EPA Debates…

Featured image from Retro Thing

Guest commentary by David Middleton

From the American Association for the Advancement of Science of America

Obama official would have led EPA’s climate science debate—if all agencies took part

By Robin Bravender, E&E NewsJun. 13, 2018 , 4:05 PM

Originally published by E&E News

Scott Pruitt’s top aide wanted to use special authority to hire a former Obama administration official to scrutinize climate science.

The EPA administrator’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, suggested last year that Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist and an Obama Energy Department appointee, could quickly get on EPA’s payroll. Pruitt and his staff have drawn criticism for using special authority to expedite the hires of political appointees, and EPA’s internal watchdog has launched a probe into the matter.

Pruitt’s team was planning to hire Koonin to convene a military-style “red-team” climate exercise aimed at questioning prevailing climate science.


Koonin never took the job, he told E&E News yesterday in an interview, and he doesn’t expect the Trump team to launch a red team.


But Koonin said yesterday that he only wanted to sign on to such an initiative if it were a governmentwide effort. “If one is going to do a good red-team exercise, it needs to involve those agencies that have strong equities in climate science, and EPA is not that,” he said.


“Instead of taking briefings from and respecting the knowledge of EPA scientists or NASA’s and NOAA’s scientists who are among the world’s experts on climate change, Pruitt wants to bring in a bunch of right-wing nuts to run an alternate facts process,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean energy program.

Koonin said, “I don’t think I’m being crazy.” He added, “Why wouldn’t you want to make sure that the government is properly representing the science?”

And although he said he’s not concentrating his energy on the executive branch or the government at this point, he’s still pursuing the red-team idea.

“It’s something I’m thinking about a lot. Stay tuned.”

Science… As in She Blinded Me With…

Warmunist: “Instead of taking briefings from and respecting the knowledge of EPA scientists or NASA’s and NOAA’s scientists who are among the world’s experts on climate change, Pruitt wants to bring in a bunch of right-wing nuts to run an alternate facts process.” — Don’t question the informed wisdom (AKA the Warmunist agenda) of government climate explainers.

Scientist: “I don’t think I’m being crazy.  Why wouldn’t you want to make sure that the government is properly representing the science?” — Don’t blindly accept the Warmunist agenda.

(If anyone wishes to take issue with my use of the word “Warmunist,” save yourself some time by Googling “hyperbole.“)

Steve Koonin deserves a great deal of credit for perseverance.   Four years ago, he attempted something similar with the American Physical Association…

APS reviews its Climate Change Statement

Posted on February 19, 2014 by curryja
by Judith Curry

The American Physical Society (APS) is in the process of reviewing its 2007 Climate Change Statement. The process itself is remarkable, and I’ve been privileged to participate in the process.



The text of the 2007 APS Climate Change statement is found [here].

This statement resulted in the public resignations from the APS of several high profile physicists (this was followed closely at WUWT).  These resignations prompted additional commentary to be appended to the statement, with some clarifications and mentions of uncertainty.

The charge to the POPA Subcommittee considering the statement can be found [here].


I was one of the experts invited to attend the January 8 Workshop.  The other invitees were  Bill Collins, Ben Santer, Isaac Held, Richard Lindzen, and John Christy.  [link] for biosketches.

Several weeks before the Workshop, we received a framing document that posed a series of questions that had arisen from their reading of the IPCC AR5 WG1 Report.  Not only did they carefully read the AR5 Report (they picked up some things that I hadn’t spotted), but their analysis and questions reflected a good skeptical perspective.  None of the Subcommittee Members have any apparent expertise in climate science; rather they viewed the AR5 report through the eyes of physicists.

Each Workshop participant was invited to select questions to respond to in a 30 minute presentation.  The Workshop format allowed for extensive questioning and discussion.   My presentation can be found here [JC APS].

The APS produced a complete transcript of the workshop [link], with ppt slides embedded within.  This is a remarkable document — more than anything else that I’ve seen, it provides in my opinion what is the most accurate portrayal of  the scientific debates surrounding climate change.  There was some fascinating (and new to me) science that was presented. In a future post i will discuss the scientific presentations. But one general reaction is that while the 6 of us agreed on the primary scientific evidence (apart from some tiffs between Santer and Christy on the satellite-derived tropospheric temperature trends), we each had a unique perspective on how to reason about the evidence.


Climate Etc.

Steve Koonin was the chair of the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) subcommittee.  After the very productive workshop, there was a great deal of hope that the APS would heed at least some of the recommendations and revise the APS’ position statement on climate change.

Instead Steve Koonin and Robert Rosner were booted off the committee and the workshop’s results were not only ignored, they were bastardized…

JC reflections

Well, their paragraph on Climate Science is a rather astonishing take on the APS Workshop.  Their paragraph on Climate Change seems to come from the Guardian.  Their statement on Climate Action reiterates their rather crazy statement in 2007

Apart from the issue that no one on the POPA seems to understand any of these issues beyond a superficial level (after Koonin and Rosner departed from the POPA), and that their statements are naive and unprofessional, here is my real problem with this.  This is an egregious misuse of the expertise of the APS.  Their alleged understanding of issues like spectroscopy and fluid dynamics are not of any direct relevance to the issues they write about in this statement.  The statement is an embarrassment to the APS.

Note: Steve Koonin was the Chair of the Subcommittee and organized the Workshop.  Steve is quite knowledgeable about climate physics and the debate about climate change, as evidenced by his WSJ editorial Climate Science is Not Settled.

Some additional minor insights on the process.  The APS has a Topical Group on the Physics of Climate, of which I am a Member and have been elected to the Executive Committee.  The Topical Group was not invited to participate in this in any way, other than to suggest individuals to participate in the Workshop.  So the population of APS physicists who actually know something about the physics of climate were not invited to participate in this process (other than myself and maybe one or two other Workshop participants who were actually APS members).  Another note: of the 6 experts invited to the APS Workshop, I think only 2 of us are APS members; i.e. apparently there is not sufficient expertise within the APS to summon 6 APS member experts.

Well, it will be interesting to see how the APS membership responds.  Lets see how this plays out, I will decide whether I renew my APS membership.  The Topical Group on the Physics of Climate is developing into something worthwhile, but the POPA obviously doesn’t want any ‘interference’ with its policy agenda.

JC message to APS POPA:  no one cares about your political preferences in the climate change debate.  You have demonstrated that you bring nothing intellectually to the table (once Koonin and Rosner left).   You simply have no business issuing a policy statement on climate change. You have embarrassed the APS membership.

Climate Etc.

The fact that Steve Koonin is still willing to try is worthy of a great deal of respect.



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Richard Wakefield

Is this debate going to happen?

steven mosher

pruitt is scared


OR .. no-one cares the world has moved on.

Roger Knights

The last I heard, Pruitt was warned off pursuing his debate idea by Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff.


He should be. Climate fanatics are ruthless and irrational.


What about the convicted felon, John C. Beale. He did important work for Obama.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar


Joe Crawford

You have demonstrated that you bring nothing intellectually to the table (once Koonin and Rosner left). You simply have no business issuing a policy statement on climate change.

I sure have to agree with Dr. Curry on that.

K. Kilty

Trial attorneys never ask a question they don’t already know the answer to. In other words don’t risk something unexpected upsetting the case you’re trying to make. The agencies involved in a red-team/blue team exercise will heed that dictum. They will not get involved until they know what will be asked and that they get to provide the answers they’ve prepared, and get the result they need.

steven mosher

science doesnt happen on stage.
it doesnt happen in a courtroom.
you make a case in journals.

that is what this empiricist observes.

and there is no equal time. sorry.

Bruce Cobb

CAGW “science” was never about actual science. It ran roughshod over all scientific principles, all the while pretending to be science. But you knew that.

LOL@Klimate Katastrophe Kooks

I like to use the following:
“CAGW stalked, killed and cannibalized actual science. It wore the skin of actual science and walked amongst us, pretending to be actual science. It is not.”

John Harmsworth

Equal weight? There isn’t even equal opportunity! Yet Michael Mann gets published. You make me laugh. Steven.

Roger Knights

Then science isn’t happening, because the journals aren’t providing forums for debate.

As I’ve said in more than one response to you, journals are set up to provide “findings” (and thus rarely negative results) and review articles. Debates are rare. And they aren’t suitable today for a climate change debate, because so many color slides would be needed, and such lengthy points and counterpoints, plus follow-ups, taking up most of several issues. The place, or one place, for debates is the Internet, on such sites as the Dutch government’s Climate Dialogue site.

Gary Pearse

Political backrooms or I guess its been front rooms for years, is okay though for prividing guidelines for science outcomes. Hey, you should get what you pay for, right. Empiricist indeed! The Empire is the umpire.


Science doesn’t debate.
You minions are supposed to wait for us, the masters of science, to tell you what the answer is, then you accept it.
If you don’t, you are denying science and will be punished.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar



Yeah right Steve.
The climate creeps, as you documented, ran off editors they did not approve.
The climate creeps dominate every public oriented media show.
The climate creeps gave scary fabricated testimony to Congress and ever other government body with no chance for balance or review.


David, the description “warmunists” is treating them with kid gloves. I could suggest more accurate descriptions, but this is a family website.



You guys are funny. Scientists are warmunists to you, and science deniers are scientists. Reminds me of the recent history of “science” from Heartland muddying the waters:

Smoking is good for you. (decades later) OK, it’s not, but second-hand smoke is fine. –Heartland


Alley, a bit of advice for you — a mind is a terrible thing to waste…..

D. J. Hawkins

Well, he/she/it is safe then.


Perhaps he keeps it in Al Gore’s lock box?


What science has been denied ?? You Liberals really seem to hate reality !! IMHO…

While burning fossil fuels is superficially like smoking, this analogy is overdrawn as modern life is entirely dependent on fossil fuels. Not so cigarettes. Electric cars just burn fossil fuels somewhere else with steep conversion and line losses.


There is no evidence that second hand smoke is harmful.

Regardless, why not attack the evidence presented, instead of a group that wasn’t even involved in this?


Hi Griff! Another new email

Gary Pearse

They cling to the tobacco debacle for dear life. Since losing every debate years ago, a directive has gone out not to debate, but rather to use Alinsky’s Rules and never admit error.

paul courtney

As previously established, Alley is the bottom shelf. This one looks mailed in. Alley, please give ’em their $4 worth.

Roy Spencer

I think those are the strongest words I’ve seen from Judy. She is obviously pissed.


Mann’s ability to really tick people off, is one of strongest assets.

D. J. Hawkins

Until identified by others, I was scratching my head as to who “JC” was. Now I just want to keep my head below the parapet!


“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist …”

Civil War general John Sedgewick

Gary Pearse

These exercises at least label those who are purely political on the science (those who keep changing the goal posts to handle unsupportive evidence – Santer comes to mind). I would like to see a rigorous presentation on the evidence without harkening back to 100yr old radiative physics of CO2 and handwaving the rest. Let’s start by simply accepting radiative behavior of atmospheric molecules and see what else they’ve got.

Lab radiative stuff is like knowing that on a level smooth track a Maserati will go zero to 60 in under 5 seconds, but put it on a sandy beach or in a foot of water or against a headwind of 50mph or in a rainstorm, i.e. out of the lab and into the elements – the “climate” so to speak.

Physicists of an earlier generation (like the distinguished former APS members who quit the association in disgust and embarrassment) would understand this without a moment’s thought. I’m sure some of the dissenters who left positionthe org are Democrats, too, who never considered their political leanings to have a bearing on the question.

Hal Lewis, one of the distinguished dissenters, was not a climate scientist. His issue was the violations of the scientific method committed by climate scientists, the unscientific weight of the consensus, the pronouncement that the science is setted and beyond debate, the gatekeeping and the research cash doled out to government to support a preordained outcome.

I would like to see the supporters of the consensus asked to give a thorough critique of their position. To tell us what they view as requiring more data to reduce uncertainty, to list what might be confounding evidence that gives them pause. Scientific sceptics have been left to do this important scientific duty.

I have a lot of respect for people like Koonin and Curry who insistently follow the evidence wherever it leads, despite intense pressure to do otherwise. That’s scientific integrity. It doesn’t mean they’re never mistaken, but it certainly makes them worth listening to — unlike an awful lot of other people in the field.

Dave B wrote:
“It doesn’t mean they’re never mistaken, but it certainly makes them worth listening to — unlike an awful lot of other people in the field.”

Agreed Dave – certain so-called “climate scientists” have so completely disgraced themselves with their decades of falsehoods that all I have to see is their name on the paper, and I can move on.

These global warming alarmists have a perfectly negative predictive track record – every one of their very-scary global warming and wilder weather predictions has FAILED to materialize. If you could bet against these scam artists, you could make a fortune.

Unfortunately our idiot politicians have bet WITH the warmist fraudsters, and COST society a fortune, now tens of trillions of dollars and counting… the greatest fraud, in dollar terms, in the history of humanity.

I have a quibble. Don’t “google” the word hyperbole. Instead, hit the Oxford English Dictionary and/or Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. “Don’t support Evil”, heh. 😉

J Mac

God bless the climate realists like Koonin, Christy, Lindzen, Spencer, and Curry, who labor continuously for honesty and pragmatic perspective in science!

Gunga Din

And it looks like one of the old sets which had wooden pieces instead of plastic.
I had one of those when I was a kid.
Hmmm… a wooden piece. An Obama administration official….
Did Al Gore ever work for Obama?


Once the new religion gains levels of power and influence, those who decline to stay in the mainstream are dispensible.


This sounds like an individual who is concerned with pursuing facts at the cost of agendas. Get him a desk and GS 15 rating, stat!

Johann Wundersamer

“Instead of taking briefings from and respecting the knowledge of EPA scientists or NASA’s and NOAA’s scientists who are among the world’s experts on climate change, Pruitt wants to bring in a bunch of right-wing nuts to run an alternate facts process,” said David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean energy program.

Yes, David Doniger –

telling “there is no hail storms and there have never been such things as hail storms so I’m not going out into the hail storms they’re frightening. And who is Pruitt.”

Well done, David; Doni. ger.

Johann Wundersamer

Prey: tell Pruitt there’s no way talking to ants.

red teams / blue teams – hah!

Respect the ants and leave them their ways.

Johann Wundersamer

answering climate terrorists is flocking undead horse.

Do not give them first aid mouth to mouth.