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