Let’s Work For Science With Integrity: Steve Koonin’s New Book “Unsettled”

Reposted from Forbes

Tilak Doshi Contributor

I analyze energy economics and related public policy issues.

It is not the global climate system that’s broken, it’s the alleged “climate consensus” that is. That in a nutshell is a central message of physicist Steve Koonin’s new book, “Unsettled: what climate science tells us, what it doesn’t, and why it matters”, available in bookstores and on Kindle on May 4th. The “climate consensus” alleges that:

Humans have broken the earth’s climate. Temperatures are rising, sea level is surging, ice is disappearing, and heat waves, storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires are an ever-worsening scourge on the world. Greenhouse gas emissions are causing all of this. And unless they’re eliminated promptly by radical changes to society and its energy systems, “The Science” says Earth is doomed.

Settled Science vs. Real Science

“Settled science”, an oxymoron, is anything but settled says the author. Holman Jenkins in his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal captures the author’s contribution to the climate change literature succinctly: “Mr. Koonin argues not against current climate science but that what the media and politicians and activists say about climate science has drifted so far out of touch with the actual science as to be absurdly, demonstrably false”.

Koonin points out scientific facts supported by hard data and the peer-reviewed literature that stand against the reigning climate change narrative: 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 eighty years ago; tornado frequency and severity are not trending up; the number and severity of droughts are not rising over time either; the extent of global fires has been trending significantly downward; the rate of sea-level rise has not accelerated; global crop yields are rising, not falling; the net economic impact of human-induced climate change will be minimal through at least the end of this century even if global average temperatures rise by 3C which is double the Paris Agreement goal.

To be sure, what Koonin points out as facts and convincing scientific interpretations have been covered by other equally qualified scientists such as William Happer (Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Princeton University), Richard Lindzen (atmospheric physicist, retired Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Roger Pielke Jr. (previously Director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado Boulder) and Judith Curry (American climatologist and former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology).MORE FOR YOUHow ‘Spot’ The Robot Dog Is Set To Patrol The World’s Dangerous Industrial SitesThe Dirty Secrets Of ‘Clean’ Electric VehiclesHow To Avoid Climate Disaster, The Bill Gates Way

Steve Koonin is more than eminently qualified in climate science. He has degrees from Caltech and MIT; he is an author of over 200 academic papers; he was previously provost at Caltech and chief scientist for BP. Koonin, in short, is a brilliant physicist who worked and interacted with his colleague at Caltech, Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century. But what sets Koonin apart from other prominent climate sceptics are not his impeccable credentials. Happer and Lindzen have equally impressive CVs. But Koonin will be harder to vilify and “cancel” as other sceptics have been (herehere, and here) because he was appointed as Senate-confirmed Under Secretary for Science under the Obama administration serving from May 19, 2009, to November 18, 2011. He served under a President who famously tweeted: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: Climate change is real, man-made and dangerous”. And this is precisely what Koonin’s book testifies against. It is quite wondrous how truth is told to power when one is released from the constraints of a government job.

The Height of Hubris

One of the key contributions of Koonin’s book is its detailed account of how the climate change message gets distorted as it goes through successive filters as the research literature gets converted to assessment reports and report summaries which are then subject to alarmist and apocalyptic media coverage and politicians’ soundbites. It is up to scientists to put forward facts without an agenda or a pre-existing narrative, but it is not easy. Koonin says, “I should know, that used to be my job”. He finds it the height of hubris when scientists believe that they should exaggerate or even lie for a higher cause and there could be no higher cause than “saving the planet”. For a scientist with integrity, there is no dilemma between being effective and being honest.

Why is the science so poorly communicated to the public and policy makers? For Koonin, it is clear that distorted science serves the interests of diverse players, ranging from environmental NGOs, media, politicians, scientists and scientific organizations. The ideological corruption of the hard sciences has been remarked upon by others but Koonin covers it with telling examples arising from his own experiences over the years. Climate science, he asserts, has been an effort “to persuade rather than inform”, leaving out what does not fit the overarching narrative. Contrary to popular belief, even the official assessment reports – such as those by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the US government’s National Climate Assessments — indicate that “significant human-induced climate change would have negligible net economic impact on either the world or the US economies by the end of this century”.

Who Broke The Science and Why

In examining “who broke the science and why”, Koonin argues that misinformation in the service of persuasion is not at the behest of “some secret cabal but rather a self-reinforcing alignment of perspectives and interests”. Turning to politicians who come out with simple messages such as “eliminate the use of fossil fuel to save the planet”, Koonin cites the great American essayist H. L. Mencken who wrote that “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary”. Of the media, Koonin observes that if reporters don’t have a narrative of gloom, they won’t have a story that makes it into the papers since “if it bleeds, it leads”. Scientific institutions seem “overwilling to persuade rather than inform”, and the entire raison d’etre of environmental NGOs is to keep alive the “climate crisis”.

The public faces on a daily basis mounting hysteria and calls for drastic policies adversely affecting the livelihoods of ordinary people and trillions of dollars to “fight climate change”. The “climate emergency” is now pronounced as fact by US President Joe Biden, UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson who plays host to this year’s UN climate conference in Glasgow, and the EU leadership which plans to impose a carbon border adjustment tax on developing countries that refuse to impose draconian climate regulations on their own much poorer citizens. It would be too much to hope that Steve Koonin’s book can do much to fight the global climate change juggernaut that has gained momentum over the past three decades. Nevertheless, he has written a brave and convincing book on the weak case of an impending human-induced climate apocalypse. It would be a sorry indicator of our times if he were subject to the obscene charge of “climate denier”, as many of his sceptical colleagues have been.

Tilak Doshi

I have worked in the oil and gas sector as an economist in both private industry and in think tanks, in Asia, the Middle East and the US over the past 25 years. I focus on global energy developments from the perspective of Asian countries that remain large markets for oil, gas and coal. I have written extensively on the areas of economic development, environment and energy economics. My publications include “Singapore in a Post-Kyoto World: Energy, Environment and the Economy” published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (2015). I won the 1984 Robert S. McNamara Research Fellow award of the World Bank and received my Ph.D. in Economics in 1992

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May 2, 2021 2:17 am

One can only hope that at some point the media finds it more effective for sales to challenge the established viewpoint.

Larry in Texas
Reply to  Stephen Wilde
May 2, 2021 10:26 am

I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen. Lol.

Steve Case
May 2, 2021 2:37 am

The Climate Crusaders will yawn and say, “We’ve seen all these denier talking points before, what’s for lunch?”

Reply to  Steve Case
May 2, 2021 7:21 am

what’s more they have stopped even looking…

climate science and renewables are now mainstream

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2021 11:27 am

So are sexually transmitted diseases.

Last edited 1 year ago by Scissor
Steve Case
Reply to  Scissor
May 2, 2021 12:12 pm

A little late for my first chuckle of the day, but that was a good one.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2021 12:35 pm

Sorry Griff, wrong again, this book is a best seller meaning people aren’t buying the BS
Turning this massive machine takes time but it will turn.
Eventually Tommy Wils will proven right.

Better have your story straight

Reply to  griff
May 3, 2021 5:11 am

“renewables are now mainstream”


So long as there is PLENTY of GAS to cover for them, hey girff-twerp.

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And even in Germany, the only so-called “renewable” that has anything but a tiny impact, is biomass.

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Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
May 2, 2021 2:52 am

‘Integrity’, in climate science séance !!!

Are you having a laugh ?
Not seen much of that in the last 30yrs.

Last edited 1 year ago by 1saveenergy
Reply to  saveenergy
May 2, 2021 6:06 am

Climate “séance,” aka “models.”

Reply to  Scissor
May 2, 2021 4:18 pm

Just like séances, climate models that have a successful prediction rate of 0.0%. Total failure regarding climate, dangerous weather, city drowning sea level rise and various other ignorant doom predictions.

Joseph Zorzin
May 2, 2021 3:33 am

watch Alex Epstein’s interview of Koonin- it’s about an hour long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f15DWccid4I

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
May 2, 2021 6:55 am

Many thanks.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
May 2, 2021 10:33 am

It’s a great interview, I see many attacks against Koonin, by people who are less than nothing.
The important point he makes many times is how all he is doing is pointing out what is in the actual science.

And there is no emergency

Geoff Sherrington
May 2, 2021 3:53 am

Dr Koonin’s seminar with 6 top climate people in January 2014 has transcript I saved here. It is 573 pages of open format typing and an isiders’ view of the state of knowledge up to 2014.
I have read it start to finish about 3 times now, so you all can too.
Author Tilak Doshi & Charles the Moderator, I hope this is OK with you to add to this post.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
May 2, 2021 4:21 am


Koonin chairing that APS seminar is the key starting point on his journey, I think.

Everyone with an interest in climate science should read the APS Seminar transcript.

3 warmists and 3 sceptics, chaired by neutral physicist Koonin and all ON THE RECORD AND TRANSCRIBED so no chance to slant things in subsequent public comments. Its a very important document.

Last edited 1 year ago by ThinkingScientist
Pat Frank
Reply to  ThinkingScientist
May 2, 2021 7:41 am

And in it, Koonin himself says that the uncertainties have never been propagated through a projection.

Then the conversations shifts on to other things, and the point is lost.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
May 2, 2021 6:13 am

Very nice. Thank you.

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
May 2, 2021 7:21 am

Absolutely right to include this critical source — but the space constraints of an op-ed meant that I had to leave out a lot that was also important. For example the “tuned” climate models which essentially meant “cooking the books” (in Koonin’s words), the use of RCP8.5 as business as usual scenario, etc.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Tilak K Doshi
May 2, 2021 7:42 am
Larry in Texas
Reply to  Tilak K Doshi
May 2, 2021 10:31 am

Thanks for your comments on this book of Steven Koonin. I have the book, just haven’t had time to read it yet. It has been automatically bumped by me up to number 2 on my must-read list.

John Garrett
May 2, 2021 4:03 am

I am pissed off by the usurpation of “science” by people with a political agenda.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Garrett
Reply to  John Garrett
May 2, 2021 7:22 am

Yes, the constant assertions climate science is marxism/communism/a left wing plot are rather tiresome.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2021 12:29 pm

It’s advocacy Griff, with a false premise

There is no emergency
So why do we see so much BS?

Reply to  griff
May 2, 2021 2:10 pm

Then you should get your AGW leaders to stop making statements to that affect, , girff-twerp !

DENIAL that you are a leftist denier of reality, won’t help your cause.

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Reply to  griff
May 2, 2021 6:04 pm

More lies from giffiepoo.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s former chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, who revealed that the Green New Deal is not about “saving the planet:”

“interview with Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Edenhofer, co-chair of the U.N. IPCC’s Working Group III, made this shocking admission:

One must free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.  [What we’re doing] has almost nothing to do with the climate.  We must state clearly that we use climate policy to redistribute de facto the world’s wealth.

On the same date, Edenhofer added this:

Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with protecting the environment.  The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which [re]distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.

Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer, one of the U.N.’s top climate officials, effectively admitted that the organization’s public position on climate change is a hoax.”

“Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted during a February 2015 press conference in Brussels that the U.N.’s real purpose in promoting climate fear is to kill off capitalism:

This is the first time in human history that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally changing [getting rid of] the economic development model that has reigned since the Industrial Revolution.

The economic model she referred to is free-market capitalism.  A year earlier, Figueres revealed what U.S. capitalism must be replaced with when she complained that America’s two-party constitutional democracy is hampering the U.N.’s climate objectives.  She went on to cite China’s communist system as the kind of government America must have if the U.N. is to do as it pleases.  In other words, for the U.N. to have its way, America must become a single-party communist society.”

The stunning pronouncements by Figueres and Edenhofer are all the evidence a rational mind needs to conclude that climate alarmism is being used as a Trojan horse to justify the stratospheric new carbon taxes clamored for by progressive elites like Al Gore, Barack Obama, and John Kerry, none of whom has denounced the profoundly anti-American sentiments of two of the U.N.’s top climate officials.”

UN’s Secretary General António Guterres has repeatedly stated that Western nations must submit to wealth redistribution and spread the wealth to other countries.

“We need all countries to step up next year.

Third, we need to make national commitments more ambitious in sectors that were not fully part of the picture in 2015, such as nature-based solutions.

Fourth, we must address the social dimension of climate change by ensuring that national commitments include a just transition for people whose jobs and livelihoods are affected as we move from the grey to the green economy.

As we adjust, we must also consider the gender component of climate change and remove the barriers that limit the ability of women, particularly poor women, to thrive in a green economy and to adapt to climate impacts.

Fifth, we must cut current coal capacity and ensure no more new coal power plants are built after 2020.

Coal is the single largest barrier to a 1.5-degree future. 

It is key to decarbonizing economies and improving peoples’ health.

Sixth, we must speed up the transition to 100 per cent renewable energy, increase energy efficiency, end subsidies for fossil fuels and decarbonize key sectors such as transport.  

Seventh, we must shift financial flows faster, make sustainable finance more readily available, including through the Green Climate Fund, and move on carbon pricing making also adaptation as a central concern.

If we switch taxation from incomes to carbon, we will tax pollution not people.

Eighth, is stepping-up support for people affected by climate change and building a more resilient future.

We must put adaptation and resilience at the centre of decision-making and at the financial resource allocation.

The Summit delivered initiatives that will make billions of people safer.

But there is still a very long way to go.

Ninth, we must deliver on commitments made at the Summit to Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries.

They are the first to suffer from climate disruption yet they have done least to contribute.

And finally, we should implement the Summit’s initiatives of effective roadmaps to decarbonize key sectors, such as shipping; housing and transportation; and the steel and cement industries.”

Besides Ocasio’s, Tlaib’s, Bloomberg’s, Steyer’s, Ford Founation, Rockefeller Foundation, WWF, Sierra Club, Club of Rome and many other leftist leaders and organizations.

Leftist religious climate advocates that depend upon ‘Alinsky’s rules for Radicals’ and philosophy by Maurice Strong pursue socialism and marxist governments themselves.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  ATheoK
May 2, 2021 6:58 pm

G’Day ATheoK

“Leftist religious climate advocates…”

“It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.”

― Robert A. Heinlein, “Time Enough for Love”

Bruce Cobb
May 2, 2021 4:19 am

I’m curious as to what Mr. Koonin thinks the “actual science” about climate is. Chances are, it is wrong. Does he even consider the idea that cooling is a possibility in the coming decades, and that indeed, cooling may have already started, for example? Lukewarmists always love to give CO2 way more power than the evidence shows it to have, which is also part of the “consensus” fallacy.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
May 2, 2021 4:31 am

Lukewarmists give warmists the credibility they don’t deserve.

May 2, 2021 5:24 am

We need to stop using “science” and start using “pop science” as in “The pop science is settled.” This applies to climate, the pandemic and just about everything else the MSM is trying to perpetrate on the general population.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  rbabcock
May 2, 2021 5:35 am

Perhaps more “educated” people should read how the brilliant Socrates challenged authority- though it resulted in his death. He got famous for it. Who ever got famous for not challenging authority?

Pat Frank
Reply to  rbabcock
May 2, 2021 7:49 am

Pseudo-science is the more accurate term for it.

And it’s not just climate models. It’s the air temperature record with its ubiquitous reliance on false precision, It’s the proxy paleo-temperature reconstructions that fake physical meaning.

The whole field is a descent into scientific insanity, and the official scientific societies stand by in silence. The deeper crime is their collusion.

May 2, 2021 6:03 am

This was a good post. I would like to point out that an omission related to Roger Pielke’s title as stated above will open up a line of attack against the Forbes piece.

Dr. Pielke’s title is missing “CIRES,” which stands for Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. This institute is located at the University of Colorado, Boulder. It is affiliated with the university but is a separate entity. Omitting “CIRES” gives the appearance that Dr. Pielke held a position of much higher stature than he actually did.

“Director” within CIRES involves administration over a small area of scientific expertise or over a functional area within CIRES. There are several people within CIRES that have “Director” in their job titles. Directors within CIRES are levels below vice Chancellor in the university’s hierarchy, as the chief administrator of CIRES (the Director to which Pielke reported) reports to the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Scissor
May 2, 2021 7:26 am

Thank you for pointing this out. I will look further into Roger Pielke’s bio but whatever the case is, his work on extreme weather trends stands as serious academic work and ad hominem attacks don’t deserve a response.

Reply to  Tilak K Doshi
May 2, 2021 9:48 am

Here’s his CV. Look under past positions, 2013-2016.


Reply to  Tilak K Doshi
May 2, 2021 12:24 pm

As a result of the negative votes my comment received, I wish add that I meant no disrespect toward Dr. Pielke. He’s done a lot of good work, some of which has caused him to receive undo derision by climate alarmists.

I simply meant to point out an omission in his title given in this piece, and that omission is likely an inadvertent error.

Tom Abbott
May 2, 2021 7:33 am

From the article: “Mr. Koonin argues not against current climate science but that what the media and politicians and activists say about climate science has drifted so far out of touch with the actual science as to be absurdly, demonstrably false”

I think that describes the situation perfectly.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
May 2, 2021 9:11 am

A great example is the Obama 97% quote. All the Doran Zimmerman study established (with questionable procedures) was that 97% of the reduced sample of under 100 scientists agreed that it was now warmer than prior to 1850, and that humans contributed to that rise. No question polled whether the warming was dangerous.

May 2, 2021 7:36 am

In our Western world, governed by the ‘Globalist Elites’ everything means the opposite of what it purports to mean:

  • ‘Settled Science’ means ‘stop asking questions’. But asking questions is the basis of science. Therefore ‘Settled Science’ actually means Stop Science.
  • ‘Sustainable Development’ actually means slow down development so that nothing changes.
  • ‘Data Adjustment’ actually means ‘Data Corruption’ in order to stymie real science.

Just like ‘Antifa’ actually refers to the most fascist of political movements.

The ‘Powers that Be’ who say ‘Follow the Science’ have the same relationship to science as did the Spanish Inquisition.

Tim Spence
May 2, 2021 9:02 am

His previous employment will see him labelled as ‘with links to fossil fuels producer B.P.’

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Tim Spence
May 2, 2021 9:34 am

Experience on all sides.

We used to look for people with a breadth of experience to give opinions.
In Canada, we elect the poster child for white privilege. A term I hate but if it exists at all Trudeau is basically a caricature of it, a person no one would ever have heard of except for his last name.

Doug S
May 2, 2021 9:29 am

​What a breath of fresh air! ​One of the biggest take-aways I got from my Physics degree is that mankind has a habit of getting the wrong ​scientific ​answers m​a​​ny, many times​. The ​science ​history is available for anyone to learn from but the general public does not have the benefit of a good science education​ and as a consequence, ​is never exposed to the history.

I really like the way Dr. Koonin approaches climate science when he says it’s a extremely complicated problem and we really don’t have the underlying data to make precise predictions. Anytime you hear an “expert” say “the science is settled”, you can be sure that he/she is adding to the long history of prediction failures.

May 2, 2021 11:46 am

“Koonin points out scientific facts supported by hard data and the peer-reviewed literature that stand against the reigning climate change narrative.”

I’ve been doing this for over 20 years in comment sections of sensationalist media articles. Not once have alarmist posters accepted peer reviewed science or empirical evidence. The brainwashing has been very effective.

Hopefully curious bystanders reading comment sections are being influenced by the exchanges. Straw man deflections and name calling are all they have in response to factual science.

Joseph Zorzin
May 2, 2021 12:38 pm

Meanwhile, “Climate action supporters: The fossil fuel industry is not your friend”

“Fortunately, we do have true heroes who should be at the head of the climate policymaking table: those who have been at the frontlines of the climate crisis. At the international level, they are developing countries, and particularly low-lying island states. At the national level, they are communities targeted for oil and gas infrastructure siting, which are mostly Black, Brown and indigenous communities. In sharp contrast to the fossil fuel industry’s interests in its survival, their interests in survival align with the Paris goals, and thus with those of this planet and all people who inhabit it.”


Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
May 3, 2021 10:33 am

Some choice quotes from the article.- “dangerous climate disruption”, “accelerating a climate apocalypse,” ” planetary suicide.”

Psychotic delusion is being presented as unquestionable fact.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Gyan1
May 3, 2021 12:30 pm

This new religion gets crazier every day.

May 2, 2021 1:47 pm

Asking IPCC, NASA, NOAA and GISS to stop needlessly altering surface temperature data would be a start.

Until their disinformation ends, there will not be integrity.

Geoff Sherrington
May 2, 2021 4:49 pm

Earlier, I gave this link to the 2014 AGU seminar moderated by Dr Koonin and noted its 573 pages.

Readers wanting a taste before the meal might like to start about page 495, near the end of the discussions. If you are like me, you might find it so readable that you will then go to the start for the full meal. Geoff S

Vincent Causey
May 2, 2021 11:58 pm

We’ve gone way past the point of no return. Even if a few trusted climate scientists had a twinge of conscience and spoke out against the hysteria taking hold, they would be denounced as deniers or as having lost their minds. No politician can dare stand up to it or they would be swept away in a deluge of media outrage and targeted and well organised protests. All they can do in fact, is try to profit from it, because, if its got to happen, then why not, they will reason. The economic damage will start to become apparent, and then the suffering. But they will forge ahead regardless, because, well, this sort of suicidal madness didn’t stop World War 1, did it?

May 6, 2021 12:17 pm

Thought it worth mentioning here that after I posted this article to Facebook, they flagged it as containing “partially false content”. Not terribly surprising but when I looked at the ‘fact check’ it was comprised of all warmunist scientists with far less credentials than Koonin. All the usual tricks in play, ignoring tide gauges and using only satellites for their sea level data, same with the Greenland ice sheet. I had to chuckle when one of the explanations cited ‘cherry picking’…exactly what the fact checkers themselves, were doing.

Tilak K Doshi
Reply to  Scott
May 7, 2021 8:42 pm

Scott — FB did that also to the WSJ’s review of Koonin’s book:


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