IT WAS my privilege to attend the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s 2021 Annual Lecture on Tuesday. It was delivered by Professor Steven E Koonin, scientist, former US policy adviser and author of the best-seller Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, published earlier this year and widely disparaged by the usual suspects.
No wonder, it must have rattled them rather badly.
For what this engaging New Yorker has done is express confidence in the original source data analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, accepting these as a reasonable scientific benchmark for climate change. Explaining this to his largely ‘sceptic’ audience at the start of his lecture raised an almost audible gasp. But before we had time to reach for our coats, he let us in on the secret. What alarmist media reports, climate activists and apocalyptic Prime Ministers believe to be based in ‘the science’ found in the IPCC reports is most often at some considerable distance from the base data and indeed analysis. Re-interpreted and selectively packaged by interested parties and agencies, it goes through a process of Chinese whispers, rendering it near unrecognisable, and is turned into media headlines for the benefit of the politicians and the public that everyone is scaring everyone else witless with.
Koonin has gone back to the reports to see what its bank of graphs and possible projections actually say. And it’s a lot less definite than Joe Public has been led to believe. Much boils down to which periods of time are selected to determine forward projections and the degree of confidence that can be attached to them. There are many specific examples in the lecture.
Unlike many of his panicking peers, Professor Koonin has full confidence in man’s ability to adapt to global temperature rises. He is a lot less sanguine about governments’ target-driven policy attempts to manage it. He also warns of the damage of what he calls misleading (I would call it ideological) science can do:
‘It usurps the right of the public to make fully informed decisions; it detracts from more urgent needs; it tarnishes science itself and depresses young people.’
At risk of a spoiler his conclusion is clear. It is that precipitous climate action is a far greater threat than ‘climate change’.
Koonin is an accomplished communicator. We need more like him. Sit back and enjoy him here: