Douglas Andrews / May 10, 2021

A Sensible Scientist Unsettles the Left

A new book by a former Obama official dumps plenty of cold water on the “settled science” of climate change.

In a 2005 lecture he gave at Caltech, the late Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and holder of a medical degree from Harvard, had this to say about the impact of science: “Rather than serving as a cleansing force, science has in some instances been seduced by the more ancient lures of politics and publicity. Some of the demons that haunt our world in recent years are invented by scientists. The world has not benefitted from permitting these demons to escape free.”

Crichton was certainly prophetic about the politicization of science, but one wonders what he’d make of the scientific community’s more recent lurch leftward, its weirdly anti-scientific approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially its theocratic approach to “climate change,” whose science, the Left insists, was long ago settled.

Settled? Not so, says physicist Steven Koonin, the former undersecretary of science during the Obama administration. Koonin is also the author of the new book Unsettled, in which he writes, “The science is insufficient to make useful projections about how the climate will change over the coming decades, much less what effect our actions will have on it.”

That statement alone should be comforting to global warming skeptics, who have, so far, through sheer force of will, staved off Al Gore’s 15-year-old warnings of impending underwater doom to such cities as Amsterdam, Beijing, Shanghai, Calcutta, Manhattan, and San Francisco.

“Koonin kicks the hornet’s nest right out of the gate in ‘Unsettled,’” writes Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “In the book’s first sentences he asserts that ‘the Science’ about our planet’s climate is anything but ‘settled.’ Mr. Koonin knows well that it is nonetheless a settled subject in the minds of most pundits and politicians and most of the population.”

Koonin, though, as Mills notes, is no “climate denier.” He believes that the globe is warming and that humans have a hand in it. How big is this hand? How great are its effects? How urgently should governments respond to it? Those questions are among the unanswerables.

As for the word “denier” and its use by the Left to equate global warming skeptics with Holocaust deniers, Koonin finds it rather repugnant since, as he writes, “the Nazis killed more than two hundred of my relatives in Eastern Europe.”

“Mr. Koonin’s science credentials are impeccable,” writes Mills, “unlike, say, those of one well-known Swedish teenager to whom the media affords great attention on climate matters. He has been a professor of physics at Caltech and served as the top scientist in Barack Obama’s Energy Department.”

Here we’d offer a word of caution. While not just any schlub rates a Caltech professorship, we’d remind Mills that Obama’s “science czar,” John Holdren, once floated ideas such as forced abortions, “compulsory sterilization,” and a “Planetary Regime” to oversee population levels and protect the earth from us humans by controlling all of its natural resources.

Still, as Mills writes, Unsettled packs a wallop. “As Mr. Koonin illustrates, tornado frequency and severity are also not trending up; nor are the number and severity of droughts. 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. And while global atmospheric CO2 levels are obviously higher now than two centuries ago, they’re not at any record planetary high — they’re at a low that has only been seen once before in the past 500 million years.”

By debunking one non-scientific climate claim after another, Koonin will no doubt leave the alarmists and the ecofascists, well, unsettled. Here’s hoping he has thick enough skin to withstand the attacks that are sure to come.

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