I gotta say, these Climate Alarmist folks don't seem to understand the concept of leading by example.


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Steven lost me at the start, with a kind of inductive reasoning that projects human flourishing under rising temperatures in the 20th century with flourishing in the 21st century and beyond under rising temperatures.

So big leaps in reasoning turn out not to be exclusive to the catastrophe prophets. Scientists of all kinds keep doing this and it troubles me. I heard Glen trying to help him out but my trust was too weakened to continue listening.

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It is possible to believe that climate change is occurring AND also believe that govt is the least useful vehicle for addressing it. The latter is the part that is counter-intuitive. In govt, we have an institution that can barely manage to efficiently do the things most of us would agree belong in the public sector - infrastructure, the courts, public safety, perhaps schools due to the sheer size of the enterprise. Given this track record of mediocrity, at best, what sane person things elected officials and appointed bureaucrats can magically manage the climate?

The biggest obstacle to mass adoption of global anti-climate change policies is the poor people and developing nations climbing their way up. Good luck convincing them to give up relatively affordable and abundant energy sources for the sake of some future benefit that no one can quantify or empirically document. Then again, the climate cult doesn't care about the poor; the starving masses are the equivalent of collateral damage in a conventional war. But unlike most such wars, the climatists have never defined "victory." No one knows what it looks like, therefore no one would be able to recognize it, therefore the battle continues in perpetuity, which is a hallmark of activism.

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"climate science itself is quite difficult for a non-specialist to understand in its details."

Respectfully, I disagree with this, at least in part. The details are tiring and tedious to understand, in the same manner as any other technical specialty, but the difficulty is not encountered with understanding details; it lies in withholding acceptance of unsupported conclusions that are often derived from flawed datasets and spurious correlations.

We are inundated with assertions that are reliant on an empiric accumulation of conclusions, each reliant on various a priori assumptions.

When we review research papers, examining the references will reveal previous research, much of it never having been proven to have an actionable level of probability, and some of it disproven or even retracted. Adjustments to datasets is often arbitrary and reliant on redaction of specific elements that present inconveniently confounding factors.

A fascinating and potentially very useful area of inquiry, climatology, is rife with motivated reasoning and self-interested obscurantism. It is this very deliberate obscurantism that presents the challenge to understanding.

Koonin's treatise is an interesting and well-balanced example of adherence to an honestly-derived precautionary principle.

I will share with you, Glenn, that having observed the environmental movement become overwhelmed and co-opted by a growing climate-oriented industry has been an epiphany. I think that it's been good for me, intellectually, because it has induced a reexamination of the underlying assumptions that have driven my five-plus decades of environmental advocacy.

You, Sir, are vastly more qualified than I to opine on the hubris and arrogance of academics. do YOU think, knowing human nature and academia as you do, that the metastasization of a subject worthy of sober inquiry and serious consideration, into mass hysteria, is warranted?

Politicized, certainly, but more significantly; monetized. This, in and of itself, is unremarkable, but the entire field of research is now subject to perversity of incentive beyond anything we have yet encountered, given the amount of money involved.

it appears to have become a matter of secular faith, complete with megachurches.

You're old enough to remember when a certain televangelist, back in the seventies, became even more notorious than ever, for telling his flock that "Jesus had called him home, unless the faithful donated eight million dollars." I was channel-surfing one day in the eighties, and paused to watch a rebroadcast of that televised "sermon." It was fascinating, in a sad way.

In a similar fashion, the current drumbeat of hysteria that has superseded rational inquiry, is sadly fascinating. When the foundations are shaky, the structural integrity of the entire edifice is, to put it charitably, highly uncertain.

Thanks very much for the interview; it's a pleasure to observe sensible people engaging in an intelligent discussion.

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That was a good interview, Glenn. Listening to this guest was exhausting. Just as he critiques the media for preventing a distorted reality, he goes on to do the same. I’m not going to defend the media, as they do a terrible job of science reporting overall.

1) the world will not end because of global warming. As the temperature increases and weather/climate changes, populations of people will move. Other animals will maybe not be able to adapt, already many population have dropped substantially (not global warming primarily, probably other man made causes). At some point we will suffocate, but that won’t be until 40,000 ppm. Health effects like sleepiness and lack of concentration start at 1000 ppm, but an increase of 200ppm is related to increased level of asthma (data from indoor air quality). We are currently at about 400 ppm, increasing at about 24 ppm per decade. Prior to the industrial revolution atmospheric carbon dioxide was consistently about 280 ppm. End of the world? No. Something real, yes.

2) modeling. Koonin describes the complexities of modeling the earth. People are terrible at dealing with that level of complexity, which is exactly why modelers make different assumptions, take different approaches, and why the results are reported in aggregate, usual as an average or worst case/best case/highest probability. Contrary to his assertion, modeling is approached many other ways than his “cubes” description. For example, ice samples deep into ice can be used to approximate atmospheric carbon for much longer than 150 years. Data from tree rings and sediment can be used to learn about local weather over time. These can be combined to estimate atmospheric conditions over time. These data can further be combined to form a picture of how things are changing. We know the last time there was this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, people didn’t exist. We also know that, and have known that, the world was increasing in an average global temperature of 0.2c per decade since the 1970s. But Koonin doesn’t seem to deny this, he just shrugs.

3) water rise. Koonin indicated the rate of water rise goes up and down. Just be clear,, that means water level is increasing, just some decades it increases by less than other decades. I didn’t think that was clear, and those sorts of comments are exactly of the type that lead people to be confused about what is really happening. He cited Manhattan, but I cite Virginia’s Bay Area, https://chesapeakebaymagazine.com/norfolks-super-king-tide-exceeds-flooding-predictions/. The problem on the whole is that the consequences are not evenly distributed, as you might expect based on the prolific use of “average”.

4) the fossil fuel transition. There is clearly a stupid way to this. Doing it the stupid way, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a worthwhile goal, it just means we did it stupidly. Using natural gas as a transition when you are wholly dependent of Russia for it, as Germany has done, is stupid. Closing down your nuclear power without something to replace it is, I would argue, stupid. The US is not centralized like Germany, so that is not going to happen here. Wind farms, like the giant one in northern Indiana (liberal bastion that Indiana is), are great for places that have lots of wind and open land. Solar is great for places with lots of sun. Yes, you need base load electricity (like nuclear) or better electricity storage schemes. (They are working on cool storage schemes, so we’ll see if any of them prove economically feasible). Let’s consider the third world for a minute… what makes more sense for a mountain village in Nepal, a central plant that needs to distribute power/ fossil fuel through the mountains… or a solar panel or wind turbine, scalable for your needs, where you are? I just saw a rebuilt house in Pakistan made of mud and thatch with solar panel on the roof! In that way, a transition to more green (no, not 100%) energy may well be easier in the third world than it is here.

5) does a few degrees matter? I don’t know, and as Koonin freely admitted, neither does he. Some things he did not mention while taking the “probably not really” position:

- the “tipping point” previously the earth was buffering out emissions so that we experienced an environment that would be predicted at a lower carbon emissions level, the difference was 50 years… so in 2000 we experienced the carbon levels in the atmosphere that you would expect from emissions in around 1950. Weird, right? They weren’t sure what was responsible for that (seems like the best guess was the ocean) but whatever it was, the capacity of the earth to do that” buffering” seems to be over, so we effective have moved into a new regime of carbon behavior, we’ll see how that goes.

- there are feedback loops that Koonin fails to acknowledge. Yes, ice is melting from Greenland and Antarctica. That will increase water levels. It is also the case that currently the ice is melting from underneath, so the surface is still white. White is reflective. Once the ice is gone, warming will increase faster because the ground will absorb more heat. Also the poles are warming faster than where most people live, so this is happening faster than it may seem to us. Permafrost is melting as well. Permafrost has captured a lot of carbon (decaying of plants can’t happen in ice) and that may well be a large carbon release. How much? I don’t know, though I am not especially eager to find out.

-water, as anyone who has taken chemistry knows, is a weird chemical. The ocean is most of the surface of our planet. I have yet to see any calculations about how temperature changing could decrease the density of water and increase water levels just right there. A big chunk of carbon has been absorbed by the ocean (causing ocean acidification, coral bleaching, etc). I don’t think people are smart enough to think of all the impacts that increased temperatures will have on water sea level, humidity, precipitation, drought, storms, glacial melting, snow pack, etc. As Koonin reminds us, modeling is hard. Perhaps it calls us to be a little humble.

-hurricanes are powered by warm water, as evidenced by the number that start in the warm, shallow waters of the Caribbean. It defies logic that warming that water won’t impact the hurricanes. More? More powerful? Koonin acknowledged that they held/released more water, while making that seem like not a big deal. I guess we shall see.

4) contrarians. I am contrarian. It’s great to keep an open mind and avoid group think. Science is a field chock full of contrarians. Koonin describes his friend workin on a paper where the question was “how do we write this?” Of course it was! We know atmospheric carbon, temperatures, and sea level are increasing. Clearly the questions are how much? How fast? What do we recommend? These could well be described as “how do we write this?” The purpose of those meetings is to write the report, not to, as would inevitably be scientists inclinations, to bicker amongst themselves about minutia of energy balances, equilibrium conditions, and who’s research is most compelling. This page seems to be filled with people who think scientists with contrarian views are silenced. People are encouraged to stick to analyzing work within their field of expertise. Individual researchers must present their works to groups that always include cranks and contrarians questioning their analysis, data collection, assumptions etc. The stuff you hear in the media is not the best science, it’s just the loudest.

Well, that was quite a rant. On the whole I heard Koonin say he’s not convinced the changes that are coming are coming quick enough to worry about and supported that argument with as much as he could correct information, while hand waving at the worst scenarios. I’m not claiming the worst is coming, that the world is burning… but there are risks and my risk-averse conservative nature wants to try to mitigate any risks I can and work to keep things as predictable as is in my control (which is severely limited). I think it’s just as important not to wave away real risks, as it is to exaggerate low probability ones. If we had really taken this problem seriously 50 years ago when it was identified, it would have been much easier to thoughtfully and responsibly make these changes/transitions. Consider that the hysteria may be a reaction to our collective lack of response, as much it is to the issue itself.

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Thank you for doing and posting this interview with Steve Koonin. He is a great source of knowledge and sound judgement on issues related to climate change hysteria. Glenn, while this is not your area of expertise, your background in Economics gives you exposure to statistics and analysis of data as well as differential equations and mathematical modeling. A month or 2 of study could probably get you to the point of being able to develop your own views on the subject.

One of the things that wasn't discussed is that a few years ago, Koonin was selected by the American Physical Society (APS) to lead a review of the state of knowledge on climate change with the idea of revising the Society's position statement on the topic. A number of prominent members had resigned because of the lack of consultation with members on the statement. He gathered 4 or 5 experts on each side of the issue and spent 2 days at NYU discussing the issues. This led to a recommendation to modify APS' position statement to a more neutral and less alarmist one. The APS ignored this recommendation.

If anyone is interested, Jordan Peterson recently did separate interviews with Koonin and Richard Lindzen (a world renowned atmospheric physicist). These are available on YouTube (links below). These interviews are considerably longer and more detail oriented (and a bit rambling as is sometimes the case with Peterson).



Given all the recent discussion about group identity, I beg indulgence so that I can kvell a bit about both Lindzen and Koonin as NYC raised, public school educated members of my tribe.

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This is a bipartisan issue and I'm glad it's beginning to get a little more nuanced. The IPCC itself says they don't know with precision the ECS (Climate Sensitivity to Carbon). Which I find it difficult to understand how someone can have so much confidence that the climate change is at least 50% human caused. (I am genuinely open to someone giving me better data on this)

It seems odd that we don't know how sensitive the climate is to CO2 emissions. In my terms CO2 either has an R2 of 1% or 100% as a predictor of warming above the mean and lord only knows what the p-value is... It also rings odd that we know we have a highly complex system in climate. However, we are to believe that a univariate analysis explains it all...?

Then we are asked to slow global GDP by around $1trln each year to optimize for something that has an R2 of between 1-100. Thus it'll either have an impact or it will have a very very small impact. If all we are going to do is delay "the end of the world" by 3 weeks I supposed I'd rather have low income nations spend this last 100 years making advances.

Maybe we create a global fund of a few trillion dollars (a fraction of the annual GDP cost globally) to create incentives for businesses to produce ideas that reduce CO2 emissions even if they aren't profitable businesses. Something other than a completely unworkable solution that will result in exploding cost and likely food shortages and starvation...

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When I depart this planet I will not miss those who adhere to the squeaky wheel school of thought. Climate alarmists (and "green" lobbyists) are members in good standing.

The two best questions by far -- my opinion, of course -- concerned nuclear power and the magical alignment of political party with climate catastrophe views. It seems to me, if climate change presents the peril so many suggest, that we should be building nuclear power plants like our planet depended on it. That we're not speaks volumes.

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Thank you for having Dr. Koonin on. Like the interview, his book, UNSETTLED, was informative and insightful. I highly recommend it.

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Thank you for putting on Dr. Koonin, who along with Bjorn Lomborg and Michael Shellenberger try to bring some reason to this discussion. Now, please get John McWhorter to listen to this. More than once, in defense of his liberal “bona fides”, he has cited the climate apocalypse, and his approval thereof, as a reason to not brand him as a conservative despite his anti-woke tenets. Most liberal policies are disasters, whether it be affirmative action, the welfare state, or climate apocalypse. Good intentions and narcissistic compassion do not a better society make. Hopefully he will come around to this “conservative” truth.

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Get a more mainstream Climate Scientist too so as not to be blamed of only platforming dissenters.

Hear out their criticisms of people like Koonin and why they believe the mainstream narrative.

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I read Koonin’s book and two facts stuck out to me.

The first is the divergence of the models presented by different agencies from one IPCC report to the next. Models should converge over time.

The second is the sensitivity of the models to minor factors.

It looks to this outsider like they are trying to solve the “n body problem” using finer and finer grids with more and more variables. If that’s the case then this modeling approach is an exercise in futility.

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