Review: Unsettled

One of my friends who is on the more conservative side of my bubble recommended this critique of Climate Science and coverage. Steven Koonin is a physicist and researcher who is well respected in his field. He does have experience as a first-class researcher and scientist as well as experience In politics. He was employed as an Undersecretary for Science in the Department of Energy under President Obama. He worked for BP as a their chief scientist for renewable energy. In short, he’s familiar with the field and qualified as a scientist. He also has identifiable biases.

Given all that, I think the factual questions he raise point to places where the various studies seem reasonable to question. I’m not a climate scientist and not terribly familiar with the studies, so I can’t address the correctness of his factual claims. Nothing he claims is unbelievable to me. I think that models can be sensitive to small perturbations of initial assumptions and that the interpretation does depend on the bias of the interpreters. Scientists have points of view, even when they try to be as objective as possible. Considering that is interpreting any research is important, especially research that is as charged as Climate Science is.

I think these kind of questions represent a healthy tussle about facts. That said, I think that no matter how extreme one finds the bias of climate reporting, there are plenty of problems that are frequently framed as climate problems that I care about regardless. For example, even if renewable energy is completely neutral to the climate, I support adoption and subsidies for plenty of other reasons. I don’t see Koonin’s concerns as significantly changing my policy positions.

If you are curious about critiques of Climate Science and reporting, it’s a well written set of concerns from a prominent scientist. There’s a back and forth about the content, of course. I found it interesting and worth my time, even if I didn’t fundamentally change my worldview.

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