Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist, has been profiled in a recent Wall Street Journal article that suggests he’s become a climate truth teller. If you’re aware of Betteridge’s Law of Headlines you’ll already have worked out that I think this is very unlikely to be the case.
I’ve written some previous posts about Steven Koonin’s views on climate science and also highlighted a fantastic comment made by Andy Lacis when Steven Koonin had a guest post on Judith Curry’s blog. We also introduced the term Kooninism to indicate a situation when someone suggests that because a number is small the impact is also small. Realclimate also has a recent post about Steve Koonin’s suggestion that we should have a review of climate science.
I do think it’s unfortunate when physicists live up to the stereotype. I’m not a fan of suggesting that researchers should stay in their own lane, but I do think the lone genius who overturns a well-accepted paradigm is a rarity. There’s, of course, nothing wrong with challenging our current understanding, but continually repeating well-debunked talking points is not the ideal way to do so. I also think that if you have the kind of profile that allows you to be promoted in the mainstream media, you should be cautious about the views that you promote.
I was thinking that I would rebut some of what Koonin says in the Wall Street Journal article, but realised that I’d mostly done so in this post, and that Gavin has been even more thorough in this Realclimate post. I’m not really sure what else to say, other than be cautious of accepting the views of (retired) physicists who think they’ve uncovered some truths that have been missed by a large number of experts in another field.
It turns out that Ray Pierrehumbert wrote an article in 2014 that rebutted many of the arguments that Koonin continues to make today.
How a Physicist Became a Climate Truth Teller – Wall Street Journal article about Steven Koonin.
Steve Koonin and the small percentage fallacy – one of my previous posts.
Kooninisms – another of my posts.
Andy Lacis responds to Steve Koonin – post highlighting Andy Lacis’ response to Steven Koonin.
Koonin’s case for yet another review of climate science – Gavin Schmidt’s Realclimate post reviewing a Steven Koonin video.
Climate Science is Settled Enough – The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction – 2014 article by Ray Pierrehumbert.