What Right Wing Zealot Wrote This?




Policy makers and the public may wish for the comfort of certainty in their climate science. But I fear that rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is “settled” (or is a “hoax”) demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.

Society’s choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

But climate strategies beyond such “no regrets” efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity.

Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about “believing” or “denying” the science. Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity’s deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort.

Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.

Steven Koonin, Undersecretary For Science, Department of Energy, during Barack Obama’s first term.

More to explorer


  1. This quote from the movie, “My Cousin Vinny” fits here. “Everything that guy just said is bul*$#!+.”

    Which product was more dishonestly marketed: Amazing Live Sea Monkeys or anthropomorphic global warming?

  2. T.Shaw: “Which product was more dishonestly marketed: Amazing Live Sea Monkeys or anthropomorphic global warming? ”

    I am still waiting for my Amazing Live Sea Monkeys (brine Shrimp). The volcanos under Yellowstone National Park, in the Arctic and New Zealand will take care of anthropomorphic global warming before the chastising comet hits us.

  3. My take on the global warming debate is that it is irrelevant. I don’t deny the possibility that the alarmists are correct, but even if they are correct on the problem their solution is wrong.

    Here’s why. Human pollution is not the only cause of global warming. The sun is also getting warmer due to the fusion of hydrogen into helium in the core. This has been going on since the sun first formed. In fact, if the earth had its current atmosphere five billion years ago the oceans would have frozen completely over – the sun was that cool – and the chances of life starting would have been lessened (a complete freeze-over did happen later after life had already started and reduced the CO2 in the atmosphere, but after a few hundred million years the sun’s warming caught up).

    What this means is that a halt to our CO2 pollution will only buy us time. In just a million years or two the increase in solar output will undo any CO2 sequestration we attempt now as far as climate change is concerned. The efforts of the climate alarmists will have been undone by a force beyond our control.

    The real answer is that we need to develop terraforming technologies to protect life here on earth. A few hundred satellites with rotatable shades placed at the earth’s L1 Lagrangian point should do the trick. The only downside – other than the learning curve necessary in using them (“Last year’s winter was too cold, better rotate one or two edgewise this year”) – is that some of our solar observatories would have to move elsewhere in the solar system, since a full view of the sun would be blocked.

    One irony in this is that if we dismantle our industrial society to save the earth we will dismantle the tools needed to save it. This runs counter to the ‘humanity is a cancer on the planet’ meme so popular in eco-radical circles. I must admit as a Catholic Christian that this is one of my favorite cudgels.

    When I mention this in public I occasionally get an argument, and the reasons for the argument are very interesting. One counterview seems to come from the romantic view of ecology where everything is in balance. The problem with this view is that over the long term there never has been balance, and there never will be. The other counterview seems to come from a refusal to take the long term view. Taking a long term view implies that we have a responsibility to generations yet unborn. Gasp! What a dangerous idea!

  4. It’s interesting that Obama is so concerned with generations yet to come while on the same breath he idolizes the freedom to destroy generations through abortion.
    Climate Change? You bet. Unborn babies threatened in their microclimate could speak volumes if they we’re given a chance.

  5. Climate Change is manipulation and mind control.
    Tom D. :”One irony in this is that if we dismantle our industrial society to save the earth we will dismantle the tools needed to save it.”
    Excellent concept.

  6. TomD – I’ve also said to many the changes in the sun’s natural evolving state casts a huge impact on mother earth … but first I’ve seen the “big shield” theory. Interesting indeed. Assuming technologies are perfected .. that would also cast a huge unintended space weapon I suppose. I would have a hard time putting my faith in the person at the controls — weapon or not!! 🙂

  7. D Will, I know that many people see the potential for the misuse of such technologies (similar issues exist with the asteroid threat), but unfortunately we are stuck managing the world as it is. For example, just a handful of nitrogen fertilizer plants around the globe support the feeding of most of the population – two billion people alone depend on just one factory upstream of New Orleans. If these plants (or access to them) were to disappear billions would die. No, we have gone too far down the road from the natural world to be able to survive without our modern civilization, and few people today seem to understand the moral cost of backing up that road. I think that ecological principles are a great thing, but ultimately they exist to serve our needs.

    I suppose I’d be accused of speciesism for having witten that. My response is that every species practices speciesism, and in fact that practice is basically what makes a species a species.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: