Select Page

The Inconvenient Truth About Climate Science — Steven Koonin

The Inconvenient Truth About Climate Science — Steven Koonin

Real Talk: The Charles Mizrahi Show podcast

The Inconvenient Truth About Climate Science — Steven Koonin

Listen on Apple Podcast

Washington has spent nearly $2 trillion on “clean” energy incentives and is still pushing for a “Green New Deal”—all due to the prevailing concern about climate change. But what if they’re wrong? Today, I’m sitting down with the Department of Energy’s former Under Secretary of Science, Steve Koonin, to talk about the real facts behind modern climate science.

Topics Discussed:

  • An Introduction to Steven Koonin (00:00:00)
  • Why Climate Change is a Hot-Button Issue (00:02:09)
  • Rising Sea Levels and Melting Ice Caps (00:08:19)
  • Hurricanes, Tornadoes and other Disasters (13:45)
  • What’s Causing Climate Change (00:19:53)
  • Climate Science’s Effect on Society(00:26:40)
  • Changing Weather Challenges Global Warming (00:33:36)
  • The Death of Fossil Fuels Has Been Greatly Exaggerated (00:38:41)

Guest Bio:

Steven Koonin is a theoretical physicist and former Under Secretary for Science at the Department of Energy. He’s also a former director at the Center for Urban Science and Progress, a professor at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, and author of Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters.

Resources Mentioned:

Before You Leave:

  •  Be sure to Subscribe!
  •  CLICK HERE to Subscribe to Charles’ Alpha Investor newsletter today.

Read Transcript

Charles Mizrahi: Steve, thanks so much for coming on the show. I greatly appreciate it. I’ve been looking forward to it since we spoke last week. I really have so much I want to talk to you about because your subject is just absolutely fascinating. Mention it at a cocktail party and you immediately start World War III.

Steve Koonin: Right. Absolutely.

Charles: Folks, the name of the book is Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters. By the way, I just noticed this, Steve. I’m looking at Amazon. 4,423 reviews. Is that right?

Steve: Yeah. That’s right. We’ve sold altogether about 200,000 copies if you add up the ebook, the audio and the hardback. There was a hunger out there for a straight-forward explanation of what climate science tells us.

Charles: The book is out since April 27. So the book is out close to two years.

Steve: Correct.

Charles: 4,400 reviews. I just want to say, total disclosure, 80% are five star. You are talking around 2,500 five star. 13% are four star. And then 4% three star, 1% two star, and one star is 2%. People will hate you not matter what. They just don’t like you.

Steve: Of course. Whatever you say. It goes with the territory. Exactly.

Charles: Beautiful. Steve, what I found fascinating because when I deal with investing I try to stick to the facts. There’s so much subjectivity that kinda gets in there. You try to push out your subjectivity and your biases. You always try to fight your bias and stick with the facts.

With climate change, first of all, why is that such a hot button that gets people in the same family screaming at each other?

Steve: Climate is complicated, first of all. Second, it touches deeply into human existence. It is the background in which we have our lives, build our societies and so on. So people are very interested. Because of the current media and political focus, they are very concerned about the future of climate.

Charles: Can I say this? I am not a scientist. Please forgive me if I’m too basic or elementary. Is it fair to say, is it a true statement, that climate is getting warmer over the past 100 years?

Steve: The Earth has warmed. It’s warmed about 1.3 degrees Celsius or 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. So 120 years. Yes, it has done that. It has not done so steadily. It warmed kind of rapidly from 1910 to 1940. Then it actually cooled slightly from 1940 to 1970.

Then it’s been warming again, more or less steadily, since about 1980.

Charles: OK, but bottom line if I drew a graph, we would show it would be up and to the right.

Steve: That’s correct. Actually, if you go back further to the ice age in the 17th Century, it started warming even then. It was unusually cold in the 17th Century.

Charles: Just an aside for a second. I was telling my kids we used to sing growing up in the 70s. In school we had to learn “Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go.”

Steve: Indeed. I know the song.

Charles: Great. It’s “over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go. The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh.” This was talking about Thanksgiving.

Steve: Of course.

Charles: This Thanksgiving and the last 20 Thanksgivings, I didn’t even wear a sweater.

Steve: Yeah, things have gotten warmer. There’s no question about that. As I said, average of about 1.3 degrees, but warming more in the temperate latitudes and less around the equator. And a lot toward the North Pole.

Charles: I want to move away from some hot buttons. I just want you to give me the science first. Why is that such a big deal?

Steve: Well, you know, at one level it’s not. I like to say in the last 120 years as we’ve seen 1.3 degrees of warming, the world has prospered. The number of humans on the planet went up by a factor of five. The lifespan went from 32 years to 72 years. The GDP per capita went up by a factor of seven.

All kinds of good things happened. You might say because of, other people would say despite of that 1.3 degrees Celsius.

Charles: Give me something good that came of it.

Steve: Well, the Earth is a lot greener now than it used to be, say, 40 years ago. That’s NASA talking. By the way, everything I’m going to tell you is in the official reports or the data. I’m not making any of this stuff up.

Charles: I’m not hearing stuff pulled off the top of your head. Your basically giving me the facts from government agencies. Non biased. Just the facts.

Steve: Just the facts. Crop yields have gone up a lot. In part due to the fact that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere helps plants grow. In part due to the fact that the growing seasons are a little longer than they used to be. Also in part due to the fact that we’ve gotten a lot better at agronomics.

We’re much better at growing things. So yields all over the world have exploded.

Charles: I remember growing up I used to plant a little patch of land in Brooklyn. Really, I mean it was four by six. I used to plant tomato plants and cucumbers and flowers. I remember the map on the back, you know, plant early for this climate. That’s no longer the case.

I planted my tulips at my house last year. I had to wait ‘till – I think I usually plant them in October or November, now I went all the way to December to plant them.

Steve: Yeah, growing seasons have gotten longer in the middle latitudes. There’s no question about that.

Charles: That’s the good part. You mentioned all the good stuff, which we don’t hear enough about. Now that you’re talking about it I think it makes a lot of sense. More green.

Steve: I got another good one. It’s got to do with some disinformation the UN has been spreading recently. Here’s a good one. When you read the most recent UN report about climate, which they issued about three weeks ago on March 20, they said – and it’s the only sentence about extreme temperatures – they said extreme heat waves are causing more deaths.

That’s not the exact wording, but it’s close enough. But if you go to the research literature, what you find is that’s true, but the fact that the extreme cold is becoming less common actually causes fewer deaths. The net is there are fewer deaths as the globe warms from extreme temperatures.

Of course, they won’t tell you that. They’re trying to persuade you rather than inform you. But the good answer is that there are fewer deaths from extreme temperatures now than there were 30 or 50 years ago. 

Charles: So the world is greener, more crops, more food, carbon dioxide because there’s more green vegetation, more trees sucking that out of the air.

Steve: All good stuff.

Charles: All good stuff. OK, then I’m going to flip to this side and say the polar bears, they’re dying in the North Pole. The polar caps are melting. We’re going to have sea levels rise. We’re going to be flooded and Armageddon is coming.

Steve: Yeah right. I don’t know which one of those we want to take first. Let’s do sea level rise, alright? There’s been a tide gauge at the tip of Manhattan at The Battery, for 160 years. It measures the height of the sea level. What you find is that over that 160 years it’s been rising at one foot a century.

And it’s been doing that steadily. The last decade or two it’s been a little faster. But you go back and it was as fast in the 1920s and 1930s. So no hint of catastrophic things eminent if you look at the sea level gauge at The Battery, for example.

Charles: What about the rest of the world? You’re talking about Bangladesh.,,,

Steve: Well, you know, sea level is complicated because it depends not only on the global sea level, but what’s going on locally. Is the land rising? Is it sinking? Is there erosion going on? So there are places on the Gulf Coast where the local sea level is going up more rapidly.

But then there are other places, let’s say in Alaska, where the sea level is actually going down rather than up. What we see locally, which is in the end what really matters, really is a complicated confluence of several different factors.

Anyway, again, for what we as New Yorkers perhaps care about, it’s a foot a century. NOAA, the government, projects it’s going to go up to three feet a century in 50 years from now or 30 years from now. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Charles: A lot of those predictions – and this is just the facts, folks. Forget about political bias here. All the predictions of the end of the world have been greatly exaggerated because they just have not taken place.

Steve: You know, all this data by the way is available on the web. If you can just Google. You search for tides and trends and The Battery you will find it.

Charles: So let me keep going. Let me keep going on things I’ve heard. In preparation for our interview I was asking people. Global warming is terrible. These are the buzz words that keep coming out. Polar caps melting. There’s pictures of it. Polar bears dying. Areas that we’re now able to travel by ship to areas of the Arctic we were never able to get to.

Steve: Let me do melting of Greenland first and then I’ll get to melting in the Arctic Ocean. Greenland is losing ice every year. That’s clear. That’s been true since the 1900s, the beginning of the 20th Century. But the amount of ice that it loses every year varies a lot.

The net loss is the sum of or the difference between how much snow falls during the winter and how much comes out during the summertime – how much melts. What you find is that the rate of melting – how much it lost every year – did indeed accelerate a lot from 1990 until 2010 or so.

But the last decade it’s been going down. The peak that the melting reached in about 2010 or 2011 was just about the same as the peak it hit in 1930 when human influences were much smaller. So the media make a big deal of Greenland melting faster and faster, but in fact that’s due entirely to natural processes, currents and winds in the North Atlantic. It has very little to do with greenhouse gases and human influences.

Alright? So let’s do the Arctic Ocean. One measure is how much of the Arctic Ocean is covered with ice every September. September is the minimum. It’s the end of the summer so there’s less ice there than there is at other times of the year. So you can look every year over the last 40 years.

What you discover is, yes, it was going down from about 1980. It was getting less and less. But for the last 10 years, it hasn’t changed at all. It’s the same number. That should tell you maybe there’s something more complicated going on. In fact, it depends on the currents in the Arctic Basin and it depends upon the winds which can push the ice out or in and so on.

Like many climate things, it’s complicated. We can get fixated on short-term trends when, in fact, long term it’s a very different picture.

Charles: Next, hurricanes, tornadoes, wind storms. More frequency, more damaging.

Steve: You could read the latest IPCC report and it says it’s very difficult to detect any trends in frequency or intensity of hurricanes over the last century. There is a hint from one set of observations that maybe on average storms are getting stronger, but not more frequent.

Even that study was contradicted by a study that looked at the historical record and says, nah, the recent rise in intensity is just within natural variability. I think the bottom line is, whether hurricanes are changing or not or will change in the future is still kind of unsettled.

But the historical trend is that there is very little evidence for anything significant happening. You can look at landfalls in the U.S. of hurricanes. No trend at all. For tornadoes we’ve got pretty good data from about 1970 onward when we started watching tornadoes with radar.

If you correct that fact that we can see more tornadoes now. The actual number of strong tornadoes has gone down over the last 30 or 40 years, rather than gone up. So nothing like that there.

Charles: So what we’re doing is we’re not looking at the science. We’re looking at the media. We’re looking at the bias. We’re looking at the sensationalism. We’re looking at clickbait. It makes good copy. It makes good clicks. It makes good stories. But the science just isn’t there.

Steve: The data doesn’t – I mean, to be fair, we should talk about one thing that is there. That is over most of the land where we have good data we see greater lumpiness in precipitation, mainly when it rains it rains harder. But the average amount of rain is still pretty much the same.

We’ve seen that in the Northeast. Whether that’s a long-term trend or just part of natural cycles is really difficult to decipher. The media love to fixate on the weather as opposed to the climate. The politicians love it as well because then you can scare the wits out of people and they want to be led to safety by whatever green schemes.

Charles: Terrible energy policy based on faulty data.

Steve: Yeah or misperception of the data. Misrepresentation of the data. I always tell my students, go check the data yourself. I’ll give you another example. This summer we saw terrible floods in Pakistan. You may remember in September. Two days after the floods happened the Pakistani Environmental Minister gets on the media and says this is the worst since 1961 and you owe us money.

The scientist in me as I teach my students is you ask, ‘What happened before 1961?” If you look at the data, which again is available on the web, the monsoon in 1961 was pretty intense. But there were other monsoons just as strong in the prior 100 years. What made this summer particularly disastrous was there are a lot more people living in Pakistan now than there were 60 years ago.

They are living on flood plains. The mountains have been demitted of trees. That lets the water just run down off the mountain onto the flood plain and clobbers an awful lot of people. So, yes, human influences had a lot to do with that disaster, but it wasn’t in the way that most people think it was. It’s how we organize society in Pakistan.

Charles: I remember several years ago I went to a museum in Miami and they showed the Everglades and how every few years a big, huge storm comes in. But you look at that whole path and there was nothing there but forest and trees. We built homes, condos, buildings, towers, in that path.

Then we are wondering when it comes. Look at the devastation.

Steve: We saw the same in California with the town of Paradise a couple summers ago. Right in the middle of the forest. And to make it worse, they weren’t cutting down the trees in the forest as you should. So there’s plenty of fuel there to burn when it started to burn.

Charles: We can agree, simply because the facts tell us, 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Steve: 1.3.

Charles: 1.3 over what period of time?

Steve: Since 1900. So 120 years.

Charles: So what is that? 1.3 degrees Celsius over ….

Steve: 120 years.

Charles: And so if we project that out – could we project that out?

Steve: You can. By coincidence perhaps, the UN says we will see about another 1.3 degrees over the next 100 years.

Charles: OK.

Steve: It depends a lot on emissions and the models, but a good number is 1.3.

Charles: So we’ll keep it 1.3. We could all agree, based on the facts, that the world is getting warmer. All the things I mentioned, you are telling me and showing me via facts and not sensationalism that there’s a flipside to it. You mentioned several cases where you show me the gross profit without taking out the expenses.

Yes it did this, but no one did that. So the devil quoted his own scripture. If you want to make the point, even the devil will work. The big hot button – I shouldn’t say hot button – the big point of contention with most people is the cause of this. Correct me if I’m wrong, many people say this is influenced in a big way by emissions, carbon emissions.

Not the stuff you’re talking about. We don’t talk anything about denaturing forests or destroying the Amazon or clear cutting. I remember there was a – I forget the name of it in California. They created a solar farm. I don’t know how many miles of area they just absolutely destroyed.

Let’s put all that aside. The biggest point of contention that I see – and you being a man of science see it much more – is the cause of this. Why are people so emotional in defending and not listening to reason, to facts, that they feel more comfortable saying it’s because of carbon emissions, because of this, because of that, because of our destruction of the planet?

Why do you think that it’s such a kneejerk reaction for most?

Steve: I think in well-to-do societies like the U.S. and Europe, there’s a little bit of guilt perhaps of living so well compared to the rest of the world. I think also for some people if you are going to try to fix that it means a wholesale of overturning of the way in which we produce energy.

Some people see commercial opportunity in that. I think people who advocate for large and rapid reductions in emissions just really don’t understand the energy system or the global situation. And we should talk about that a little bit.

Let me say at the outset before we get into that discussion, carbon dioxide is building up in the atmosphere because we are burning fossil fuels. That buildup is exerting a warming influence on the planet. Small, but nevertheless perhaps significant.

The big point of contention scientifically is how does the planet respond to that warming influence because there are other influences as well, but this is the dominant one.

Charles: How you answer that question is going to dictate your energy policy.

Steve: Well, no, there’s a lot more than just climate science that’s going to dictate your energy policy. For example, I think the big one is that there are about six billion people in the world who don’t have enough energy. The average person in the U.S. uses 30 times the average energy use in Nigeria for example.

There are three billion people on the planet who use less electricity ever year than the average U.S. refrigerator. The energy poverty is astounding. Those folks, the majority of the human race, need more energy to improve their lives. Whether it’s lighting, refrigeration, mobility, and so on.

The most reliable and convenient way for them to get that energy is fossil fuels – coal, oil, gas. To tell them that they cannot do that is absolutely immoral. I think that’s the biggest issue you have to deal with if you say we gotta reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Charles: I was reading somewhere that 2.4 billion people cook and heat their food through biomass.

Steve: Yeah. Traditional biomass as it’s called, which means wood and dung. The indoor air pollution from that is terrible. It kills two million people a year. If you want to fix that, you give them propane. A dreaded fossil fuel. But you’ll save lives that way.

The people in the developing world, they understand this. They know they need fossil fuels to improve their lives. The leaders say that. If you listen to the Indian prime minister, basically he is saying you say we have to reduce emissions. What do you mean we? We need the energy.

Charles: Right. They still need to have electricity for their incubators, refrigeration for medicines, which they’re not getting. They’re dying because of. Where did we get this wrong? Why have all the scientists out there? You can easily sit down with someone like you who is levelheaded and has all the facts.

Why is there such a barrier for people to not only accept this, but think more rationally?

Steve: You know, you are now asking me to start to answer questions for which I have no expertise. I am just a science guy. Among the scientists the right thing to say is I don’t know. But I can give you impressions. One is energy and climate are both complicated subjects.

For me, it took several years to understand things, even if I was a reasonably accomplished scientist. So, it’s complicated first of all. The second is that the media, which we’ve talked about already, but also politicians and the NGOs – nongovernment organizations, Greenpeace,, Union of Concerned Scientists – they’ve all bought into this notion of catastrophic climate change for their own ends.

The politicians — I like this quote from H.L. Mencken who was a journalist writing in the early 20th Century. It’s something like the purpose of practical politics is to keep the populous alarmed by a series of mostly imaginary hobgoblins so that they can be clambering to be led to safety.

You see that with climate, but you see it on the other side of the political spectrum with immigration, for example, and so on. So there’s some truth in all this, but it is so exaggerated by the politicians and the media that you can’t blame the public for not knowing what to think.

Charles: Also the movie industry. I just was watching – I think on Apple TV – I flipped there for two seconds about the Earth in 30 or 50 years from now. I just said, “let me turn this crap off.” It makes you a movie. It’s coming to a point – I shouldn’t say it’s coming, it’s already at a point where people are at each other’s throats on this.

Steve: They are. It’s gotten a bit better in the last six months. I was excoriated for writing the book and saying the things I’m saying, even though I can point to exactly where it is in the official reports. I think what’s going to happen is eventually it’s going to impact the lives of ordinary people enough that they are going to say, “Tell me again why we’re trying to reduce emissions?”

Whether it’s the fact you couldn’t buy an ordinary car, or your electric bill becomes so expensive, or you can’t get a gas hookup for your house in Westchester these days, for example. I think people are going to start to rebel. You see it already.

In Europe, the European Union wanted to ban the manufacture of internal combustion engine vehicles. Germany and Italy basically said hell no.

Charles: It’s not practical. Look what’s happening in New York. Gas ranges, gas stoves are outlawed, which is just insanity. How intrusive does the government have to get based on zero science.

Steve: Right. Again, what’s particularly disturbing to me is that phenomenon is mostly in the western world, in the U.S. and Europe. It’s not there in China, in India. And we have to compete with those folks. We’re going to tie more than one hand behind our back if we have a suboptimal energy system.

Charles: How do you see this? From an average guy like me and our listeners, you’re a man of science, you said you spent seven years trying to figure this out and how complicated and complex this whole thing is and how many variables are involved. How just trying to find the trends statistically is virtually impossible at times.

Sometimes they lead us to no conclusion. What chance do I have really understanding what this is all about and coming to an educated conclusion based on the facts?

Steve: It’s really tough. What I tell my students, who are a mix of engineers and MBAs, is first of all, believe essentially nothing. Go check for yourself. Go check the data, which you can find. Like that Pakistan story I told you.

Second, look at diversity of sources. The coverage in the Wall Street Journal, for example, is very different than the coverage in the Washington Post on climate issues.

A third thing you can do is to read the official reports. If you’re interested in Greenland melting, you can find that section in the reports. What you discover it’s a lot less black and white and much more gray than what you would hear in the media.

Don’t trust anybody. Go find out for yourself. But it takes time and energy to do that.

Charles: I think that’s a pipe dream. People don’t want to work to find the numbers. It’s much easier to say that the world is getting warmer and stop using your gas car and buy an electric vehicle, which takes up more CO2 emissions than a real car.

Steve: Yeah, all true.

Charles: Do we have a shot of getting your message from your book – well, 4,000 people read it. Not 4,000. Those were the ratings.

Steve: No, it was 200,000.

Charles: What did you say? 20,000?

Steve: 200,000.

Charles: 200,000. The 200,000 are hopefully more enlightened people. In a planet of 7.9 billion, you started somewhere. What chance do we have of this rhetoric just ratcheting it down?

Steve: I feel somewhat optimistic. I have been out and about debating at college campuses. Some prominent schools. I just did Cornell.

Charles: Hang on. When you go out there, when you go out to debate, are you shouted down? Are you booed?

Steve: No. No, that hasn’t happened yet. In part because the debates are billed as civil discourse about a hot topic. We get a couple hundred students at each debate. I’ve got a good opponent. We go through the facts. I’m proud to say I’ve won every debate. I have done five so far.

I think the students are tired of being fed something that is too simplistic and, in part, not true. So they are hungry for good factual discussions. That’s one. The second is I talk to many people in finance, in the energy industry and other industries. They’ll agree with much of what I say.

But they often say I dare not say that in public because of the stakeholders. Not the shareholders, the stakeholders.

Charles: ESG.

Steve: ESG and all of that.

Then finally I do talk to people in the government and Congress. Not so much in this Executive Branch, but in Congress. There’s a resonance there as well. In the end, reality bites. You cannot transform the energy system as rapidly or as completely as what people are aspiring to. That’s going to cause the whole thing to become a problem.

Charles: Last thing…

Steve: I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything, alright? But let’s make whatever energy transition we make, let’s do it gracefully. You gotta worry about technology, economics because it’s a business, regulation, behavior and so on. Let’s get a plan.

Charles: There are a lot of moving parts.

Steve: Right.

Charles: Totally with you. A few years ago, California was going through a severe drought. Just a short while ago they were having snowstorms and tons of water coming down. Since you debate people on the other side, how do they deal with something like that which goes against their world view?

Steve: They generally tend not to respond to that. When I talk about that, I show them first of all the record over 1,000 years of drought in the U.S. Southwest, which was have from tree rings and other sources. You see that they are long periods – 30 or 40 years – as long ago as 700 years where it was very dry.

That was, of course, all natural. Then it starts to get wet again. In the current past couple decades, California has been going into drought since about 2000. But, in fact, this year as you noted is extraordinarily wet, but not again unprecedentedly so.

There was a tremendous flood in 1861. The whole central valley in California was under some number of feet of water. Weather is fickle and can be extreme all on its own. People tend to forget that.

Charles: What do you think 100 years from now historians are going to look back on this period of time and how we dealt with climate?

Steve: I think it will be a blip of a couple decades. We might look at it the way people dealt with eugenics in the early 20th Century. Or the way in which people perverted agriculture in the early Soviet Union. I think it will be seen as something with some grain of truth, but that was perverted by appeal to science.

It will eventually right itself, but it’s going to take a while.

Charles: What can you compare this to? You brought up a couple examples. Eugenics for example, which was considered a science of its day. Lobotomies were considered a standard medical procedure. Everyone bought in, hook, line, and sinker. What do you compare this to?

Steve: There is really nothing to compare it to because unlike lobotomies or eugenics, this touches every part of society. I like to say and borrow a line from a current movie, energy touches everything, everywhere, all the time. If you mess with the energy system, which is what is happening, you are going to affect everything.

Eugenics was not like that. So I’m worried. I just hope it doesn’t go too far before people come to their senses.

Charles: What class do you teach?

Steve: I teach at the Master’s level at New York University. In the fall term I teach climate science. I teach it right out of the UN reports and the research literature. In the spring term I teach energy, soup to nuts. The technology, the business, the regulation and so on.

In the energy course you are not allowed to challenge the need to reduce emissions. We just take it as a given. Whereas in the climate course we of course talk about it.

Charles: What do you mean you’re not allowed?

Steve: You know, it’s taken as a given that a goal of the energy system is to reduce emissions. What the students come away with in that course and also the climate the course, their eyes get opened up. They realize just how hard it is or it’s going to be to significantly reduce emissions.

In part because of the developing world. In part because energy systems change slowly. I can go on and on. It’s my bit to enlighten folks somewhat. It’s amazing how their perceptions of energy or climate changes when they finish those courses.

Charles: I spent over a year learning everything I could. I started last April with Mark Mills of the Manhattan Institute.

Steve: Yeah, yeah. Mark’s great.

Charles: He opened my eyes. Here I was getting two Teslas, getting rid of my gas-powered cars. Then he goes, “When you plug that in, where is that going? Where are they getting the cobalt from? Where are they getting the copper?”

Steve: That’s another barrier is the critical materials. In fact, I have Mark talking to my class next week.

Charles: Oh, how about that? We had him on the show twice already.

Steve: He’s great.

Charles: He’s like a machine gun with facts at you. My gosh. The death of fossil fuel has been greatly exaggerated. It’s more of an aspiration. All the things you’re mentioning now, I think with climate I tend to agree. We don’t like complexity; we like simplicity. This is such an easy cause and effect.

Steve: For some of the media there is an echo chamber. I could not get a piece in the New York Times or the Washington Post or The Guardian in the UK. Absolutely no way. Whereas the Wall Street Journal, at least on the editorial page, is happy to have me write about climate or energy.

You know, the message is not getting through. There is one – at least from my point of view – positive development. I’m starting to get asked to speak at forums you would not think they would want to have me.

Whether it’s because they feel like they need a little intellectual diversity or they really want to hear the message, I don’t know. But at least in the coming months I will have an opportunity to talk to some audiences that need to hear the message that haven’t.

Charles: I looked at your book. The 4,400 reviews are not from China. Some of the comments are – people feel enlightened. They feel empowered.

Steve: My goal because not only am I scientists but really I’m a teacher was to try to take this complicated subject and provide people with a framework to think about it. Then fill in some of the things on the framework, but also give them references, links and so on where they could go check what I was saying or learn more for themselves.

Charles: Do you have a website?

Steve: You know, I have a somewhat badly curated Medium site. If you search for Medium and Koonin you will find my page. There are links to recorded presentations, interviews, responses to critics.

One word about reception, soon after the book came out there appeared a piece in Scientific American written by a dozen climate scientists, including the famous Michael Mann. It was 1,000 words. A lot of name calling, but only three scientific points. All of which were easily rebutted.

They said I said things I have never said. I wrote a response to Scientific American. They refused to publish it. I put it up on my webpage. But in one of the debates I was debating one of the authors of that piece. I said, “Do you really think I’m a crank, a shill?” Those were the words that were used.

He said, “I didn’t even know my name was on that piece.” The public discussion among the scientists is just disgraceful. Disgraceful.

Charles: Wow. Folks, the name of the book is Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters by the amazing Steve Koonin, professor at NYU. You’re getting a Master’s course for the cost on Kindle of $10. I think that’s a pretty good deal.

I don’t know what NYU is up to these days, but it’s pretty expensive.

Steve: In terms of money, yes. It is quite a liberal school, but I kinda fly under the radar. I teach my courses. They haven’t bashed me yet.

Charles: I may get that resume all polished up. Steve, thanks so much. I greatly appreciate it. All the power to you. Continued success.

Steve: Charles, wonderful talking with you.

Charles: Thank you.

Latest Podcasts

“Pipe Dreams” vs. Pipeline Reality — Diana Furchtgott-Roth

“Pipe Dreams” vs. Pipeline Reality — Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Oil and Gas pipelines have become a hot topic in today’s energy debates. New projects like the Keystone pipeline could help rein in rising oil and gas prices. But they’re meeting unprecedented resistance from politicians, environmentalists — and even bankers. Today...

The Energy Transition Delusion — Mark Mills

The Energy Transition Delusion — Mark Mills

Biden’s Green Energy mandates have won over millions of Americans … but not Mark Mills. Mark’s a physicist who was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society. He recently authored The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will...

The Future of Gas and Oil in a “Green” World

The Future of Gas and Oil in a “Green” World

Josh Young is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Bison Interests, a hedge fund whose oil and gas investments soared 349% in 2021. He goes above and beyond when it comes to research—conducting extensive research and networking with contacts all over the world,...