Steven Koonin in Brussels

Contributed by Drieu Godefridi © 2023

Drieu Godefridi is the author of “The Green Reich

When friends in Paris told us that they wanted to invite the American physicist Steven Koonin to Paris for the translation of his book Unsettled, what climate science tells us, what it doesn’t, and why it matters (BenBella Books, Dallas, 2021), we quickly mobilised to suggest a Brussels stop. Steven Koonin was quick to accept, between London and Paris.

Who is Steven Koonin? A leading physicist, Koonin was Undersecretary for Science in President Obama’s administration, professor of theoretical physics at Caltech (California Institute of Technology), author of more than 200 peer-reviewed articles in the field of physics, astrophysics, scientific computing, energy and climate science.

A big name. With all the credentials of the ‘official science’, of the establishment. A leading light – a notable, as you would find in Balzac. A staunch Democrat, who jumps from university to politics, from politics to university, before recovering by a triple salto leaving him with one foot in science and one foot in politics. Almost the Deep State.

But not at all. Koonin is first and foremost a scientist. In 2021, he published Unsettled, which supports ideas that are a complete break with the famous ‘consensus’. These include: climate alarmism is unjustified, models are being made to say what they do not say. Even if man’s influence on the climate is undeniable, nature’s contribution remains poorly known and little quantified. Climate science is still developing, it is by no means ‘settled’. Even if the IPCC’s most alarmist climate projections were to come true, the economic consequences would be minor and perfectly controllable. The ‘zero-carbon’ society is a chimera and an insult to intelligence. Man will have to adapt to climate change, which he will do, as he has always done. Calls to devastate our societies in the name of ‘climate protection’ are alien to science.

The day before his conference in Brussels, we were having dinner with Koonin, including Prof. Jef Ongena and Prof. Samuele Furfari. I asked Koonin what had made him decide to publish a book that would necessarily throw him into the deep end of his political and academic circles. His answer: ‘I realised that the truth was not being told. That science was being distorted to serve a political discourse that was alien to it. As a scientist, I had to react. Amusingly, at the conference the next day, one of the people present asked him exactly the same question. His answer was even more clear-cut: ‘I don’t give a shit.’ Tough guy.

Tough guy, indeed. In writing Unsettled, Koonin has made it a rule to rely exclusively on data from IPCC reports and a few official sources, notably American. Consequently, none of Unsettled’s data or diagrams can be challenged by the IPCC line.

What is contestable is the political lessons drawn from the data. As Koonin reminded us, the original sin of the IPPC lies in this ‘detail’: making policy by pretending to do science. The IPCC reports consist of three parts: the first part provides a synthesis of climate science, the second part attempts to assess the negative impacts of observed changes on humans. The third part of the IPCC reports claims to derive policies in all areas from the first two: industry, construction, mobility, but also economics, ethics, etc. In short, the IPCC claims to derive politics from science. This is a naïve, futile and deeply harmful re-enactment of Ernest Renan’s nineteenth-century scientistic error. Science must inform the political debate. It can in no way replace it. (There is nothing at all wrong with scientists as activists, but activism masquerading as The Science is pernicious’, writes Koonin (US edition of Unsettled, page 10).

The conference was moderated by Prof. Samuele Furfari, who knows a thing or two about the politicisation of science. While teaching at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) – for free! – Prof. Furfari was the victim of a cabal fomented by anonymous students who demanded his eviction because of his positions on climate. As it happens, Furfari’s positions are similar to those of Koonin: strict respect for data, and an equally strict rejection of the delusional extremist policies that are claimed to derive from it. Furfari has never known the names of his courageous accusers, let alone been put in a position to answer them. Stalinist procedure. So much for ‘rights of defence’ and ‘free examination’! Furfari decided to leave the university.

In its 17 March edition, the Financial Times devoted a full page to the now unrealistic goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees (since the beginning of the industrial era). India, China, indeed the whole of the non-Western world, has no intention of giving up on further development. This development means that CO2 emissions will increase in the coming decades. That is a fact.

We must adapt to this fact. Through technology, through the continuation of the scientific debate, through reopening it in truth. And not by destroying the Western economies. For such destruction, Koonin mischievously reminded us, would have no measurable effect on the climate.

L-r: Drieu Godefridi, Samuel Furfari, Steve Koonin, John Bogaerts

Steve Koonin’s book “Unsettled…” available on Amazon

1 Comment

  1. John Wood

    Steven Koonin’s book is right on the mark – The whole IPCC organization is political, not scientific, and they ignore basic (and advanced) science and scientific principles to push their global agenda.

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