Steven Koonin on Climate Science vs. Political Science

Steven E. Koonin is a theoretical physicist whose research included computational physics, nuclear astrophysics, and computational modeling. He has served on various U.S. government advisory boards and chaired the JASON defense advisory panel. From 1995 through 2004 he was Provost of Caltech and from 2009 through 2011 Under Secretary for Science in the U.S. Department of Energy of the Obama administration.

Koonin is the author of the 2021 book, Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, which caused a variety of acute conditions among climate change catastrophists and advocates of return to those idyllic days when a world population of one billion huddled in the cold and lit their hovels with whale oil. Unsettled is currently the best-selling book on climatology at


In this interview with Brian Keating, Dr Koonin discusses what “the science” really says in the 3068 pages of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment report, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability [PDF, 378 Mb], and why it is foolhardy and dangerous to set policy and be governed by those who have read only the 33 page “Summary for Policymakers” [PDF, 1.4 Mb], “if that”.


Koonin is a good example of the inward-looking failures of our so-called intellectuals. Yes, he ticks all the right boxes for inclusion in the DC Swamp in-group. But over the critical years when he was in a position to actually do something positive, his mind was closed – refusing to look outside the Swamp paradigm.

From 2009 to 2011, he was Under Secretary for Science in the extreme Obama Administration’s Department of Energy. In 2014, Koonin was asked to lead an effort to update the American Physical Society’s public statement on climate. It was only during this effort that he realized climate science was “far less mature” (as he diplomatically puts it) than he had supposed. Where had he been for the previous two decades? By 2009, the literature was full of valid critiques of the insider view on climate – yet Koonin apparently never cracked the spine on any material that contravened the science insider view. Either that, or he knew the weakness of the insider view … and deliberately chose to ignore it.

His belated effort to recognize reality does not excuse his failure to pursue honest science when he was in government and had a chance to do the right thing.