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Will Obama Deny the ‘Obama Scientist’ at Glasgow UN Climate Summit? Physicist Koonin puts the former president’s demagogy in new light

Next week Barack Obama will ignore the inherent paradox in flying to a climate summit and join thousands of other progressive jet-setters in Glasgow.

Obama cannot claim ignorance about the paradox. In his 2019 memoir, A Promised Land, he admits to the unfortunate optics of his trip to the 2009 UN global summit on climate change in Copenhagen. “Has anyone ever considered,” he reportedly asked an aide on the flight to Copenhagen, “the amount of carbon dioxide I’m releasing into the atmosphere as a result of these trips to Europe?” The aide quipped, “You might not want to mention that in your speech tomorrow.”

This time, of course, Obama will ignore the jet-setter paradox, and the media will enable him. What will be a little trickier to ignore is the man that friend and foe alike identify as “Obama Scientist,” namely physicist Dr. Steven Koonin, Obama’s one-time undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy.

In a friendly Washington Post op-ed headlined, “An Obama scientist debunks the climate doom-mongers,” Marc Thiessen ties Koonin directly to Obama. In an unfriendly piece in Scientific American, “That ‘Obama Scientist’ Climate Skeptic You’ve Been Hearing About,” a dozen or so co-authors do the same.  Undeniable is that powerful people have been “hearing about” Koonin and linking him right back to the 44th president. Obama has to be aware.   

In his 2021 book Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters, Koonin kills with kindness, but kill he does. The people he writes about are people he knows personally. Until about 2014, when he experienced something of an epiphany, he was one of them. He goes much easier on his former colleagues than he might.

The Scientific American authors — Climategate’s Michael Mann prominent among them — acknowledge the special kind of pain an Obama appointee and self-identifying Democrat like Koonin inflicts:

If you’d heard only that a scientist who served in the Trump administration and now regularly appears on Fox News and other conservative media thinks climate change is a hoax, you’d roll your eyes and move on. But if you heard that someone associated with former President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration was calling the climate science consensus a conspiracy, the novelty of the messenger might make you take it a little more seriously.

What makes Koonin doubly dangerous is that he is not a denier, nor even really a skeptic. He acknowledges that carbon dioxide has a slight warming effect and that humans bear some responsibility. He also believes, however, that prominent people have a responsibility to tell the truth. In this regard, he does not call out Obama by name, but he could have and probably should have.

Obama is reportedly going to Glasgow to meet with youth activists. According to an Obama spokesman, the former president will “urge more robust action going forward by all of us — governments, the private sector, philanthropy, and civil society.” One has to wonder whether he will drug these youths with the climate hysteria he has been pushing for the last decade or so.

“By the time I was running for president,” Obama writes in his recent memoir, “the clear consensus among scientists was that in the absence of bold, coordinated international action to reduce emissions, global temperatures were destined to climb another two degrees Celsius within a few decades. Past that point, the planet could experience an acceleration of melting ice caps, rising oceans, and extreme weather from which there was no return.”

If he ever was, Koonin is no longer part of the alleged consensus. He writes, “The rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today.” Here he cites the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In fact, Koonin draws all of his conclusions from official U.S. government or United Nations assessments, many of which are purposely buried in the small print or in the footnotes of those documents.

Obama has little use for facts or for common sense. His recent purchase of a Martha’s Vineyard beachfront manse notwithstanding, Obama anticipates an apocalypse:

But the best estimates involved a hellish combination of severe coastal flooding, drought, wild fires, and hurricanes that stood to displace millions of people and overwhelm the capacities of most governments. This in turn would increase the risk of global conflict and insect-borne disease.

“Humans have had no detectable impact on hurricanes over the past century,” writes Koonin. Then too, adds Koonin, “Since the middle of the twentieth century, the number of significant tornadoes hasn’t changed much at all, but the strongest storms have become less frequent.” For that matter, “The warmest temperatures in the U.S. have not risen in the past fifty years,”

Obama apparently has different sources, scarier ones — Greta Thunberg, maybe?

Reading the literature, I pictured caravans of lost souls wandering a cracked earth in search of arable land, regular Katrina-sized catastrophes across every continent, island nations swallowed up by the sea. I wondered what would happen to Hawaii, or the great glaciers of Alaska, or the city of New Orleans. I imagined Malia, Sasha, and my grandchildren living in a harsher, more dangerous world, stripped of many of the wondrous sights I’d taken for granted growing up.

Koonin notes that “the past fifty years have been slightly wetter than average,” at least in the United States. Worldwide, there is no denying that despite any changes in the climate — or perhaps because of those changes — “in the fifty years from 1961 to 2011, global yields of wheat, rice, and maize … each more than doubled.” Koonin concludes, “The net economic impact of human-induced climate change will be minimal through at least the end of this century.”

As Koonin told Thiessen, atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase whatever draconian solutions governments impose on their citizens, with the poor everywhere suffering most. A fan of mankind, Koonin believes that adaptation to a gradual global warming will allow us to prosper. “This is not at all an unmitigated disaster as people would have you believe,” said Koonin. “We’ll learn to take advantage of whatever changes happen rather than simply tolerate them. That’s what humans do, and we’re pretty good at it.”

Smart money has Obama and his media allies pretending that Koonin and people like him do not exist. They much prefer to scare the world’s young people into “solutions” that solve no real problem. The only real question is why.

Jack Cashill’s latest book, Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply, is now on sale. See for more information.