The Union of Concerned Scientists tries to “cancel” Steve Koonin – Watts Up With That?

The Union of Concerned Scientists tries to “cancel” Steve Koonin – Watts Up With That?


By Andy May

I’ve written about the far left-wing Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and their anti-democratic attempts to suppress free-speech and free-thought before (see here). There are more details about their chicanery in my latest book: Politics and Climate Science: A History. ExxonMobil totally humiliated them and their gang when they tried to accuse the company of suppressing or hiding “evidence” that global warming was dangerous. The gang included Naomi Oreskes, who tried to convince a judge, through a “content analysis,” that ExxonMobil said one thing publicly and another privately regarding the supposed dangers of climate change. Too bad her analysis was ripped to shreds by the original content analysis expert Kimberly Neuendorf in court, who wrote:

“[Oreskes’ analysis] does not support the study’s conclusions because of a variety of fundamental errors in their analysis. S&O’s content analysis lacks reliability, validity, objectivity, generalizability, and replicability. ” (May, 2020c, p. 169).

Peter Frumhoff, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, was one of the principal organizers of the ExxonKnew campaign and even paid the travel expenses of the state Attorneys General attending the various campaign meetings and announcements. They have been up to their eyeballs in these anti-free-speech campaigns ever since. They are not nice people.

Now, they are giving voice to Benjamin Santer, the “fingerprint” guy, widely criticized for his last-minute changes to Chapter 8 of the second IPCC report (SAR) in 1995. He and John Houghton forced a last-minute change to the conclusions of Chapter 8 after the chapter team had approved the conclusion that “no study to date has both detected a significant climate change and positively attributed all or part of that change to anthropogenic causes.” Under political pressure, likely from Vice-President Al Gore, they reversed the scientific finding and changed the conclusion to:

“The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” (IPCC, 1996, p. 4)

This political change to a scientific document led to an enormous uproar in the scientific community and forever stained the IPCC’s reputation for scientific integrity. You can read more about this shameful incident here.

Now Santer is after Koonin’s book in a UCS web site blog post entitled: “Climate Denialism Has No Place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.” You can read it in full here. You may remember that Santer participated in Koonin’s APS workshop on climate change, which I wrote about here. In that workshop, I thought Santer did a good job of defending his position. Clearly, he and Koonin do not agree on the climate change issues, but both comported themselves well in that meeting and discussed the issues as professionals.

Santer has changed though. His essay on the UCS web site is not professional. For some reason he seems to think that because Koonin does not adopt the title of “climate scientist,” he is not allowed to study and speak out on the subject. We will remember that Koonin has written over 250 peer-reviewed articles that have received over 14,000 citations according to Google Scholar. He was also a Department of Energy science advisor in the Obama Administration. Are the small group of self-appointed “climate scientists,” the only anointed ones allowed to speak about climate? How does one enter this esteemed priesthood? Reading Santer’s essay one would think they are appointed by God.

Like most of those in the “cancel culture,” Santer says “Free speech is important,” but the text of his post suggests only his small community is allowed free speech regarding climate science. He seems determined to deny it to Koonin. Sorry Benjamin, free speech only works when everyone has it.

IPCC. (1996). SAR, Climate Change 1995, The Science of Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/ipcc_sar_wg_I_full_report.pdf

May, A. (2020c). Politics and Climate Change: A History. Springfield, Missouri: American Freedom Publications. link

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