“Climate change poses an existential threat to our lives, to our economy and the threat is here,” said President Joe Biden on Tuesday of last week. “It’s not going to get any better…” The president was talking about the floods caused by Hurricane Ida. Our President believes climate change causes a need for increased investments for infrastructure and of course to fight global warming.
But is this issue settled?
A new book by Dr. Steven Koonin, entitled “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters,” is worth a read. Koonin is a former Under Secretary for Science in the Energy Department during the Obama Administration. He is very concerned about floods, droughts, and fires. He says on page 147 of his new book these incidents “…does not make them further proof of climate change. In the end, the data tells us there’s not very much changing very quickly with precipitation, either globally or in the U.S. And the uncertain models suggest that humanity’s long frustration with precipitation’s unpredictability isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
In essence, what Dr. Koonin is saying is President Biden does not know what he is talking about and is only using the floods for political advantage. This book agrees with the premise that the climate is getting warmer. That is a fact. He also points out in Chapter seven that climate is a statistical concept which takes place over decades. He asks the specific question, “Are floods becoming more or less frequent?” Professor Koonin, who is also a PhD from MIT, has more than 200 peer-reviewed papers. He is currently an independent governor at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and has also worked at Los Alamos and Argonne National Laboratory.
As to flooding, Professor Koonin points out that “Annual precipitation in the U.S. has gone up 0.6 percent per decade since the start of the twentieth century…” He does point out the U.S. precipitation has become “lumpier” in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest. The professor indicates that snow cover is becoming less but he attributes that factor to dust and soot in the air.
President Biden, of course, associates the floods and droughts with climate change. Professor Koonin on page 137 of his book says, “The modest changes in U.S. rainfall during the past century haven’t changed the average incidence of floods.” He also points out, regarding floods globally, that we “don’t know” if the floods are increasing, decreasing, or doing nothing at all.
The professor also has data regarding river flooding. He has an interesting chart on p. 137 entitled “Change in the Magnitude of River Flooding in the United States (1965-2015)”. This map, you will see, talks about significant decrease in flooding and significant increase in flooding. Most of the country is experiencing decreases in flooding; however, there does seem to be a significant increase in flooding in the Northeast.
Professor Koonin attacks the U.S. government for misleading all of you regarding climate change. The professor claims, “Reading of the most assessment reports also reveals some elementary failures that mislead or misinform readers on important points.” He then attacks the media for promulgating these stories and the fact the media does nothing to correct the true science story.
I seldom recommend a book for the readers’ consideration, but I certainly recommend all of you read Dr. Koonin’s book “Unsettled.” Most of you who read this blog have questions about climate change.
“Unsettled” will provide you with arguments which support your suspicions that the President and his acolytes are using climate change as a political lever.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.