Scientific American Denies Steve Koonin Chance To Respond To Attack Article By Oreskes et al.

Steve Koonin responds to recent attack articles by alarmist global-warming researchers.

Steve Koonin, former scientist advisor to President Barack Obama, was recently attacked in Scientific American for speaking out his skepticim over manmade global warming. He asked SA for the chance to respond, but SA refused, though a response is customary in science. Photo: US Dept. of Energy. 

So Steve Koonin has asked climate realist outlets, such as NTZ, to publish his response after Scientific American refused to do so:


Koonin responds to a Scientific American article by Oreskes et al.

Scientific American has published a criticism of me and my recent book, Unsettled. Most of that article’s 1,000 words are scurrilous ad hominem and guilt-by-association aspersions from the twelve co-authors. Only three scientific criticisms are buried within their spluttering; here is my response to each them.

The first criticism concerns rising temperatures:

A recent Washington Post column by conservative contributor Marc Thiessen repeats several points Koonin makes. The first is citing the 2017 National Climate Assessment to downplay rising temperatures—but the report’s very first key finding on the topic says temperatures have risen, rapidly since 1979, and are the warmest in 1,500 years.

In fact, Unsettled explicitly acknowledges a warming globe, but also the problems in comparing instrumental and proxy temperatures that weaken confidence in the “warmest in 1,500 years”. The book’s Chapter 5 criticizes in detail the 2017 report’s misleading and inaccurate representation of a different temperature metric, US extreme temperatures. To the surprise of many, the country’s warmest temperatures have not increased since 1960 and are no higher in recent years than they were in 1900.

The authors go on to offer:

The second is Thiessen quoting Koonin’s use of an outdated 2014 assessment on hurricanes to downplay climate concerns. But the newer 2017 report finds that human activity has “contributed to the observed upward trend in North Atlantic hurricane activity since the 1970s.”

In fact, Unsettled’s Chapter 6 discusses the description of hurricanes in the 2014 report, in the 2017 report, and in more recent research papers through 2020, including an authoritative 2019 assessment by eleven hurricane experts. None of those studies claim any detectable human influences on hurricanes.

Finally, we’re given:

A third point downplays sea level rise by portraying it as steady over time, cherry-picking reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the rate of sea-level rise has quadrupled since
the industrial revolution, as climate scientists pointed out years ago when Koonin made this same argument.

In no sense does Unsettled portray sea level rise as “steady over time”. Rather, the book’s Chapter 8 does quite the opposite, describing the full decadal variability as portrayed in the IPCC reports and subsequent research literature, but somehow omitted in the 2017 National Climate Assessment. The IPCC statement that rates of rise between 1920 and 1950 were likely similar to those of recent decades complicates attribution of recent trends.

It is telling that these three criticisms cite Thiessen’s column rather than what I’ve written in Unsettled. That they are readily countered suggests the authors haven’t read the book or, if they have, they aren’t acting in good faith. That’s precisely the same unprofessional behavior found in the easily rebutted “fact check” of, again, a review of Unsettled, not the book itself.

To paraphrase a statement attributed to Einstein, “If I were wrong, it wouldn’t take a dozen scientists to disprove me – one would be sufficient.” As I write in Unsettled, I welcome serious, informed discussion of any of the points I raise in the book. Unfortunately, the article by Oreskes et al. falls well short of that standard.


As they say in German, Je mehr Feinde, desto mehr Ehre (The more the enemies, the more the honor).

11 responses to “Scientific American Denies Steve Koonin Chance To Respond To Attack Article By Oreskes et al.”

  1. ledag

    Sadly, Scientific American is a publication that has become less scientific and more driven by politics in recent years.
    Even more sadly, it is not the only publication of its kind that’s gone this way. Science is being corrupted and attacked from different directions.
    But this trend only makes new and independent media more important for science as well as for the public.

    1. Felix

      I gave up on SciAm way back in the 1970s, I think, when the social commentary article claimed that communist capitals were better cities than capitalist capitals. Their prime exhibit was the two Koreas. Their picture of Pyongyang was dismal, grey, empty streets, and the Seoul picture was full of color and people. There was also some weird claim that capitalist cities concentrated so much sewage in one place which was bad, bad, bad, when you’d think it would be a lot easier to manage that way.

      I had to read it several times to believe it was a serious article, and I haven’t bought a single issue since.

      It’s been a long time. I’ve probably got some of the details wrong.

  2. John Hultquist

    though a response is customary in science . . .

    SiAm is neither science nor American.
    Once in awhile there was a good article even a few years back.
    I dropped the subscription as those got fewer.

    There is no climate crisis.
    Focus should be on real problems.
    Electrical power should be available to all 24/7.
    That would be a start.
    Clean water? Medical care?
    Wind turbines replacing nuclear! Nuts!

    1. Jim Hunt

      “Though a response is customary in science”

      I couldn’t agree more John! However I’m afraid I don’t agree with your “There is no climate crisis.”

      Where do you suggest I outline my response?


  3. Aussie

    The Scientific American has joined the New Scientist in becoming non scientific politically motivated and opinion based publications.

    I rarely read them anymore whereas I was a subscriber to New Scientist and regularly read the Scientific American. Whenever I occasionally come across a copy I stand by my original decision. The articles I see on “climate change” are inaccurate and easily refuted, and I am bothered how the publishers would consider these even worthy of inclusion as they are so infantile and baseless.

    But welcome to the new world where the scientific method is no longer used and “consensus of science” is the new buzzword. Any study of history shows, sadly, that those heroes who have defied consensus have normally been totally correct (Galileo and Einstein etc) and the idiotic clingers to consensus utterly wrong – such is the case now on so many fronts…

    1. Shoki Kaneda

      You are correct. In fact, one does not need to be a scientist when 1000-2000 year old forests and mines are found under existing glaciers. Clearly, it was warmer then and for an extended period. Empirical evidence and historical records trump fanciful computer models, every time.

    2. The Indomitable Snowman, Ph.D.

      “Scientific” (sic) “American” (sic) actually went into the dumper at least as far back as the 1980s. Back in my students days back then, they published an idiotic and counter-factual article (so not a new trend there!); someone I knew at the time who knew quite a bit about the topic wrote a Letter to the Editor detailing all the things that they got wrong, complete with literature citations. S.A. published it under his name – but heavily-altered the entire text from what he had originally written, to make it sound like it came from a redneck. They of course didn’t indicate what their edits were, but they totally changed what he wrote.

      For decades, S.A. has been more like the Nazi S.A. than a real publication.

  4. James H. Shanley

    The global warming scientist worry about a slight rise in sea level but they do not seem to understand that when we had glacial maximum the ocean was about 400 ft lower than present. All that water was evaporated from the ocean. It would have taken a lot of heat. So now they have a problem; heat caused the ice caps and now heat is going to take them away. I wonder haw long it will take the global warming scientists to explain that one?

  5. James H. Shanley

    Scientific American has a split personality. A few months ago they published an article on the covid-19 virus. It was obvious that it was done by a professional.
    It gave details on the RNA which was twice as long as other virisus. It appeared to me that it may have been made in a lab. Then a month or 2 later they published what appeared to be the CCP version.

  6. Scientific American verweigert Steve Koonin eine Stellungnahme zu einem üblen Angriff von Oreskes et al. gegen ihn | EIKE - Europäisches Institut für Klima & Energie
  7. Scientific American verweigert Steve Koonin eine Stellungnahme zu einem üblen Angriff von Oreskes et al. gegen ihn – Aktuelle Nachrichten

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