Union of Involved Scientists Tries To “Cancel” Steve Koonin – Watts Up With That?

By Andy May

I have already written about the far-right Union of Affected Scientists (UCS) and their anti-democratic attempts to suppress freedom of speech and thought (see here). For more details on their chicane, see my latest book: Politics and Climate Science: A Story. ExxonMobil totally humiliated you and your gang when they tried to accuse the company of suppressing or hiding “evidence” that global warming is dangerous. One of the gang was Naomi Oreskes, who tried to use “content analysis” to convince a judge that ExxonMobil was saying something, publicly and privately, about the alleged dangers of climate change. Too bad her analysis was torn to pieces in court by the original content analysis expert Kimberly Neuendorf, who wrote:

“[Oreskes’ analysis] does not endorse the study’s conclusions due to a number of fundamental errors in its analysis. S & O’s content analysis lacks reliability, validity, objectivity, generalizability and reproducibility. ”(May 2020c, p. 169).

Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists was one of the main organizers of the ExxonKnew campaign and even paid the travel expenses of the attorneys general who attended the various campaign meetings and announcements. They’ve been up to date on these anti-free speech campaigns ever since. They’re not nice people.

Now they are giving a voice to Benjamin Santer, the “fingerprint” type, who has been widely criticized for his last-minute changes to Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s Second Report (SAR) in 1995, conclusions from Chapter 8, after the chapter team adopted the conclusion had approved that “so far no study has found a significant climate change and this change has been wholly or partially positively attributed to anthropogenic causes”. Under political pressure, likely from Vice President Al Gore, they reversed the scientific evidence and changed the conclusion to:

“The balanced evidence suggests a recognizable human impact on global climate.” (IPCC, 1996, p. 4)

This political change to a scientific document created a tremendous turmoil in the scientific community and forever undermined the IPCC’s reputation for scientific integrity. You can read more about this shameful incident here.

Now Santer is behind Koonin’s book in a blog post on the UCS website entitled “Climate Denialism Has No Place in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.” You can read it in full here. You may recall that Santer attended Koonin’s APS workshop on climate change that I wrote about here. In this workshop I thought Santer defended his position well. Obviously, he and Koonin disagree on climate change issues, but both behaved well at this meeting and discussed the issues as experts.

Santer has changed, however. His essay on the UCS website is not professional. For some reason, he seems to believe that because Koonin does not accept the title of “climate scientist” he is not allowed to study and speak on the subject. We’ll recall that Koonin wrote over 250 peer-reviewed articles which, according to Google Scholar, received over 14,000 citations. He was also a science advisor to the Department of Energy in the Obama administration. Can the small group of self-proclaimed “climate researchers”, the only anointed ones, speak about the climate? How do you enter this cherished priesthood? If you read Santer’s essay you would think that they were appointed by God.

Like most in the “cancellation culture”, Santer says “freedom of speech is important” but the text of his post suggests that only his small community is allowed free speech on climate science. He seems determined to deny Koonin. Sorry Benjamin, freedom of 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 Story. Springfield, Missouri: American Freedom Publications. shortcut


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