Path to Zero
Path to Zero
5.10 - A Closer Look at Climate Data with Theoretical Physicist Dr. Steven Koonin

In this episode recorded from Climate Week in New York City, Tucker talks climate science with Dr. Steven E. Koonin, Professor at NYU and former Undersecretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy in the Obama administration. Dr. Koonin’s book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t and Why It Matters,” has been the topic of significant debate.

In the book, Dr. Koonin acknowledges that the climate is warming and humans are partially responsible for this warming. However, he contends that the evidence has been overstated in the media and we are not facing a climate emergency. He was Founding Director of NYU’s new Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Koonin was BP’s Chief Scientist, where he was a strong advocate for research into renewable energies and alternate fuel sources. He holds a B.S. in Physics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from MIT.

Some highlights of what Tucker and Dr. Koonin discuss in this episode:

  • His background and interest since childhood in physics.
  • His growing realization in the 1990s that humans can influence the climate with greenhouse gas emissions and how he started getting interested in climate science.
  • How Dr. Koonin started to realize that the public discussion on climate science was actually quite disconnected from what the science actually says.
  • Dr. Koonin cites U.S government data, including that heat waves are no more common today than they were in 1900.
  • His conclusion that scientific reports give scant support for the notion that we are facing a catastrophe.
  • The challenge of the 6.5 billion people in the developing world not having access to energy.
  • Why technology development and demonstration will be the lever to reduce global emissions.
  • Dr. Koonin’s response to critics of his book who say that climate science is stronger than ever.