Steven Koonin & Unsettled: Cooking oil

Koonin who was chief scientist for BP, barely touches the elephant in the room (significant global oil depletion) in his anti-climate science diatribe “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What It Doesn’t, and Why It Matters“. Checking Google Books for references to oil, it started out promising, thinking he would discuss why renewable energy was important, independent of any climate change considerations:

Page 3

Instead he discusses cooking oil, spread over several pages, in reference to a Richard Feynman parable on deceptive advertising.

Page 7
Page 10
Page 24

On page 33, a mention of crude (not cooking) oil, although the context is missing, perhaps referring to methane concentrations?

Page 33

But then back to cooking oil! Twice!

Page 119
Page 172

After 200 some pages, a few factual statements on supply and demand for fossil fuels and the difficulty of carbon capture.

Page 227
Page 243

That’s it. The book’s index only points to page 243 relevant to oil, which is consistent with Google Book’s search.


The book is a smokescreen, with the intention of smearing climate science so as to avoid discussing the obvious No Regrets strategy for addressing rapidly declining oil reserves. No discussion of this on Rogan’s podcast with Koonin either. Oil companies do not want this discussed so they can continue to squeeze investment $$$ to find the meager and scant remaining reserves.

Koonin’s book is a bait and switch, which is to put the emphasis on the least existential crisis. Today we are globally using over 35 billion barrels of oil per year, but discovering less than 5 billion per year. That’s equivalent to having an annual income of $5,000 while spending as if you earn $35,000 — not close to sustainable after the savings you have runs out.

Moonfall and glacially slow geophysics advances

This blog is late to the game in commenting on the physics of the Hollywood film Moonfall — but does that really matter? Geophysics research and glacially slow progress seem synonymous at this point. In social media, unless one jumps on the event of the day within an hour, it’s considered forgotten. However, difficult problems aren’t unraveled quickly, and that’s what he have when we consider the Moon’s influence on the Earth’s geophysics. Yes, tides are easy to understand, but any other impact of the Moon is considered warily, perhaps over the course of decades, not as part of the daily news & entertainment cycle.

what if the Moon was closer?

My premise: The movie Moonfall is a more pure climate-science-fiction film than Don’t Look Up. Discuss.

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The Tragedy of QBO

Trying to understand QBO may lead to madness, if the plights of Richard Lindzen (Macbeth) and Timothy Dunkerton (Hamlet) are any indication. It was first Lindzen — the primary theorist behind QBO — in his quest for scientific notoriety that led to lofty pretentiousness and eventually bad blood with his colleagues. Now it’s the Lindzen-acolyte Dunketon’s turn, avenging his “uncle” with troubling behavior

The behavior of QBO is yet to be explained, but it may be simpler than imagined by Lindzen and Dunkerton