According to Dr. Steven Koonin, who was the chief scientist for former President Barack Obama's Energy Department, humans are "certainly influencing" the earth's climate but "the notion we've broken the climate is misplaced."
"Human influences are growing as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere grows, but beyond the warming of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century, we don't see many impacts on severe weather events," the New York University physicist told CNBC on Tuesday. "For example, heat waves are more uncommon today than they were in 1900 and they haven't gone up in 60 years."
Further, he said, there have been no "detectible human influences on hurricanes," and wildfires have declined by about 25% globally since 2003.
"Despite the terrible fires we saw in California and Australia in 2020, (that year) was one of the least active global fire years on record," said Koonin.
Koonin, a theoretical physicist who now serves as the director of NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress, has outlined his viewpoint in his new book "Unsettled." He acknowledged Tuesday that his view on the climate has changed over the past 7 years after leaving the Obama administration.
"About seven years ago, I had the opportunity to look more deeply into the science and in the intervening seven years I've come to believe that the science does not say what you think it says, to borrow a line from 'The Princess Bride,'" Koonin said.
He added that everything in his book comes from official United Nations and U.S. government assessment reports, so his reporting is from "consensus science" that has not been brought into public or political discussion.
Koonin's comments came a day after the Biden administration used its federal powers for the first time Monday to limit emissions by proposing a rule to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, the common refrigerant used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
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