Denial Scientists - Patrick Michaels
Patrick Michaels (pictured) is one of the best known of the global warming denying scientists. He is generally described in the media as being from the University of Virginia without any reference to the corporate funding he receives (see below).
New Scientist in July 1997 as “a climatologist at the University of Virginia” and one of the “world’s top scientists”. His criticisms of global warming models were cited in the article, but without any mention of his funding sources. He in turn cited the New Scientist article as supporting his views without mentioning the article was based on an interview with him.
Michaels told an Australian business audience in 1997 that global warming would lead to milder winters, longer agricultural seasons in cold climates and little extra heat in warmer climates. He was referred to in the Sydney Morning Herald as “a leading American climatologist” from the University of Virginia. The paper quoted him as saying: “You’d have a very hard time saying it [global warming] was a net negative .... I find it very hard to believe that the folks in the Pacific Islands won’t adapt to a 30 centimetres sea level rise.”
Michaels claimed in 2000 that despite three decades of global warming the world was in fact better off:
In those last three decades, world production of wheat, corn, and soybeans combined rose from around 1800 kilograms/hectare to around 3200, or 78 percent, while population rose 50 percent. In short, we now produce considerably more food per living person than we did back then. Life expectancy in the United States rose about seven years, or one-tenth of a lifetime. (Don’t even ask about your 401(k) account, just let it grow.)
Those are the unvarnished truths about the human condition vis-à-vis global warming.
His articles and books have titles such as:
- "Long Hot Year: Latest Science Debunks Global Warming Hysteria"
- "Is the Sky Really Falling? A Review of Recent Global Warming Scare Stories"
- "Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know"
- "Meltdown: the predictable distortion of global warming by scientists"
Michaels has been associated with several front groups (see diagram). He was on the advisory boards of the Greening Earth Society (a front group for Western Fuels Association, an association of electricity utilities with coal-fired power stations), The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC), the Information Council on the Environment and is currently on the advisory board of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which co-organised a climate denial conference in Copenhagen to coincide with the 2009 meeting of government leaders on climate change.
Michaels is also associated with corporate-funded think tanks. He is Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute and a visiting scientist with the George C. Marshall Institute (see table below and diagram). The Cato Institute paid his firm $242,900 for environmental policy services in 2006 and 2007, which Michaels claims was for research for his book Climate of Extremes, which Cato published in 2009. It also paid him $98,000 for writing, with Robert Balling, The Satanic Gases published in 2000.
|Affiliation With ExxonMobil-Funded Organizations||Title/Role|
|American Council on Science and Health||Scientific Advisor|
|American Legislative Exchange Council||Report Author|
|Cato Institute||Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies|
|Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow||Scientific Advisory Board Member|
|Competitive Enterprise Institute||CEI expert|
|Consumer Alert||Advisory Council Member|
|George C. Marshall Institute||Book Editor and Contributor|
|Heritage Foundation||Policy Expert|
|Tech Central Station||Science Roundtable member|
|Weidenbaum Center||Study Author|
Michaels is also quoted, cited and invited to speak to numerous business and industry groups, front groups and think tanks (see here). He writes numerous newspaper opinion pieces.
Michaels has received funding for his research from the Western Fuels Association, the Cyprus Minerals Company, the Edison Electric Institute and the German Coal Mining Association. His financial support is listed here. After he founded his 'science advocacy' firm New Hope Environmental Services in 1994, corporate money could be paid to him for consultancy services and was he was able to keep his list of clients and therefore his private.
However in 2006 it was revealed that Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) in Colorado, a cooperative owning coal-fired power stations, had paid Michaels $100,000 as part of their campaign to dispute climate change science. A leaked memo from its General Manager stated:
Dr. Michaels has been supported by electric cooperatives in the past and also receives financial support from other sources... In February of this year, IREA alone contributed $100,000 to Dr. Michaels. In addition, we have contacted all the G & T's [Generation and Transmission companies] in the United States and as of writing this letter, we have obtained additional contributions and pledges for Dr. Michaels group.
The cost of this contribution would have been passed on to 133,000 ratepayers without their knowledge of how it had been spent had it not been for the leak by ABC News. The leak was followed by a public campaign to change IREA's board of directors.
Another indication of the corporate funding Michaels firm receives occurred when Michaels was due to testify as an expert witness in court on behalf of a number of automobile companies. When Greenpeace sought to force Michaels to reveal New Hope's list of clients as part of the discovery process for the trial, Michaels withdrew from the case (and his fee) rather than disclose them. He explained in an affidavit that his clients were likely to pull their funding from New Hope if it became public because of the adverse publicity that they would attract. The firm had already lost $50,000 of support from Tri-State Generation & Transmission Asociation after it had been made public in 2006.
Large companies are understandably adverse to negative publicity. Thus, the global warming controversy has created an environment in which companies who wish to support New Hope's research and advocacy about global warming science are increasingly willing to do so only if their support remains confidential. For this reason, some companies that support New Hope financially do so on the understanding that their support will not be made public.
Michaels is editor of the World Climate Report, a journal devoted to denying climate change science which was originally funded by Western Fuels Association (a consortium of coal interests) and associated companies. It is now published by his firm New Hope Environmental Services.
- 'Patrick J. Michaels', SourceWatch
- 'FACTSHEET: Patrick J. Michaels', ExxonSecrets
- 'Deniers: Patrick Michaels', ExxonSecrets
- 'Patrick Michaels', Wikipedia
- 'Pat Michaels: scientist, energy industry lackey, Washington Post contributor', MediaMatters