Patrick Michaels

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Patrick J. Michaels
Patrick Michaels by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Michaels in 2016
Born (1950-02-15) February 15, 1950 (age 71)
Berwyn, Illinois, US
Alma materUniversity of Chicago (AB, SM)
University of Wisconsin–Madison (PhD)
Known forWork on global warming
Scientific career
FieldsClimatology, ecology
InstitutionsUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison,
University of Virginia,
Cato Institute
ThesisAtmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America (1979)
WebsitePatrick J. Michaels, Cato Institute

Patrick J. ("Pat") Michaels (born February 15, 1950) is an American former agricultural climatologist.[1][2] Michaels was a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute until Spring 2019. Until 2007, he was research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, where he had worked from 1980.[3][2][4]

He collaborated with Fred Singer to attack the scientific consensus on ozone depletion from 1991. He joined the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank founded by Charles and David Koch, and receives significant funding from the fossil fuel industry[5][6] both directly and through front groups.[7] He has described policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as "Obamunism".[1]

He is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has written a number of books and papers denying or minimizing climate change, including Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming (1992), The Satanic Gases (2000), and Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media (2004). He's also the co-author of Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know (2009).[3] Michaels' viewpoint, as argued in a 2002 article in the journal Climate Research, is that the planet will see "a warming range of 1.3–3.0°C, with a central value of 1.9°C" for the 1990 to 2100 period (a value far smaller than the IPCC's average predictions).[8]


Patrick Michaels obtained an A.B. in biological science in 1971 and an S.M. in biology in 1975 from the University of Chicago, and in 1979 he obtained his Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[9] His doctoral thesis was titled Atmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America.[10]

Ozone depletion[edit]

In 1991 and 1992, Michaels collaborated with Fred Singer in writing articles for the Washington Times rejecting the scientific consensus on ozone depletion. He advanced arguments on the subject as late as 2000.[1]

Views on climate change[edit]

Michaels has said that he does not contest the basic scientific principles behind greenhouse warming and acknowledges that the global mean temperature has increased in recent decades.[11] He is quoted as being skeptical of global warming,[12] and is described by Michael E. Mann as a "prominent climate change contrarian."[13] He contends that the changes will be minor, not catastrophic, and may even be beneficial.[14]

A 2002 article published in the journal Climate Research by Michaels and three other scholars has predicted "a warming range of 1.3–3.0°C, with a central value of 1.9°C" over the 1990 to 2100 period, although he remarked that the "temperature range and central values determined in our study may be too great." He made the argument that the climate feedback system involving current warming trends was weaker than generally asserted, coming to a conclusion that set his views apart from that of the IPCC's estimates.[8]

In 2009, Michaels authored a Cato report arguing that "Congress should pass no legislation restricting emissions of carbon dioxide, repeal current ethanol mandates, and inform the public about how little climate change would be prevented by proposed legislation."[15]

In 2018, Michaels asserted on Fox News, "probably about half, maybe half of that nine-tenths of the degree [of total warming] might be caused by greenhouse gases." Climate Feedback, a fact-checking website for media coverage on climate change, wrote of Michaels' assertion, "no evidence or research is provided to support this claim, which contradicts the published scientific literature."[16]


Expert witness for Western Fuels Association[edit]

In May 1994 Richard Lindzen, Michaels, and Robert Balling served as expert witnesses on behalf of Western Fuels Association in St. Paul, Minnesota to determine the environmental cost of coal burning by state power plants.[17] Western Fuels Association is a consortium of coal producers that uses collective advocacy to represent industry interests.[18]

World Climate Report, Greening Earth Society, and Western Fuels Association[edit]

The World Climate Report, a newsletter edited by Michaels was first published by the Greening Earth Society. The society was a public relations organization associated with the Western Fuels Association (WFA), an association of coal-burning utility companies.[19][20][21] It has been called a "front group created by the coal industry"[22] and an "industry front".[23] Fred Palmer, a society staffer, is a registered lobbyist for Peabody Energy, a coal company.[24] WFA founded the group in 1997, according to an archived version of its website, "as a vehicle for advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use."[25]

2003 John Holdren[edit]

Office of Science and Technology Policy director, John Holdren,[26] told the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee in June 2003, "Michaels is another of the handful of U.S. climate-change contrarians … He has published little if anything of distinction in the professional literature, being noted rather for his shrill op-ed pieces and indiscriminate denunciations of virtually every finding of mainstream climate science."[27] In 2009 Michaels responded in a Washington Examiner Op-Ed, saying that the IPCC had subverted the peer review process, and adding the IPCC had "left out plenty of peer-reviewed science that it found inconveniently disagreeable."[28]

International Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group in 2007[edit]

Michaels was one of hundreds of US reviewers composing the International Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group in 2007.

Although the Greening Earth Society was generally skeptical of the impact of climate change, it acknowledged some degree of global warming as real: "Fact #1. The rate of global warming during the past several decades has been about 0.18°C per decade".[29] Note that the actual increase in the global surface temperature during the 100 years ending in 2005 was 0.74 ± 0.18 °C.[30]

Climate scientist Tom Wigley,[31] a lead author of parts of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has stated that "Michaels' statements on the subject of computer models are a catalog of misrepresentation and misinterpretation … Many of the supposedly factual statements made in Michaels' testimony are either inaccurate or are seriously misleading."[32]

Funding from energy or fossil fuel companies[edit]

In 2006, a Colorado energy cooperative, the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, had given Michaels $100,000.[33] An Associated Press report said that the donations had been made after Michaels had "told Western business leaders ... that he was running out of money for his analyses of other scientists' global warming research" and noted that the cooperative had a vested interest in opposing mandatory carbon dioxide caps, a situation that raised conflict of interest concerns.[34]

Michaels said on CNN that 40 percent of his funding came from the oil industry.[35] According to Fred Pearce, fossil fuel companies have helped fund Michaels' projects, including his World Climate Report, published every year since 1994, and his "advocacy science consulting firm", New Hope Environmental Services.[36]

A 2005 article published by the Seattle Times reported that Michaels had received more than $165,000 in fuel-industry funding, including money from the coal industry to publish his own climate journal.[12]

Selected publications[edit]

Michaels is the author of several books including: Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming (1992), Satanic Gases (2002; as coauthor), Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media (2004), published by the Cato Institute, and Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming (2005; as editor and coauthor).

His writing has been published in major scientific journals, including Climate Research, Climatic Change, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Climate, Nature, and Science, as well as in popular serials such as the Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, and Journal of Commerce.[3] He was an author of the climate "paper of the year" awarded by the Association of American Geographers in 2004.[3]

Science papers and technical comments[edit]

  • Michaels, P.J.; Singer, S.F.; Knappenberger, P.C.; Kerr, J.B.; McElroy, C.T. (1994). "Analyzing ultraviolet-B radiation—is there a trend?". Science. 264 (5163): 1341–1343. Bibcode:1994Sci...264.1341M. doi:10.1126/science.264.5163.1341. PMID 17780851.
  • Michaels, Patrick J.; Knappenberger, Paul C. (1996). "Human effect on global climate?". Nature. 384 (6609): 522–523. Bibcode:1996Natur.384..522M. doi:10.1038/384522b0. S2CID 4350099.
  • Michaels, Patrick J.; Balling Jr., Robert C.; Knappenberger, Paul C.; Knappenberger, PC (1998). "Analysis of trends in the variability of daily and monthly historical temperature measurements" (PDF). Climate Research. 10: 27–33. doi:10.3354/cr010027. ISSN 0936-577X.
  • "Revised 21st century temperature projections", Patrick J. Michaels, Paul C. Knappenberger, Oliver W. Frauenfeld and Robert E. Davis, Climate Research, Vol. 23: 1–9, 2002.
  • Davis, Robert E.; Knappenberger, Paul C.; Novicoff, Wendy M.; Michaels, Patrick J. (2002). "Decadal changes in heat-related human mortality in the eastern United States" (PDF). Climate Research. 22: 175–184. Bibcode:2002ClRes..22..175D. doi:10.3354/cr022175. ISSN 0936-577X.
  • Davies, R.E.; Knappenberger, P.C.; Michaels, P.J.; Novicoff, W.M. (2003). "Changing heat-related mortality in the United States". Environmental Health Perspectives. 111 (14): 1712–8. doi:10.1289/ehp.6336. PMC 1241712. PMID 14594620.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Oreskes, Naomi. (2010). Merchants of doubt : how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming (1st U.S. ed.). New York: Bloomsbury Press. ISBN 978-1-59691-610-4. OCLC 461631066.
  2. ^ a b Gibson, Bob (September 25, 2007). "Former climatologist will pursue research work". Charlottesville Daily Progress. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d "Patrick J. Michaels," Cato Institute, accessed August 3, 2010; for his self-described skepticism, see Michaels, Patrick. "Holes in the Greenhouse Effect?", Cato Institute, accessed August 3, 2010.
  4. ^ Waldman, Scott (May 29, 2019). "POLITICS: Cato closes its climate shop; Pat Michaels is out". E&E News. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  5. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne; correspondent, US environment (2011-01-25). "Climate sceptic 'misled Congress over funding from oil industry'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  6. ^ Climatewire, Evan Lehmann. "Who Funds Contrariness on Climate Change?". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ Dunlap, Riley E.; Jacques, Peter J. (June 2013). "Climate Change Denial Books and Conservative Think Tanks". The American Behavioral Scientist. 57 (6): 699–731. doi:10.1177/0002764213477096. ISSN 0002-7642. PMC 3787818. PMID 24098056., "Although the contrarians portray themselves as a minority of truth seekers battling the large “climate establishment,” some of them have worked directly for the incredibly wealthy fossil fuels industry (including "front groups" it has set up, like the [Global Climate Coalition]) or well-funded [conservative think-tank]s. Patrick Michaels and Fred Singer are particularly notable in this regard", citing Hoggan, James, 1946- (2009). Climate cover-up : the crusade to deny global warming. Vancouver: Greystone Books. ISBN 978-1-926706-77-1. OCLC 688505738.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link), Powell, James Lawrence, 1936- (2011). The inquisition of climate science. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-52784-2. OCLC 752263463.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ a b "Revised 21st century temperature projections", Patrick J. Michaels, Paul C. Knappenberger, Oliver W. Frauenfeld and Robert E. Davis, Climate Research, Vol. 23: 1–9, 2002.
  9. ^ "C.V. Patrick J. Michaels" (PDF). United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce. February 12, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 3, 2011.
  10. ^ Michaels, Patrick J. (1979). "Atmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America". University of Wisconsin–Madison. OCLC 6464506. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Michaels, Patrick (1 February 2007). "Live with climate change". USA Today. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  12. ^ a b Doughton, Sandi (11 October 2005). "The truth about global warming". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on April 25, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-04. one of the most widely quoted global-warming skeptics
  13. ^ Michael E. Mann (1 October 2013). The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. Columbia University Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-231-15255-6.
  14. ^ Michaels, Patrick; Paul C. Knappenberger; Robert E. Davis (Fall 2000). "The Way of Warming" (PDF). 23 (3). Regulation. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-15. Retrieved 2007-03-14. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Michaels, Patrick (2009). "CATO Handbook for Policy Makers" (PDF). CATO Institute.
  16. ^ "On Fox News, Patrick Michaels falsely claims humans are only responsible for half of global warming". Climate Feedback. 2019-07-09. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  17. ^ Gelbspan, Ross (December 1995). "The Heat is On:The warming of the world's climate sparks a blaze of denial". Harper's Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  18. ^ "What we do". Western Fuels Association.
  19. ^ "Scientific Advisers". Archived from the original on December 5, 1998. Retrieved 2019-05-30.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link), Greening Earth Society, website archived from December 1998.
  20. ^ "Scientific Advisers". Archived from the original on September 25, 2001. Retrieved 2019-05-30.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link), Greening Earth Society, website archived from September 2001.
  21. ^ Norr, Henry (August 14, 2000). "Energy Debate Heats Up". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  22. ^ Stauber, John (August 9, 2001). "Coal Industry Front Group Spouts Hot Air". PR Watch. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  23. ^ Appell, David (July 2, 2001). " Books | "It Ain't Necessarily So" by David Murray, et al". Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  24. ^ U.S. Lobby Registration and Disclosure Page
  25. ^ "Join GES". Archived from the original on March 8, 2005. Retrieved 2005-03-08.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), Greening Earth Society website, archived from March 2005.
  26. ^ "John Holdren's bio and publications at Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs". Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  27. ^ John P. Holdren (June 9, 2003). "Comments by John P. Holdren on "The Shaky Science Behind the Climate Change Sense of the Congress Resolution" – US Senate Republican Policy Committee" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  28. ^ "Patrick Michaels: Climate scientists subverted peer review". December 2, 2009. Archived from the original on May 21, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  29. ^ "Greening Earth Society". Archived from the original on March 15, 2005. Retrieved March 15, 2005.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  30. ^ "Summary for Policymakers" (PDF). Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-02-02. The updated hundred-year linear trend (1906 to 2005) of 0.74 °C [0.56 °C to 0.92 °C] is therefore larger than the corresponding trend for 1901 to 2000 given in the TAR of 0.6 °C [0.4 °C to 0.8 °C].
  31. ^ "Leading Climate Scientists Reaffirm View that Late 20th Century Warming Was Unusual and Resulted From Human Activity" (Press release). American Geophysical Union. 7 July 2003. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
  32. ^ Gelbspan, Ross (August 1997). The Heat is On. Perseus Books. ISBN 0-201-13295-8.
  33. ^ Sandell, Clayton; Bill Blakemore (July 27, 2006). "ABC News Reporting Cited As Evidence In Congressional Hearing On Global Warming". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-03-14.
  34. ^ Borenstein, Seth (26 July 2006). "Utilities Give Warming Skeptic Big Bucks". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  35. ^ "Interview with Fareed Zakaria, Gavin Schmidt, Jeffrey Sachs and Patrick Michaels". CNN. 15 August 2010.
  36. ^ Pearce, Fred (2010). The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth about Global Warming. Guardian Books. ISBN 978-0-85265-229-9. p. X.

External links[edit]