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 69)
ResidenceUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Chicago,
University of Wisconsin–Madison
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 climatologist. 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.[2][3][4]

A self-described skeptic on the issue of global warming, he is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists. He has written a number of books and papers on 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).[2] 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).[5]


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 obtained his Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[6] His doctoral thesis was titled Atmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America.[7]

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.[8] He is quoted as being skeptical of global warming,[citation needed][9] and is described by Michael E. Mann as a "prominent climate change contrarian."[10] He contends that the changes will be minor, not catastrophic, and may even be beneficial.[11]

He has written extensive editorials on this topic for the mass media, and for think tanks and their publications such as Regulation. He stated in 2000:[11]

[S]cientists know quite precisely how much the planet will warm in the foreseeable future, a modest three-quarters of a degree (C) [in 50 years]

All this has to do with basic physics, which isn't real hard to understand. It has been known since 1872 that as we emit more and more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, each increment results in less and less warming. In other words, the first changes produce the most warming, and subsequent ones produce a bit less, and so on. But we also assume carbon dioxide continues to go into the atmosphere at an ever-increasing rate. In other words, the increase from year-to-year isn't constant, but itself is increasing. The effect of increasing the rate of carbon dioxide emissions, coupled with the fact that more and more carbon dioxide produces less and less warming compels our climate projections for the future warming to be pretty much a straight line. Translation: Once human beings start to warm the climate, they do so at a constant rate.[12]

Michaels has stated in the Wall Street Journal:

Why is the news on global warming always bad? Perhaps because there's little incentive to look at things the other way. If you do, you're liable to be pilloried by your colleagues. If global warming isn't such a threat, who needs all that funding?[13]

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.[5]

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." [14]

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."[15]


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.[16] Western Fuels Association is a consortium of coal producers that uses collective advocacy to represent industry interests.[17]

1998: Michaels and Balling complaint against Star Tribune upheld[edit]

In May 1997 Ross Gelbspan made a presentation in Minneapolis discussing his concerns, documented in his 1997 book The Heat is On, that some climatologists were involved in a "disinformation campaign" to counter the scientific consensus on global warming. The Minnesota Star Tribune ran an editorial praising this as a public service exposing undue credit given to the "unsubsantiated opinions" of a handful of contrarian scientists, and naming Michaels and his colleague Robert Balling as skeptics whose views had been examined and dismissed by numerous other scientists. Michaels and Balling took a complaint against the Star Tribune to the Minnesota News Council, and at a hearing in April 1998 by a 9–4 decision the council "voted to sustain the complaint that the Star Tribune editorial unfairly characterized the scientific reputations of Patrick Michaels and Robert Balling."[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]

Climate of Extremes[edit]

Michaels received praise for his book, Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know (2009) from University of Alabama-Huntsville Principal Research Scientist Roy Spencer, who wrote, "Michaels and [Co-Author Robert] Balling have provided a treasure trove of the latest global warming science."[33] Will Happer, Professor of Physics and Former Chairman of the University Research Board at Princeton University, also praised the book and wrote it "...provides important and honest information about climate change that is hard to find elsewhere."[34]

Funding from energy or fossil fuel companies[edit]

On July 27, 2006 ABC News reported that a Colorado energy cooperative, the Intermountain Rural Electric Association, had given Michaels $100,000.[35] 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.[36]

Michaels acknowledged on CNN that 40 per cent of his funding came from the oil industry.[37] 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.[38]

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.[9]

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.[2] He was an author of the climate "paper of the year" awarded by the Association of American Geographers in 2004.[2]

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.
  • 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. ^ "Patrick Michaels CV". Society of Environmental Journalists. Archived from the original on November 6, 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Waldman, Scott (May 29, 2019). "POLITICS: Cato closes its climate shop; Pat Michaels is out". E&E News. Retrieved 2019-05-30.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ Michaels, Patrick J. (1979). "Atmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America". University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  8. ^ Michaels, Patrick (1 February 2007). "Live with climate change". USA Today. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b 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.
  12. ^ Michaels, Patrick (16 October 2003). "Posturing and reality on warming". Washington Times. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  13. ^ "Our Climate Numbers Are a Big Old Mess", Wall Street Journal, 4-18-08
  14. ^ Michaels, Patrick (2009). "CATO Handbook for Policy Makers" (PDF). CATO Institute.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ Gelbspan, Ross (December 1995). "The Heat is On:The warming of the world's climate sparks a blaze of denial". Harper's Magazine.
  17. ^ "What we do". Western Fuels Association.
  18. ^ Minnesota News Council, 16 April 1998, Determination 118: Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling v. Star Tribune archived at Archived March 17, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  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. ^ "New findings about climate change the media won't tell you about". National Review Book Service. Archived from the original on 2011-01-05. Retrieved 2010-01-10.
  34. ^ Michaels, Patrick (January 2009). Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know. Cato Institute. ISBN 978-1-933995-23-6.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ Borenstein, Seth (26 July 2006). "Utilities Give Warming Skeptic Big Bucks". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  37. ^ "Interview with Fareed Zakaria, Gavin Schmidt, Jeffrey Sachs and Patrick Michaels". CNN. 15 August 2010.
  38. ^ 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]