Patrick J. Michaels

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Patrick J. Michaels
Source: Cato Institute

Patrick J. Michaels (±1942- ), also known as Pat Michaels, is a largely oil-funded global warming skeptic who argues that global warming models are fatally flawed and, in any event, we should take no action because new technologies will soon replace those that emit greenhouse gases. Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia served as an Expert Reviewer to Working Group I of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC[1].


New Hope Environmental Services "advocacy science" consulting firm

Michaels is Editor of the World Climate Report, a blog published by the "advocacy science consulting firm" New Hope Environmental Services[2], which he founded and runs.


In an affidavit in a Vermont court case, Michaels described his firm's "mission" as being to "publicize findings on climate change and scientific and social perspectives that may not otherwise appear in the popular literature or media. This entails both response research and public commentary."[3] In effect, New Hope Environmental Services is a PR firm.


Michaels' firm does not disclose who its clients are, but leaked documents have revealed that several were power utilities which operate coal power stations. On a 2007 academic CV, Michaels disclosed that prior to creating his firm he had received funding from the Edison Electric Institute and the Western Fuels Association. He has also been a frequent speaker with leading coal and energy companies as well as coal and other industry lobby groups.[4]

(For more information, see Patrick J. Michaels - career history and Patrick J. Michaels - funding.)

Other affiliations

Marshall, Cato, CFACT, ACSH

Michaels is also associated with a number of think tanks and advocacy groups which dispute global warming. He is a Visiting Scientist with the George C. Marshall Institute, a Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies with the Cato Institute[5] and a member of the Advisory Board of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.[6]

Michaels is also a Scientific Advisor of the American Council on Science and Health[7].

Past affiliations - TASSC, Greening Earth Society

Michaels was a "supporter" of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, an industry-funded PR front group created in 1993 and run by the APCO Worldwide public relations firm. It worked to hang the label of "junk science" on environmentalists. The group is now defunct.[8]

Between December 1998[9] and September 2001[10] he was listed as a "Scientific Advisor" to the Greening Earth Society, a group that was funded and controlled by the Western Fuels Association (WFA), an association of coal-burning utility companies. 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."[11]

List by date

Much of this duplicates the text above.


Michaels completed a bachelors degree in biological sciences degree in 1971 and a Masters degree in Biology in 1975 at the University of Chicago. He completed a Ph.D. in Ecological Climatology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1979 on the topic of "Atmospheric Anomalies and Crop Yields in North America".[4]

History - from the Halls of Academe To the Speaker Circuit

See Patrick J. Michaels - career history.

Funding - including varying (year&content) statements by Michaels re source of funding

See Patrick J. Michaels - funding - includes "expert witness" stint for 2007 Vermont auto industry lawsuit

Climate change - playing down importance

Climate views

In August 2004, Michaels told Business Week "We know how much the planet is going to warm. It is a small amount, and we can't do anything about it."[13]

In a July 2010 Wall Street Journal article entitled "The Climategate Whitewash Continues" Pat Michaels said "It's impossible to find anything wrong if you really aren't looking."[14]

In a 1992 opinion column, Michaels wrote of government agencies that they "exist to perpetuate themselves, and to expand their territory and their political influence. Government agencies behave just like people. The agency goals cannot be accomplished without the largesse of Congress. Thus begins a peculiar back-scratching in which political patrons define a particular problem as The Most Important in History. The agency responds by testifying that the end is near unless a few billion is spent pronto-and then it probably will be even worse than we thought. Such issues and constituencies include the ozone "hole" (NASA, NSF, EPA); global warming (NASA, NSF, DOE, EPA); sexually transmitted diseases (National Institutes of Health, NSF); or roughage shortages (NIH, U.S. Department of Agriculture). The list is as infinite as is the predilection for Homo sapiens to have nightmares."[15]

Controversies and criticisms

In 2011: Rep. Waxman calls for inquiry, re possibly misleading testimony on industry ties, funding sources

On January 25, 2011, Rep. Henry Waxman sent a letter to Rep. Fred Upton seeking to call in Michaels for questioning about his science and funding. In the letter, Waxman wrote that Pat Michaels testified before the Energy and Commerce Committee in February 2009 "that widely accepted scientific data had 'overestimated' global warming and that regulation enacted in response to that data could have 'a very counterproductive effect.' Among the scientists who testified before this Committee on the issue of climate change in the last Congress, Pat Michaels was the only one to dismiss the need to act on climate change ... Dr. Michaels may have provided misleading information about the sources of his funding and his ties to industries opposed to regulation of emissions responsible for climate change."[16]

In 2010: Assertion in climate testimony that humans caused less than half 1950+ warming (termed "not credible")

Climate scientist Benjamin Santer noted that in Michaels' Congressional testimony of November 2010, Michaels had claimed human GHG emissions caused less then half the warming (since 1950), but that this assertion was not credible:[17]

"...Professor Patrick Michaels (in Congressional testimony of November 2010) claimed that human-caused changes in greenhouse gases explain less than half of the post-1950 warming. This claim [by Michaels] is not credible. Michaels arrives at this incorrect result by completely ignoring the cooling effects of sulfate aerosol particles."

In2009: Cato Institute "just not true" ad, and WSJ Op-ed misdirection re von Storch resignation

Dec. 2009: Wall Street Journal "tip of iceberg" op-ed misrepresentation, and silence

An op-ed[18] by Michaels in the December 17, 2009 Wall Street Journal argued that the climate science consensus was illusory. Among his arguments was a selective recounting of the Climate Research episode[19]: Michaels noted that the "skeptic" paper appeared, whereupon "Messrs. Jones and Mann" threatened to boycott the journal; then half its editorial board resigned. This recounting is chronologically accurate but causally misleading; the resignations had been "because of insufficient quality control on a bad paper — a skeptic’s paper, at that."[20], [19]

Multiple emails sent to Michaels asking whether he'd been aware this was why the editors resigned, before he composed the Wall Street Journal op-ed, did not elicit a response.[21]

March 2009: Cato Institute ad, and RealClimate rebuttal

In March 2009, Michaels, under the auspices of the Cato Institute, circulated a draft advertisement that stated: "Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now ... The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior."[22] The ad statements were analyzed and criticized in detail at the RealClimate blog.[23]

Followup to Cato ad: RealClimate rebuttal of Feb 2009 Michaels testimony

In support of the statements, Chip Knappenberger of World Climate Report referred readers to recent (Feb.) testimony by Michaels to the House of Representatives Energy and Environment sub-committee[24] That too was responded to at length by Gavin Schmidt of[25]

In 2006-7: Use of "State Climatologist for Virginia" Title

While Michaels referred to himself as the State Climatologist for Virginia, in August 2006 the Governor, Timothy M. Kaine, clarified that the appointment was one by the University for its accredited climatology office but not an appointment by the state administration. "The Code of Virginia does not provide for the governor to appoint a state climatologist. My office has been unable to find evidence that any governor since 1980 has made such an appointment," Hanley wrote. While Michaels had been appointed to the position in 1980 by the then Governor John Dalton, in 2000 the American Association of State Climatologists assumed responsibility for certifying climatologists. "Therefore, it is the prerogative of the university to make that appointment," Hanley wrote.[26]

When Michaels left the university in September 2007, UVa professor James N. Galloway explained that Michaels' "utility industry funding, private research and controversial views on global warming made him a lightning rod on climate change issues," and "left the [climatologist's] office too politicized."[27]

In 2004: Michaels-McKitrick Climate paper basic error

Michaels "co-operated with Ross McKitrick on another paper that managed to "prove" that global warming wasn't happening by mixing up degrees with radians."[28]

In 2000-2003: Gleick and suit threat, Holdren, Social Epistemology, IPCC's Wigley

In 2003 Peter Gleick, a conservation analyst and president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, said "Pat Michaels is not one of the nation's leading researchers on climate change. On the contrary, he is one of a very small minority of nay-sayers who continue to dispute the facts and science about climate change in the face of compelling, overwhelming, and growing evidence."[29] Michaels responded by threatening to sue. (Michaels had gotten another scientist to withdraw similar remarks.)[30] But Gleick stood by his statement and others have joined him.

Dr. John Holdren of Harvard University told the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, "Michaels is another of the handful of US 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."[31]

An article in the journal Social Epistemology concluded "...the observations upon which PM [Patrick Michaels] draws his case are not good enough to bear the weight of the argument he wishes to make."[32]

Dr. Tom Wigley, lead author of parts of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one of the world's leading climate scientists, was quoted by Ross Gelbspan as stating 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."[33]

In 1995: Industry scientists: Michaels' temperature record objections not cogent

An internal 1995 document (pdf) of the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) -- an industry front group that disbanded in 2002 -- reviewed some of the "contrarian" arguments used by Patrick Michaels and other climate change skeptics.[34] The document concluded that:

...contrarian theories raise interesting questions about our total understanding of climate processes, but they do not offer convincing arguments against the conventional model of greenhouse gas emission-induced climate change. ... Michaels' questions about the temperature record are not convincing arguments against any conclusion that we are currently experiencing warming as the result of greenhouse gas emissions. ...[And] anomalies in the temperature record [do not] offer a mechanism for off-setting the much larger rise in temperature which might occur if the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases were to double or quadruple."[35]

Books by Michaels

Articles and resources


  1. "[1]"
  2. "New Hope Environmental Services", New Hope Environmental Services website, accessed May 2009.
  3. Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, "Affidavit of Dr. Patrick J. Michaels", United States District Court for the District of Vermont, Green Mountain Chrysler et al. v. Crombie et al., Docket No. 02:05-CV-302, July 6, 2007.(Pdf)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 "Patrick Michaels CV Plain Text File-Climate Change Guide/Skeptics and Contrarians", Society of Environmental Journalists, accessed May 2009.
  5. "Patrick J. Michaels: Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies", Cato Institute, accessed May 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Advisory Board, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, accessed May 2009.
  7. No byline (Undated). Scientific Advisors > About ACSH. ACSH. Retrieved on 2010-12-08. “Patrick J. Michaels, Ph.D.; University of Virginia”
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) Supporters List", June 30, 1993. Bates Number 2024233615/3618.
  9. "Scientific Advisers", Greening Earth Society, website archived from December 1998.
  10. Greening Earth Society, "Scientific Advisers", Greening Earth Society, website archived from September 2001.
  11. "Join GES", Greening Earth Society website, archived from March 2005.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Tom Hockaday, "International Meeting in Europe on Sound Science", APCO Associates/GCI Group, May 9, 1994.
  13. John Carey and Sarah R. Shapiro, "Global Warming", Businessweek, August 16, 2004.
  14. "[2]"
  15. Patrick J. Michaels, "Give Industry a Bigger Role (Title incomplete", Roanoke Times, December 29, 1992.
  16. "Rep. Waxman Presses for Inquiry on Global Warming Denier Pat Michaels" HuffPo, Jan. 25, 2011.
  17. Anna Haynes (2011-05-25). Ben Santer clarifies his "...legitimate debate..." statement from last fall's climate testimony. Warming101 blog. Retrieved on 2011-05-28. “(2011-05-25 correspondence)”
  18. Pat Michaels (2009-12-17). How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus. Retrieved on 2011-10-13.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Clare Goodess (2003-11). Stormy Times for Climate Research. SGR. Retrieved on 2009-12-26. “...Hans von Storch and I were also aware of three earlier Climate Research papers about which people had raised concerns over the review process. In all these cases, de Freitas had had editorial responsibility.”
  20. Things Break (pseudonym) (2009-12-18). Pat Michaels lying in the Wall Street Journal. The Way Things Break. Retrieved on 2011-10-13.
  21. Emails from ahaynes, 2009 and 2010
  22. Cato Institute, "With all due respect Mr.President, that is not true.", Real Climate, March 2009.
  23. "With all due respect…", RealClimate, March 24, 2009.
  24. "Testimony of Patrick J. Michaels", House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, February 12, 2009.
  25. Gavin Schmidt, "Michaels’ new graph", RealClimate, March 26, 2009.
  26. Aaron Kessler, State: Climatologist appointed by university: Michaels no longer Virginia official", Daily Progress, August 19, 2006. (Scroll down).
  27. "Michaels Out As Virginia State Climatologist: Controversial state climatologist steps down", Newport News (Va.) Daily Press, September 27, 2007. (This is an Associated Press story.)
  28. Tim Lambert, "McKitrick screws up yet again", Deltoid, August 26, 2004.
  29. Seth Slabaugh, "Global warming speaker under fire", Star Press (Muncie, IN), November 18, 2003.
  30. "Science, Climate Change, and Censorship: The Pacific Institute, Patrick Michaels, and the science of climate change", Pacific Institute, undated but approx late 2003.
  31. John Holdren, "The Shaky Science Behind the Climate Change Sense of the Congress Resolution", US Senate Republican Policy Committee, June 2, 2003.
  32. Simon Shackley, "Commentary on the debate between James Hansen and Patrick Michaels, November 1998", Social Epistemology, 2000, vol. 14, nos. 2/3, pages 181–186.
  33. Ross Gelbspan, "Global Warmers", The Nation, March 20, 2001.
  34. Andrew C. Revkin, "Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate", New York Times, April 23, 2009.
  35. Global Climate Coalition, "Primer on Climate Change Science· Final Draft", January 18, 1996, pages 16-17.

Related SourceWatch articles

External resources

External articles

By Michaels

See Patrick J. Michaels - his articles and papers for articles and papers by Pat Michaels.

See Patrick J. Michaels - his testimony for testimony by Pat Michaels.

General articles