Pat Michaels was to Climate Denial like Classic is to Coke

July 20, 2022

Above, somewhat of a profile of Pat Michael’s activities in support of fossil fuel misinformation. Includes the famous “beat down” administerered by Ben Santer when Dr MIchaels presented boilerplate denial talking points to a congressional committee.

Washington Post:

Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist who became a lightning rod in debates around climate change, reviled by activists and revered among skeptics for using his academic pedigree to challenge the broad scientific consensus on the causes and consequences of global warming, died July 15 at his home in Washington. He was 72.

His family confirmed his death but did not cite a cause.

Dr. Michaels, who spent decades as a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and as Virginia’s state climatologist, was one of the most prominent contrarian voices in political and policy discussions surrounding climate change.

He did not dispute the rising temperatures widely documented around the planet, nor did he deny a human role in the phenomenon. “I believe in climate change caused by human beings,” he told The Washington Post in 2006. “What I’m skeptical about is the glib notion that it means the end of the world as we know it.”

Below, a deeper cut – one of my videos from 2009 features vid from Michaels presentation at a Heartland Institute conference on the topic of “No warming since 1998”. (to his credit, he cautioned that audience on that talking point).

I spoke to a former colleague of Michael’s, Jerry Taylor, from when both were working at the Cato Institute. Without mentioning names, Taylor said he came to realize that a climate scientist colleague, presumably Dr. Michaels, was simply lying and dissembling about the science, leading to his own eventual exit from the anti-science community, and founding the Niskanen Center. Below, he mentions the same story at about :44.

Wikipedia on Planck’s Principle:

An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning: another instance of the fact that the future lies with the youth.

— Max Planck, Scientific autobiography, 1950, p. 33, 97

Informally, this is often paraphrased as “Science progresses one funeral at a time”.


4 Responses to “Pat Michaels was to Climate Denial like Classic is to Coke”

  1. ubrew12 Says:

    Presumably he died of heat stroke…

  2. mboli Says:

    Dana Nuccitelli had a nice post SkS about 10 years ago titled “Patrick Michaels: Serial Deleter of Inconvenient Data.”

    In 1998, Michaels testified to Congress on the 10th anniversary of James Hansen’s famous 1988 paper and testimony. Michaels testified that Hansen had way overestimated warming for those 10 years.

    Michaels achieved this by erasing two of Hansen’s predicted GHG scenarios, and showing only the worst possible future case that Hansen had analyzed. The actual carbon emissions in the intervening decade had been much closer to the other possible future cases that Michaels erased. Hansen’s paper had predicted the outcome correctly.

    But Michaels picked the worst case scenario — a carbon emissions pattern that did NOT happen. He claimed this was Hansen’s prediction and it was way wrong.

    Later Michaels was called out on this omission. He couldn’t have extracted the one prediction and NOT KNOWN what he was doing.

    Michaels defended his deception by saying that the worst-case prediction had been *labeled* something like “business as usual” in the original paper.

    Apparently, according to Nuccitelli, Michaels proceded to do the same type of trick again a few more times.

    Here is the SkS essay, from 2012. (Nuccitelli also describes this in in his book.)

  3. redskylite Says:

    And sadly in the year of 2022, amid extreme weather shocks, the legacy of people like Pat Michaels continues.

    “Looking backwards over the last 25 years, we really have lost a quarter century in what we should have been doing.”

  4. redskylite Says:

    “If you say something enough times, people will begin to believe it

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