Wikipedia Climate Science Consensus dissident list investigation (2/3): Patrick Michaels

The second roll was 41 - is this die weighted? This time we’re in the “warming will be beneficial to humanity” section of the list.

Patrick Michaels

Patrick Michaels, part-time research professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia: “scientists know quite precisely how much the planet will warm in the foreseeable future, a modest three-quarters of a degree (Celsius), plus or minus a mere quarter-degree…a modest warming is a likely benefit.”

– from Posturing and Reality on Warming, CATO Institute, October 2006

Ok, so to critically analyse that - he states a fact with certainty one that I believe to have a much larger uncertainty than he acknowledges. But fundamentally I do not take issue with his statement, particularly with respect to various studies I’ve seen which show temperatures higher during the various warm periods of the last 3000 years or so.

However, Michael’s stance is no doubt why Dr James Hansen of NASA was not interested in fronting up to a debate with him.

This article from 1995 has a lot of detail on his history. The article claims he was paid over $114k over four years by solid fuel industries. So, if any claim can be made about his integrity, being non-partisan can’t form a part of that argument. He has links to the Cato Institute, although given this institute’s many criticisms of the Bush administration on various fronts I wouldn’t be so quick as to count them out of hand as evil. He’s the Chief Editor of World Climate Report, a blog claiming to exist in the “mainstream skeptic” point of view, which apparently started life as a quarterly newsletter funded by Western Fuels. I took a brief look at one or two articles on this site and I don’t see anything startlingly bad, but that’s hardly conclusive. It doesn’t seem to be interesting enough for people to comment on it.

One scientist wrote of him, “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.”

I read his list of papers and somewhat agreed, seemed inconsequential. But then someone might well think that of my achievements as a programmer too - who knows?

I’m actually tending towards not trusting this guy, for two reasons - lack of comments on the blog even though it’s a contentious topic means that the users have been driven away (as opposed to my blog, which is simply not interesting enough for people to visit, let alone comment on). That and he seems to be a tool. And a third reason. The smile.

But that’s all a very non-scientific judgement, and I present this article he writes for consideration on objective terms; Tibet’s temperature story. It references a paper by a Chinese scientist that reckons that the hottest period in the last 700 years in Tibet was the 1490’s, based on tree rings. Coincidentally, a result that concurs with the previous post!

Ok, so perhaps it’s debatable whether this guy is a scientist, given he hasn’t had a paper published in recent history and instead seems to make his living off his books and other sources. So while I won’t directly discredit his opinion, or the sample article, he doesn’t seem to be a “scientist”. Some might see this as a black mark, but I’m not inclined to mark him darker than #666.

So, onto the last episode of this saga.

(image: from his entry on

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