By Bob Burton on May 24, 2009

Patrick Michaels. Source: Cato Institute

Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow with the the Cato Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank, is one of the leading global warming skeptics. Back in 1994, when his media profile as Professor of Environmental Science at the University of Virgina and a global warming skeptic was taking off, Michaels founded New Hope Environmental Services.

The firm, which he wholly owns, describes itself as "an advocacy science consulting firm." These days, New Hope's main activities are publishing the firm's blog, World Climate Report, and helping anonymous clients to publicize "findings on climate change and scientific and social perspectives that may not otherwise appear in the popular literature or media."

While both Michaels and New Hope Environmental Services are secretive about who their clients are, a little piece of their funding jigsaw is tucked away in the backblocks of the 2006 and 2007 (pdf's - see page 10) annual returns of the Cato Institute. In its returns, Cato reports that since April 2006 they have paid $242,900 for the "environmental policy" services of Michaels' firm. (In preceding years, New Hope Environmental Services was not listed amongst the five highest paid independent contractors supplying professional services to Cato.)

In response to an email inquiry, Michaels stated that the Cato funding "largely supported the extensive background research for my 2009 book, 'Climate of Extremes,' background research on climate change, mainly in the areas of ice melt and temperature histories, and background research required for invited lectures around the world." (Climate of Extremes was published by the Cato Institute in January of this year.) Asked whether the funding came from a specific company, donor or foundation, Michaels wrote via email that there wasn't "for this or for any of my activities." (In case the Cato Institute knew of dedicated funding sources for Michaels work that he was unaware of, I also emailed an inquiry to the think tank's media office. They did not respond.)

Stalled on the Starting Grid

The funding sources of New Hope Environmental Services have long been the subject of controversy. Back in 2007 Michaels was slated to be an expert witness for a number of auto companies and lobby groups, including General Motors and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, in a legal bid aimed at preventing the government of Vermont from regulating greenhouse gases. But before Michaels got to take the stand, the case took a dramatic twist. Greenpeace intervened in the case and sought to have the clients of New Hope Environmental Services made public. Faced with the choice of disclosing his firm's client list or dropping out of the auto lobby's legal case, Michaels decided to retreat.

In an affidavit (pdf) explaining his move and opposing the Greenpeace application, Michaels stated that "public disclosure of a company's funding of New Hope and its employees has already caused considerable financial loss to New Hope. For example, in 2006 Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Inc., an electric utility, had requested that its support of $50,000 to New Hope be held confidential. After this support was inadvertently made public by another New Hope client, Tri-State informed me that it would no longer support New Hope because of adverse publicity. Also, in 2006, when a $100,000 contract between New Hope and electric utility Intermountain Rural Electric Association to synthesize and research new findings on global warming became public knowledge, a public campaign was initiated to change the composition of the board of directors so that there would be no additional funding. That campaign was successful, as Intermountain has not provided further funding."

Comments

Texas has a pretty good public information act, so to find out what went on behind the scenes with one piece of climate disinformation, back in February I filed some requests for the "backstage" correspondence from Texas A&M. They appealed to the state Attorney General, Greg Abbott, who has yet to decide - but if we can get the correspondence, oh, how enlightening that could be...

Details on what I have found so far, here. (the prize find being Joe Walker, of the 1998 American Petroleum Institute climate-disinfo-planning memo)

So far I have seen no science, just ad hominem attacks on those who do not agree with you on global warming. I want to talk about the science of global warming, and more specifically that science which James Hansen testified to in front of a Senate committee in 1988. It is not well known and has been glossed over that this was not his first but his second testimony in front of the Senate. His first time was in November 1987, it was cold, no one wanted to talk about warming, and the media ignored it completely. This did not please Senator Wirth of Colorado, the committee chairman. But if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, and he sure did. He called up the Weather Bureau and asked them to tell him what the warmest day in Washington, D.C. was. It was June 23rd so he booked that day for his next hearing. And to make sure that the air conditioning in the room did not work properly he sent his staff out at night to open all the windows in the hearing room. It worked: the TV crew, the star witness, and the audience sweated profusely and global warming was on every television set that night. It was this publicity stunt that made the establishment of the IPCC possible. But what did Hansen actually say? He said that we were in a warming trend, and that the cause of this warming was all that carbon dioxide we were putting iinto the air. What was true was that carbon dioxide was indeed increasing steadily. What was not true was that it was the cause of this warming. Because, you see, that warming was then just ten years old, having started in 1977. There was no warming whatsoever for the preceding twenty year stretch, but carbon dioxide was then already in the air, obviously an innmocent bystander. But if you believe Hansen it had to change this behavior in 1977 and suddenly decide that it was time to start warming up the world after all. You need powerful voodoo to do this but Hansen had it in him. Just exactly where were those "climate science experts" who let him get away with that fantasy? Science it is not, a miracle maybe, the miracle that became the start of a global warming religion. It is that religion which has brought us the Kyoto Protocol, the cap and trade laws, and now that idiotuc Waxman-Markey bill that members of Congress weren't even allowed to read before the vote was taken. And if you need more science still, satellite observations show that there has been no anthropogenic global warming for the last thirty years. As for the deep past, Daniel Rothman's article "Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for the last 500 million years" (PNAS 99:4167-4171)(April 2, 2002) puts it this way: "The resulting CO2 signal exhibits no systematic correspondence with geologic record of climate variations at tectonic time scales." Try if you can to digest this information and see if you still can believe that old-time religion that Hansen gave to you in 1988.

There is more than one effect that leads to changes in climate. A climate model must factor in all of these. Effects can dominate other effects, and such modelling is extremely difficult. The point is that one can only properly account for the current warming with the inclusion of Greenhouse Gases released since the industrial revolution.

Note the qualifier in the statement. Tectonic time scales are not 10 to 30 years.

For a more clear point CO2 is an efficient re-radiator of infrared radiation. One simply performs a shell integration over the atmosphere, and it becomes clear that the net radiated away from the earth decreases, as the amount of CO2 is increased.

Just like you point out in your "Trust Us, We're Experts," Michaeals's idiotic thinkless tank has a name that would lead one to believe it has a noble objective.

I'm entertained by those who challenge global warming. Perhaps the most visible are those who simply dislike Al Gore, therefore reject global warming as Gore's self-aggrandizing "cause." I think of Penn & Teller, those mediafied entertainers who also use some obscure, academic non-entity to refute recycling, and use as their source to justify that guy's claim the Competitive Enterprise Institute!

Note too that the "skeptics" most noted are economics and business professors. (!)

I'm so glad that it appears that the majority are skeptical of those alleged skeptics, and thank PR Watch for exposing some of the nonsense.

Interesting stuff. The material available to researchers on these 'liars for hire' is accumulating daily. I'll look forward to seeing a documentary on the massive propaganda network of lies and distortion and the people and corporations who have funded it.

It would be nice to think they would one day be held accountable....

Since the politicization of global warming by politicians like Al Gore, research funding by the government has been unprecedented and biased with the assumption that global warming is man-made and needs to be corrected. Even the intelligence community has been forced to "research" the effects of global warming, which in turn was used by Congress to show how serious global warming must be. If a University or private research group wants funds, than you have to go into it with the assumption being driven by the dollars. The blame placed on energy companies is justified for sponsoring biased research; as is the politically driven tax dollars and many of the biased reports being produced.

Have we really gotten to the place were honest skeptical research is not permitted or differing view are suppressed because it doesn't fit with the "abundance of evidence" paid for by politically driven tax dollars? What is that political driver: new taxes and control over an industry that has significant influence over the country.

"[Honest skeptical research"? It's time to confront reality. I'm sorry to tell you but not all scientists and science writing is of equal stature. And then there's the money trail.
And it seems that at times some skeptics rely upon the ignorance of the public of what a model is.

The problem (in my opinion) is that most of the public don't understand statistics. To them everytime we have a cold month this is proof that global warming "isn't backed up by science". The same works both ways of course.

In Most cases issues like Global warming we only know what we are told by people who tell us what they are told to say. Our climate clearly has risk, however, the amount of damage or potential damage, what can WE do to help protect what is left?

I've heard that US energy department is creating this
air conditioning system that reduces 175% of carbon monoxide with the budget of 500,000 USD dollars. It never stated in there when would be the project ends.

regards