Patrick Michaels


Patrick J. Michaels


  • S.M. Biology, University of Chicago (1975).
  • Biological Sciences, University of Chicago (1971).
  • Special Graduate Committee on Ecological Climatology (1979).

Source: [1]


Pat Michaels is the director of the Center for the Study of Science at the conservative Cato Institute. Michaels is a regular commentator on climate change issues on Fox News and other conservative news outlets.  

He also writes regularly for Forbes, contributes opinion articles to US newspapers and has written several books sceptical of climate change science and the risks of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Michaels' columns also regularly suggest climate scientists who accpt the risks of rising greenhouse gas emissions are being influenced by the availability of taxpayer funds.

Michaels has a history of carrying out work on climate change shown to have been funded by fossil fuel interests.

He was the founder of a consulting firm titled New Hope Environmental Services. Michaels described (PDF) the firm's purpose as 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.” [2]

SourceWatch describes New Hope Environmental Services as “in effect … a PR firm.” New Hope is secretive about its funding sources, and fought a Greenpeace motion seeking disclosure.  It is known to have received funds from electrical utilities in the past.

New Hope Environmental Services also ran a climate change bulletin titled The World Climate Report which was edited by Patrick Michaels and funded by coal group Western Fuels Association

Analysis of the tax records of the Cato Institute found that in 2006 and 2007 the think tank paid Michaels' New Hope more than $240,000 in fees.

Michaels once estimated that “40 percent” of his funding comes from the oil industry. [3] He was also a “member scientist” at The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition - an organisation created and funded by the tobacco industry to fight anti-tobacco legislation.

Stance on Climate Change

“It's hardly news that human beings have had a hand in the planetary warming that began more than 30 years ago. For nearly a century, scientists have known that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide would eventually result in warming that was most pronounced in winter, especially on winter's coldest days, and a cooling of the stratosphere. All of these have been observed… .

“… the best policy is to live with some modest climate change now and encourage economic development, which will generate the capital necessary for investment in the more efficient technologies of the future.” [4]

Key Quotes

June 3, 2014

Patrick Michaels wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Times one day following the EPA's release of its Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule:

“The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own computer model easily shows that President Obama’s proposed regulations would reduce global warming by around 0.02 of a degree Celsius by the year 2100. Actually, the true number is probably even smaller because that calculation assumes a future rate of warming — there hasn’t been any for 17 years now — quite a bit higher than it is likely to be.” [32]

August 22, 2013

“The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is nearing the final stages of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)—the latest, greatest version of its assessment of the science of climate change. Information is leaking out, with some regularity, as to what the final report will contain (why it is secretive in the first place is beyond us).” [30]

The IPCC has three options: 1. Round-file the entire AR5 as it now stands and start again. 2. Release the current AR5 with a statement that indicates that all the climate change and impacts described within are likely overestimated by around 50%, or 3. Do nothing and mislead policymakers and the rest of the world. We’re betting on door number 3.” [31]

“Reports of rapid disintegration of Greenland’s ice ignore the fact that the region was warmer than it is now for several decades in the early 20th century, before humans could have had much influence on climate. Similar stories concerning Antarctica neglect the fact that the net temperature trend in recent decades is negative, or that warming the surrounding ocean can serve only to enhance snowfall, resulting in a gain in ice. Global warming affects hurricanes in both positive and negative fashions, and there is no relationship between the severity of storms and ocean-surface temperature, once a commonly exceeded threshold temperature is reached. Reports of massive species extinction also turn out to be impressively flawed.” [5]

Key Deeds

July 7 - 9, 2014

Patrick Michaels was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9) in Las Vegas, Nevada. [33]

DeSmogBlog has done in-depth research on the other speakers and sponsors from Heartland's ICCC9, which can be found here.

August 22, 2013

Michaels co-publishes a report with Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger entitled, “IPCC Chooses Option No. 3.

“Option No. 3,” references an earlier report written by Michaels, in Cato At Liberty, stating one of the IPCC's options is to mislead policy makers and the rest of the word with AR5. This was “the door” they were betting on. [30]

January 17, 2013

Patrick Michaels published a piece in The Washington Times which asserts that “there has been no significant warming trend since the fall of 1996,” and that “it's a pretty good bet that we are going to go nearly a quarter of a century without warming.” [24]

Michaels' article was published at the same time as a Washington Times editorial which similarly asserts that “There has been no appreciable warming since 1998.” The editorial cites a recent paper by renowned climate scientist James E. Hansen, producing just one statement from Hansen's report as evidence: “The 5-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slowdown in the growth rate of the net climate forcing.” [25]

Based on this statement, the paper claims that “Mr. Hansen has just acknowledged more than the lack of warming. His words confirm nature, not mankind, played the decisive role in directing global temperatures over the past 10 years.” A number of other climate change skeptics have already pointed to this statement as an “admission” that they were right all along. [26]

This is just one statement from Hansen's actual report (PDF). If one were to read further, they would discover that the assertion of “no appreciable warming” is not necessarily supported (emphasis added): [27]

“These short-term global fluctuations are associated principally with natural oscillations of tropical Pacific sea surface temperatures summarized in the Nino index in the lower part of the figure. 2012 is nominally the 9th warmest year, but it is indistinguishable in rank with several other years, as shown by the error estimate for comparing nearby years.  Note that the 10 warmest years in the record all occurred since 1998.

The long-term warming trend, including continual warming since the mid-1970s, has been conclusively associated with the predominant global climate forcing, human-made greenhouse gases, which began to grow substantially early in the 20th century. The approximate stand-still of global temperature during 1940-1975 is generally attributed to an approximate balance of aerosol cooling and greenhouse gas warming during a period of rapid growth of fossil fuel use with little control on particulate air pollution […]”

October, 2012

Authors of a 2009 US Federal Advisory Committee report Global Climate Change Impacts on the United States criticise the Cato Institute for producing a document using near identical cover images and layout to their own report in a “deceptive and misleading way”.

Michaels was the editor-in-chief of the Cato Institute report, titled ADDENDUM: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States [pdf]. The addendum concluded climate change was a “minor overlay” on US society and that sea level rise would be “easily adapted to”.

The Cato report accused the authors of the original report of “systematic bias”, claiming they had made the climate change problem appear worse than it really was in order to sustain further research income.

In a statement members of the federally-funded US Global Change Research Program, which produced the original report, said they were “dismayed” by the Cato Institute's effort. The statement said: 

The Cato report is in no way an addendum to our 2009 report.  It is not an update, explanation, or supplement by the authors of the original report.  Rather, it is a completely separate document lacking rigorous scientific analysis and review.

The authors of the Cato Institute report say that their report has more references than our report, but this is a meaningless distinction that does not reflect relative thoroughness. Our 2009 report was intentionally written to be accessible to a general audience and, consequently, cited only the most authoritative and comprehensive sources.  The Cato Institute report includes numerous citations of marginal relevance and excludes or misrepresents key publications that, in fact, contradict its interpretations.

In a report on The Daily Climate, John Abraham, an associate professor at the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota, said of the Cato report:

It's not an addendum. It's a counterfeit. It's a continued effort to kick the can down the road: A steady drip, drip, drip of fake reports by false scientists to create a false sense of debate.

May 21 - 23, 2012

Patrick Michaels was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's 7th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7).

DeSmogBlog researched the co-sponsors behind Heartland's ICCC7 and found that they had collectively received over $67 million from ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers and the conservative Scaife family foundations.

Heartland's president Joe Bast revealed at the end of the conference that the Institute has no plans for future ICCCs. This could be in part due to the defections of corporate sponsors following Heartland's unsuccessful Unabomber billboard campaign and the unintended release of their confidential documents.

June 30 - July 1, 2011

Michaels was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change.

His speech was titled “Hotheads, Lukewarmers, History, and the Future.” [6]

November, 2010

Patrich Michaels testified on Climate Change to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment at the United States House of Representatives on November 17, 2010.

Michaels listed four objectives for his testimony: [22]

“1) Demonstration that the rate greenhouse-related warming is clearly below the mean of climate forecasts from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that are based upon changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations that are closest to what is actually being observed,

2) demonstration that the Finding of Endangerment from greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency is based upon a very dubious and critical assumption,

3) demonstration that the definition of science as a public good induces certain biases that substantially devalue efforts to synthesize science, such as those undertaken by the IPCC and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), and

4) demonstration that there is substantial discontent with governmental and intergovernmental syntheses of climate change and with policies passed by this House of Representatives.”

According to an analysis by climate scientist Benjamin Santer (PDF), Michaels' testimony that human GHG emissions caused less than half of the warming since 1950 was not credible. [23]

June 2, 2009

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's Third International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC3). [6]

The conference’s theme was “Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis” to reflect Heartland's belief that that “scientific debate is not over,” and it was designed to “call attention to widespread dissent to the asserted 'consensus' on various aspects of climate change and global warming.”

February 12, 2009

Testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Environment during their hearing, “The Climate Crisis: National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats.”

According to the World Climate Report,  “Dr. MIchaels' general message was that the recent behavior of global temperatures is starting to push the (lower) bounds of climate models’ expectations of such behavior and that if the current slowdown in the rate of global warming continues for much longer, we must start to question the reliability of climate projections of the future state of our climate.” [7]


Participated in the “Climate Chains” video along with fellow climate change skeptics Myron Ebell, Marlo Lewis, Chris Horner, and Todd Wynn.

The video claims that “One of the greatest threats to freedom and prosperity in America is climate change legislation.” The video was organized by the Cascade Policy Institute. [21]

March 2 - 4, 2008

Michaels was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's First International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1). [6]

According to conference's invitation letter, “The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective”(emphasis added).

July, 2007

Michaels states in an affidavit to a Vermont court that he is withdrawing from a case in which he was to be an expert witness to avoid having to disclose the funders of New Hope Environmental Services Inc., a company he solely owns. In the case, car makers were trying to block legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions from the auto industry.

In the affidavit, Michaels states his company is “a consultancy whose mission is to publicize findings on climate change and scientific and social persepctives that may not otherwise appear in the popular literature or media”. Michaels stated:

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.

May 2, 2007

Patrick Michaels was an “Expert” on Appeared on Glenn Beck's special “Exposed: The Climate of Fear” (PDF).

Beck promised the program would present the “other side of the climate debate that you don't hear anywhere.” Media Transparency recorded a list of falsehoods that were propagated by the program. [8]

March 8, 2007

Michaels appeared in The Great Global Warming Swindle along with other prominent climate change skeptics such as Tim Ball, Roy Spencer, Fred Singer and others.

The Great Global Warming Swindle received critical response from the scientific community, including a letter to ABC signed by thirty-seven British Scientists that claimed: [9]

“the misrepresentations of facts and views, both of which occur in your programme, are so serious that repeat broadcasts of the programme, without amendment, are not in the public interest. In view of the seriousness of climate change as an issue, it is crucial that public debate about it is balanced and well-informed.” 

An interview between ABC Australia’s Tony Jones and the film’s director Martin Durkin also brought the film’s validity and scientific accuracy into question.

January 2007

report by the Union of Concerned Scientists titled “Smoke, Mirrors and Hot Air: how ExxonMobil uses big tobacco to manufacture uncertainty on climate science,” finds that in the preceding years Michaels had been connected to at least 11 think-tanks and groups that had received money from ExxonMobil, many of which had gone on to sow doubt about human-induced global warming.

July 17 - 19, 2006

Michaels attended the International Conference on Global Warming and the Next Ice Age which convenes every five years, with the most recent (PDF) being in 2006 (which included an extensive workshop on “climate prediction uncertainties”). [10]

Organizer Petr Chylek claims its purpose is to “promote open discussion” regarding climate issues. The conference suggests that global warming is a natural process and possibly even “a blessing.” [11]

Other climate skeptics who have attended the conference include Fred Singer, Chris De Freitas, Roger Pielke Sr., and Ross McKitrick.

July, 2006

DeSmogBlog and ABC News uncovered a leaked memo written by the president of the Intermountain Rural Electrical Association that linked to Patrick Michaels' consulting firm.

The memo shows that New Hope Environmental Services received $100,000 from the IREA and “other electrical cooperatives” in the past. Controversy ensued, with the Virginia governor's office voicing its concern over Michaels use of the title of “state climatologist.”

The Washington Post reports: [12]

“Michaels, a professor at the University of Virginia, also moonlights as one of the country's most aggressive and, in some circles, most reviled skeptics about the scientific consensus on climate change. It was that role that landed Michaels in the center of a small controversy in Richmond last month, when the administration of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) asked him to be clear that he is not speaking for the state when discussing issues such as global warming.”

August 19, 2002

Appeared on CNN's “Capital Gang”, arguing against the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Michaels also argued that global warming, if it is happening, could be beneficial. [13]

December 31, 1998

Published a study entitled “Long Hot Year: Latest Science Debunks Global Warming Hysteria” through the Cato Institute's “Policy Analysis” series. [14]


Patrick Michaels helps The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition develop a set of “five guiding scientific principles” aimed at “offering federal and state government a yardstick against which to measure science in public policy.” Michaels is listed in a TASSC newsletter as a “member scientist” who had helped to draft the guidelines.

TASSC was a front group created in 1993 by specialist crisis PR company APCO Worldwide and cigarette firm Philip Morris to fight tobacco legislation and discredit science linking smoking to health concerns.


Michaels lends his “expert” advice on the impacts of global warming to a public relations campaign conceived and funded by a coalition of coal companies and electric utilities.  The campaign, under the title “Information Council on the Environment”, aims to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact)”

Western Fuels Association and The Southern Company joined utilities association Edison Electric Institute to develop the campaign.

Michaels was to be one of three members of a science advisory panel to lend credibility to the campaign and would make broadcast media appearances, do interviews and provide his signature to a letter sent to members of the public who had responded to the campaign.  


  • Weidenbaum Center — Study Author. [17]


Michaels has published numerous research papers in peer-reviewed journals in the area of climate.

Michaels has co-published many of his studies with well known climate skeptics. He was co-published numerous papers with Paul C. Knappenberger, Robert E. Davis, David Douglass, and S. Fred Singer.

Some of Michaels's papers were published in Climate Research journal around the time that climate skeptic Chris de Freitas was serving as one of the journal's editors. Half of the journal's editors resigned over poor quality control in mid-2003.

Additionally, he has published some of his papers in the journal Energy and Environment, run by climate skeptic Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen. Christiansen has described (PDF) her journal as a place for skeptics to go when their papers are rejected by more mainstream science journals. [20]

For example:

  • Robert E. Davis, Paul C. Knappenberger, Patrick J. Michaels, Wendy M. Novicoff. “Seasonality of climate–human mortality relationships in US cities and impacts of climate change” (PDF), Climate Research, Vol. 26 (April 19, 2004).
  • Patrick J. Michaels, Paul C. Knappenberger, and Robert E. Davis. “Sea-surface temperatures and tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin” (PDF), Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33 (May, 2006).


  1. Patrick Michaels CV Plain Text File-Climate Change Guide/Skeptics and Contrarians,” Society of Environmental Journalists. Archived July 16, 2011.

  2. “Green Mountain Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep, et al. Plantiffs v. George crombie, et al. Defendants, Greenpeace, Inc. Intervenor” (PDF), United States District Court (District of Vermont) Case 2:05-cv-00302-wks, Document 521-4 (Filed 07/06/2007), Docket Nos. 02:25-CV-302, 02:05-CV-305 (Consolidated). Accessed January, 2012, from

  3. Brad Johnson. “Cato’s Pat Michaels admits 40 percent of funding comes from big oil,” ThinkProgress, August 16, 2010.

  4. Live with Climate Change,” USA Today, February 2, 2007. Republished by the Cato Institute.

  5. Is the Sky Really Falling? A Review of Recent Global Warming Scare Stories,” the Cato Institute, Policy Analysis no. 576 (August 23, 2006).

  6. Patrick J. Michaels,” International Conference on Climate Change ( Accessed January, 2012.

  7. Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Testimony,” World Climate Report, February 13, 2009.

  8. Exposed: Glenn Beck's Climate of Distortion,” Media Transparency, May 8, 2007.

  9. The Great Global Warming Swindle: open letter to Martin Durkin from 37 signatories (April 2007),” April 24, 2007. Republished by Climate of denial.

  10. “The Second International Conference on Global warming and the Next Ice Age” (PDF), Accessed January, 2012, from Zender Group Webserver.

  11. The First International Conference on Global Warming and The Next Ice Age,” Accessed January, 2012.

  12. Juliet Eilperin and David A. Fahrenthold. “Climatologist Draws Heat From Critics,” The Washington Post, September 17, 2006.

  13. Pat Michaels Is Interviewed for CNN's “Capital Gang” (transcript),” Cato Institute, August 19, 2002.

  14. Patrick Michaels. “Long Hot Year: Latest Science Debunks Global Warming Hysteria,” Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 329 (December 31, 1998).

  15. Dr. Patrick J. Michaels,” George C. Marshall Institute. Accessed January, 2012.

  16. Patrick J. Michaels: Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies,” The Cato Institute. Accessed January, 2012.

  17. “Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air” (PDF), Union of Concerned Scientists, January, 2007.

  18. The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) Supporters List,” June 3-, 1993. Archived at Legacy Tobacco Documents Library February 1, 2002.

  19. CFACT Board of Advisors,” Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Accessed January, 2012.

  20. Paul D. Thacker. “Skeptics get a journal” (PDF), Environmental Science & Technology Online, August 31, 2005. Republished by RealClimate.

  21. About the Experts,” Archived April 1, 2010.

  22. Testimony of Patrick J. Michaels on Climate Change,” November 17, 2010. Republished by the Cato Institute.

  23. “A probabilistic quantification of the anthropogenic component of twentieth century global warming,” Clim. Dyn., published online November 8, 2012.

  24. MICHAELS: Global warming apocalypse canceled,” The Washington Times, January 17, 2013.

  25. EDITORIAL: Global warming takes a vacation,” The Washington Times, January 17, 2013.

  26. David Whitehouse. “JAMES HANSEN ADMITS GLOBAL TEMPERATURE STANDSTILL IS REAL,” The Observatory, January 17, 2013.

  27. J. Hansen, M. Sato, R. Ruedy. “Global Temperature Update Through 2012 (PDF),” January 15, 2013. Retrieved from

  28. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Patrick J. Michaels.

  29. Patrick J. Michaels,” SourceWatch Profile.

  30. IPCC Choose Option No. 3,” Patrick J. Michaels, August 22, 2013.

  31. IPCC Ar5 is in Real Trouble, Patrick J. Michaels, July 26, 2013.

  32. Patrick Michaels, “Obama's cold political calculus on global warming,” The Washington Times, June 3, 2014. Archived June 11, 2014.

  33. Return of Climate Denial-a-Palooza: Heartland Institute Hitches Anti-Science Wagon to Vegas FreedomFest,” DeSmogBlog, July 7, 2014. Archived July 14, 2014.


This is a guest post by David Suzuki. 

How long can you go without water? You could probably survive a few weeks without water for cooking. If you stopped washing, the threat to your life might only come from people who can’t stand the smell. But most people won’t live for more than three days without water to drink. It makes sense: our bodies are about 65 per cent water.

According to the United Nations, about 750 million people lack access to safe water — that’s one in nine! One child dies...

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