patrick michaels

Thu, 2013-06-06 05:00Graham Readfearn
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The Campaigns That Tried To Break The Climate Science Consensus

So just in case anyone wasn’t sure, a major study of almost 12,000 scientific papers on global warming between 1991 and 2011 finds less than one per cent disagree that humans are the main cause.

Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study led by John Cook, the Australia-based founder of Skeptical Science, confirms the debate about the causes of global warming had all but vanished in the scientific literature by the early 1990s. Almost all the research says it’s mostly caused by humans.

For any followers of climate science in journals (the place where it actually matters) the finding wasn’t really news at all.

Yet survey after survey finds the public still thinks scientists are arguing over the causes of global warming and the media continues to attempt to resuscitate long-dead ideas.

Does it matter that people have a clear understanding of the main thrust of the science? A 2012 study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that people were more likely to accept human-caused global warming if they were informed that scientists were in broad agreement (which we know they are).

For decades, fossil fuel-funded groups, free market think tanks (some of which also qualify as fossil fuel funded groups) and the fossil fuel industry itself have known the importance of the public’s understanding of the state of climate science. A public that understands the state of the science is more likely to want something done about climate change. Doing something, means using a lot less fossil fuel.

But who wanted to tell the public that a consensus didn’t exist? Here are just some of the campaigns run over the years showing how breaking the consensus in the eyes of the public was a key strategy.

Thu, 2012-11-01 14:00Brendan DeMelle
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Romney Aide Andrea Saul Denied Climate Connection to Hurricane Katrina, Is Sandy Next?

Over half a decade ago, Andrea Saul, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's press secretary, denied any link between Hurricane Katrina and climate change.

Working as a hired gun on behalf of ExxonMobil at the Washington, DC PR firm DCI Group, Saul was listed as the contact person on a press release that denied that global warming is intensifying extreme weather events:

Coming off one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in recent memory, many are quick to blame the strength and frequency of these storms on global warming. Leading climate scientists, however, say there is no link between increased storm activity and a massive change in global climate.

The 2006 Saul/DCI press release quotes the Koch-funded Cato Institute's Patrick Michaels, who stated, “There are many more factors determining hurricane frequency and severity, some of which (such as westerly wind strength) should become LESS conducive to hurricanes as the planet warms.” 

Michaels is a notorious climate change denier who stated in August 2010 on CNN that 40 percent of his funding comes from the oil industry. As with Hurricane Katrina, Pat Michaels this week denied any connection between climate change and Hurricane Sandy.

Will Andrea Saul, speaking on behalf of team Romney/Ryan, be next to deny that global warming added the steroids that increased the devastation of Hurricane Sandy?

Thu, 2012-11-01 09:43Steve Horn
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Merchants of Doubt Deny Climate Change Connection to Hurricane Sandy

Many serious, thought-provoking post-mortems have ensued in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which recently tore through the heart of the financial capital of the world. The disaster will cost the city roughly $60 billion to repair, according to an Associated Press report

Figures such as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former President Bill Clinton, writer and activist Bill McKibben, environmental reporter Mark Hertsgaard, and numerous others all have connected the dots between the tragedy in New York City and its excerbation at the hands of climate change.  

On the other side of the spectrum, no matter how bad the tragedy, it seems, climate change denial will continue apace by the “merchants of doubt.” Hurricane Sandy was no exception this time around.

Patrick Michaels of the Koch-funded Cato Institute - who recently authored a report described by Greenpeace USA's Connor Gibson as a “Counterfeit Climate Report to Deceive Congress” - denied any connection between climate change and Sandy, going so far as to raise the specter of “global cooling.” 

Wed, 2012-03-07 09:59Steve Horn
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Kochtopus Cato Institute Power Grab: A Historical Perspective

A new chapter is being added to the ongoing Kochtopus saga. On March 1 the Washington Post, in a story sure to fill the airwaves for the weeks and months to come, revealed the Kochtopus is suing the Cato Institute for control of the recently deceased and former Cato Chairman William Niskanen's ownership share in the think-tank.

The Koch Empire was recently outed by DeSmogBlog as a key seed funder of the climate change denier think-tank, the Heartland Institute. Heartland's internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog (see “Heartland Exposed”). 

Billionaire oil baron Charles Koch is now waging war against another entity that was created with Koch seed money decades ago: the Cato Institute.

The Post explained succinctly:

At the heart of the dispute is the fate of the shares owned by Niskanen, who died in October at age 78 of complications from a stroke. The Koch brothers believe that they have the option to buy Niskanen’s shares, while Cato officials believe that the shares belong to Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn, according to the complaint.

Cato's Pat Michaels is a key player in the world of climate change denial, “sowing the seeds of doubt” on human-caused climate change.

That said, Cato has also stood up for key libertarian principles in the past that do not fit a partisan framework. Among them: protection of civil liberties, opposition to imperialism, opposition to the war on drugs, opposition to the militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies, and support for gay rights, to name several.

A brief overview of the key movers and shakers behind Cato's ascendancy is important to understand the rise of the Koch Empire and the split between the faux-libertarians and the true libertarians.

Thu, 2012-03-01 11:36Steve Horn
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Heartland Institute: A Manifestation of the Kochtopus Empire

It is nearly impossible to discuss the vast climate change denial echo chamber and not mention the Koch BrothersKoch Industries, and what some have called the Koch Empire.

Perhaps unsurpisingly then, the origins of the Heartland Institute – whose internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog – have a direct historical link to the rise of the Kochtopus's wide-reaching climate change denial machine.

It all began in 1977 in Wichita, Kansas, with the creation of the Cato Institute.

David Padden, Cato Institute, and the Rise of Heartland

The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 and originally funded by Charles Koch, of Koch Industries fame and fortune.

It is known today for its libertarian policy stances on issues like the War on Drugsanti-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties, and perhaps most notoriously for its climate change denial and pro-polluter stance in energy policy debates. Cato's most infamous talking head today is Pat Michaels, who serves as its “Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies.”

One of the key original members of Cato's Board of Directors was David Padden, a Chicago, IL-based investment banker and then owner of Padden & Company, which now also has a spinoff called Padco Lease Corporation. Padden passed away in October 2011.

In 1984, piggybacking off of his role at Cato, Padden founded the Heartland Institute, also serving on its original Board of Directors.

Thu, 2011-08-04 11:20Graham Readfearn
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Denial Down Under With The Galileo Movement

The Galileo Movement

THERE’S a new climate denial lobby group on the block - bravely regurgitating previously debunked pseudo-science and making wild unsubstantiated claims that climate scientists are all corrupt.

Not happy with misrepresenting the science on climate change, The Galileo Movement has also misappropriated the name of the father of modern science who was persecuted for his insistance that the Sun, rather than the Earth, was the centre of the universe.

The Galileo Movement, launched in Australia, has stated its prime mission is to stop the Government’s current efforts to introduce a price on greenhouse gas emissions and boasts a list of advisors resembling a who’s who of international climate change denial.

Wed, 2011-05-11 13:25Richard Littlemore
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Skeptics for Exxon: Oil Funds Climate of Criticism

The Carbon Brief (TCB) has a nice analysis on the not-very-startling coincidence that at least nine of the top 10 “skeptical” “scientists” who are publishing on climate change have direct links to Exxon.

This is interesting, as well, in that it doesn’t account for the increasing amounts of money being invested invested by funders (such as the Koch brothers) who have been taking a less transparent approach than Exxon in acknowledging their links.

In a second instalment, TCB also took a closer look at both the quality and content of the purported “900+” science papers identified by the Global Warming Policy Foundation as somehow skeptical of the science of climate change. The news, for the skeptics as for the climate, turns out to be all bad.

Fri, 2011-02-11 12:50Richard Littlemore
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Tom Harris: Silly Petitions; Lies of Omission

Public relations man and energy industry lobbyist Tom Harris has launched a new paper arguing that the great scientific academies in the world have misrepresented the consensus that human activity is causing climate change - and yet Harris begins and ends by misrepresenting himself.

The bio in Harris’s paper, released by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, presents him as “Executive Director of the science-based, nonpartisan group, the International Climate Science Coalition.” It says he’s “an engineer and project manager” and it comes close to the truth in adding that he is a “communications professional and media and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic.”

What it doesn’t mention is that Harris is a PR guy and a lobbyist, most commonly for energy industry firms. We know, for example, that he was a senior associate for the PR firm APCO Worldwide, in which role he was instrumental in launching the climate change denial (and oil industry front group) Friends of Science. We know that he moved on to a senior position at a lobby firm called the High Park Group, from which perch he created the Natural Resource Stewardship Project. We know that when NRSP was outed as an astroturf group that Harris popped up next at the International Climate Science Coalition, a group devoted not to science but to “coordinated local activism.”

Mon, 2011-01-24 11:53Richard Littlemore
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Waxman Asks if Pat Michaels Has Misrepresented His Funding

Rep Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, has written to committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) requesting an investigation into whether Patrick J. Michaels misled the committee when he reported that only three per cent of his income comes from industry.

Michaels is a famous denier-for-hire who, as Waxman notes, has estimated previously that 40% of his income comes from the energy industry. As the only “scientist” who told the E&C committee that climate change is nothing to worry about, it should be interesting to question whether that opinion was bought and paid for - and by whom - especially when Pat Michaels’ personal accounting seems so casually inaccurate.

Given that Michaels hailed from Virginia, maybe that state’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would like to join the investigation. He’s all about holding people accountable, isn’t he?

Wed, 2010-11-17 15:44Richard Littlemore
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ICSC Climate Scientists' Register: Usual suspects; usual tactics

The tired, old climate-change deniers who keep trying to get themselves taken seriously have launched another petition claiming that “having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, (they) do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming.”

This new laundry list of paid skeptics and ideologues is yet another instalment in the periodic petition process that has confused the climate conversation since Dr. S. Fred Singer launched the first such stunt in 1992. In fact, usual suspects such as Singer, Richard Lindzen, Patrick Michaels and Sherwood Idso are on both lists.

Connoisseurs will recognize more names, perennial Canadian deniers like Tim Patterson and Tim Ball, both alumni of an evolving series of oil-backed astroturf groups including the Friends of Science and the Natural Resources Stewardship Project. The oily lobbyist and former APCO Worldwide PR guy Tom Harris, who was prominent in both of those organizations, is also the “brains” behind this effort.

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