warming speaker under fire
By Seth Slabaugh,
The Star Press (Muncie, IN)
published on 11/18/03, reprinted with permission
Virginia climatologist Patrick Michaels is such a controversial
speaker on climate change that even a news release announcing
an upcoming speech by him can start a dispute.
University recently issued a press release referring to Michaels
as 'one of the nation's leading researchers on global warming."
He will lecture on 'Global Warming: The End of the Story,"
at 7 p.m. Thursday in Cooper Science Complex room 188.
Michaels is not one of the nation's leading researchers on climate
change," asserts Peter Gleick, a conservation analyst and
president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute for Studies in
Development, Environment and Security. "On the contrary,
he is one of a very small minority of nay-sayers who continue
to dispute the facts and science about climate change in the face
of compelling, overwhelming, and growing evidence.
that Michaels is to the science of climate change like the Flat
Earth Society is to the science of planetary shape."
is an environmental research professor at the University of Virginia
and the climatologist for the state of Virginia. He is also a
senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute,
a libertarian think tank that promotes limited government and
In an e-mail
interview, Michaels said Gleick "should read what I write:
global warming is real, it is caused by people, and we can't do
much about it. What's so controversial about that?"
has given ammunition to critics because of his political activism
and his ties to the fossil fuel industry.
to Morris "Bud" Ward, editor of a recently published
climate change guidebook for journalists, Michaels will be entertaining,
provocative, compelling, and convincing when he visits Muncie
clearly he comes with an agenda," Ward said, "and it
would not be fair not to disclose his interests [to his Muncie
Ward said, "He was writing a [climate change] newsletter
funded by the Western Fuels Association, and he didn't disclose
that. He didn't disclose who the funder was."
Association provides coal for the generation of electricity by
utilities in the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain and Southwest states,
is also a visiting scientist at the Washington, D.C.-based Marshall
Institute, whose president, William O'Keefe, is former chief operating
officer of the American Petroleum Institute.
start of the industrial era, human activities such as fossil fuel
combustion have been increasing atmospheric concentrations of
greenhouse gases on a global scale, according to Ward's guidebook.
Most earth scientists believe the increased atmospheric concentrations
of greenhouse gases are absorbing more infrared energy and causing
a progressive warming of the Earth's lower atmosphere.
says he "surely did" disclose who financed the newsletter.
was in the public record from the get-go, back in 1992,"
Michaels stated. "I gave that information to journalists."
to Ward, "Pat is not correct on that. If he disclosed it
in 1992 it was only after we published it in [a journalism newsletter
called] Environment Writer."
Environment Writer published a series of articles about Michaels'
newsletter because it was being sent to members of the Society
of Environmental Journalists with no disclosure that it was financed
by Western Fuels Association.
should just represent himself as what he really is -- a spokesman
for the energy industry, "and he's a darned good one,"
Ward said. When he portrays himself as a world-class researcher
on climate change, "that's where he goes too far," Ward
who earned a doctorate in ecological climatology from the University
of Wisconsin in 1979, has become so politically active that he
is more of a political scientist than a climate scientist, Ward
Michaels is one of the climate change experts trusted by Republican
U.S. Rep. Mike Pence.
calls himself a "profound skeptic" in the debate over
"the theory of global warming," which Pence formerly
referred to as "the myth of global warming."
of the book, Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air About Global Warming,
Michaels has discussed global warming on MSNBC's "Hardball,"
on ABC's "Nightline," and on National Public Radio's
"All Things Considered."
has been published in virtually every major journal of the atmospheric
sciences, and is past president of American Association of State
Climatologists and program chair of the committee on applied climatology
of the American Meteorological Society.
He was invited
to Ball State by Rob Schwartz, assistant professor of geography.
Schwartz heard Michaels speak in 1996 and was impressed by the
way he handled himself before an audience that had a "very
mixed" reaction to that speech.
to hear different perspectives," Schwartz said. "People
can make up their own minds. There will be time for question and
answer. He doesn't want everybody to be sheep. I've heard he enjoys
different perspectives and questions."
Copyright 2003, The Star Press, reprinted with permission.