RIP, Climate Realist Pat Michaels, Ph.D.

Editor’s Note: We at The Heartland Institute were truly surprised and saddened by the passing of Patrick Michaels, Ph.D., this past weekend. We have had a long and productive relationship with Pat. More than that, he was a personal friend to many of us.

He was one of the leading lights among researchers in pursuit of the truth about climate change. As importantly, Pat was among the best and most engaging communicators of the present state of climate science and why climate doomsaying is not just unwarranted but misleading. Pat’s research and his review of the research of other climate scientists led him to believe, climate change is real and humans are contributing to it, but that it is not a catastrophe or a serious danger to the environment or human civilization. Pat referred to this position and “Lukewarming,” and himself as a “Lukewarmer.”

Pat was a speaker at 11 of The Heartland Institute’s 14 International Conferences on Climate Change, missing only those held overseas. His presentations at these events are all worth watching and some of them can be viewed (listed most recent to first) here: ICCC 14, Climate Models vs Reality; ICCC 13, Models, Data, and ‘Data;’ ICCC 12, Vacating the Endangerment FindingICCC 10, Has EPA Scientifically Justified its Climate Policies; ICCC 9, How Incentives are Destroying Science; ICCC 7, The Role of Public Choice in Climate Science; ICCC 6, Hotheads, Lukewarmers, History and the Future; ICCC 4, Global Warming Science Now Compels EPA to Reopen its Endangerment Finding; ICCC 3, Global Warming’s Climate of Extremes; ICCC 2, EPA’s Notice of Advance Rulemaking; ICCC 1, Global Warming: Some Convenient Facts. As can be seen in the CO2 Coalition’s note on Pat’s passing below, throughout his career, he received many awards for his climate research. The Heartland Instituted was proud to award Pat the Courage in Defense of Science Award in 2019.

Much more could and will be said about Dr. Patrick Michaels’ life and work in the coming days and weeks, for now Climate Realism will close with a note on his passing from Heartland Senior Fellow, award winning meteorologist Anthony Watts, which appeared originally on Watts Up With That.

I’m sorry to inform the climate realist community of the passing of friend and colleague, Dr. Patrick Michaels. I worked on several projects with Pat, and I was always impressed with his depth of knowledge, quick wit, and character. For example, he often wore green tennis shoes to climate conferences because he said the oddity would engage people in conversations he might not have had otherwise.

He once said to me that his only regret was hiring/promoting Michael Mann while he was at the University of Virginia.

From Greg Wrightstone (executive director of the CO2 Coaltion) by email:

Patrick Michaels obtained an A.B. in biological science in 1971 and an M.S. in biology in 1975 from the University of Chicago, and in 1979 he obtained his Ph.D. in ecological climatology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His doctoral thesis was titled Atmospheric anomalies and crop yields in North America.

Patrick J. Michaels was a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists and was program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society. He was a research professor of Environmental Sciences at University of Virginia for 30 years. Michaels was a contributing author and is a reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

His writing was been published in the major scientific journals, including Climate Research, Climatic Change, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Climate, Nature, and Science, as well as in popular serials worldwide. He was the author or editor of nine books on climate and its impact, and he was an author of the climate “paper of the year” awarded by the Association of American Geographers in 2004. He appeared on most of the worldwide major media.

Dr. Michaels was senior fellow at the CO2 Coalition and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

He remained very active up to his last days. He had just completed his review and comments on the USGCR decadal plan and filed them on Thursday. He and I met just Thursday to discuss his next venture looking at regional assessments of changing climate/CO2 on the Midwest

He leaves a legacy of sound science and dedication to the scientific process. He will be missed terribly.

A list of Michaels’s top-selling books is found below:

1992       Sound and Fury: The Science and Politics of Global Warming

2000       The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air about Global Warming

2004       Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media

2005       Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming

2009       Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know

2011       Climate Coup: Global Warmings Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives

2015       Climate Change: The Facts

2016       Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything

2019       Scientocracy: The Tangled Web of Public Science and Public Policy


H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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