Thursday, August 03, 2006

Praising With Faint Condemnation

A new article in the Cavalier Daily notes that climate-change denier Patrick J. Michaels is facing a bit of scrutiny over the generous funding his consulting firm received from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA).

In a memo sent out to electrical co-operative members on July 17, Lewandowski wrote "we decided to support Dr. Patrick Michaels and his group (New Hope Environmental Services, Inc). Dr. Michaels has been supported by electric co-operatives in the past and also receives financial support from other sources."
This isn’t exactly a shock. Michaels has been propped up by polluters for years. What the article fails to mention is that the IREA initially paid Michaels without the knowledge or consent of its members.
"Intermountain is a rural electric cooperative," Binz said. "The customers are member-owners. Stan Lewandowski is basically spending other people's money."
The article also doesn't mention that Lewandowski’s letter included a “fact sheet” on climate change that blames “the influences of plate tectonics” for rising temperatures. But it does give this bizarre man plenty of room to kick up his heels:
"Where do we come about that somehow money that comes from the environmental groups is somehow sacred money and that's okay to support climatological research; and other money is not okay for that?" he said. "That's not the American way."
The author goes on to prettify Michaels’ work as a “consultant” and, more disturbingly, his status as a scientist:
According to Environmental Science department chair Joseph Zieman, Michaels has published material in peer-review journals that has generally taken a "middle-of-the-road" view on global warming….

Zieman also said he supports Michaels in his consulting work as well as in holding opinions on global warming that are outside the mainstream.

"Faculty members, as long as they are no [sic] manipulating data, are completely protected by academic freedom," Zieman said.
Well, Michaels cut off his study of satellite climate data at 1996. That certainly sounds like manipulation to me.

And as Tim Lambert also reports, a paper that Michaels claimed disproved global warming contained a fairly serious error. Michaels announced that the paper in question had survived “four years of one of the most rigorous peer reviews ever.” Unfortunately, not one of the magi who came to adore this miraculous offspring of Michaels and Ross McKitrick noticed that it confused degrees with radians, which meant that all its numbers were wrong.

Sourcewatch has more:
Dr. Tom Wigley, lead author of parts of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one of the world's leading climate scientists, was quoted in the book "The Heat is On" (Gelbspan, 1998, Perseus Publishing): "Michaels' statements on [the subject of computer models] are a catalog of misrepresentation and misinterpretation… Many of the supposedly factual statements made in Michaels' testimony are either inaccurate or are seriously misleading.”
The evidence that Michaels is incompetent, dishonest, or both is pretty goddamn overwhelming. Implying even tentatively that he's some sort of principled, respectable dissenter is indefensible, to my mind. His credibility should be taken off life support and allowed to die a natural death.

Should be, but won't be:
It seems that [notorious climate skeptic Pat] Michaels called [CNN Friday's Peter] Dykstra to complain that the network doesn't do enough to bring out the side of those who question the thesis that human industrial and transportation activity is warming the globe. Dykstra politely disagreed, but he was curious. So he took the time to look up all of the network's pieces on the topic.

The expert CNN quoted most? Dr. Patrick Michaels. By a factor of two.

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