INTERVIEW: Dr. Patrick Michaels
Dr. Patrick Michaels is a Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. He has been the State Climatologist for Virginia since 1980, and has been at the forefront of the global warming denial movement.
He is also associated with two think tanks: a Visiting Scientist with the George C. Marshall Institute and a Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies with the Cato Institute.
Writing in Harpers Magazine in 1995, author Ross Gelbspan noted that "Michaels has received more than $115,000 over the last four years from coal and energy interests. World Climate Review, a quarterly he founded that routinely debunks climate concerns, was funded by Western Fuels."
His most recent book is called Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media.
Bob McKeown: LET ME READ A COUPLE OF QUOTES TO YOU AND JUST GET YOUR RESPONSE TO THE ESSENTIAL MESSAGE OF THESE. FIRST ONE, “SCIENTIFIC UNCERTAINTY IS NO REASON TO DELAY TAKING APPROPRIATE ACTION. GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE IS A SERIOUS ISSUE AND THE CURRENT LACK OF SCIENTIFIC, ECONOMIC AND TECHNICAL CERTAINTY IS NOT A REASON FOR INACTION.” HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO THAT MESSAGE?
Dr. Patrick Michaels: That depends upon the level of scientific uncertainty and what our knowledge is. I would argue that...
Bob McKeown: GIVEN WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS ISSUE WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT STATEMENT?
Dr. Patrick Michaels: I have to answer it in more depth than a sound bite. What I know about this issue is that the family of our climate models produces linear warming. We have a linear warming and it's at the low end of the range. And therefore that gives you much more time. It gives you time to invest and do things. That's all I can tell you. Those are the only facts I have at my disposal to answer your question.
Bob McKeown: LET ME TRY ANOTHER ONE HERE. “REPUTABLE SCIENCE CANNOT BE IGNORED. THE SCIENCE ISN'T COMPLETE BUT SCIENCE IS NEVER COMPLETE. PRECAUTIONARY ACTION IS NECESSARY IF WE ARE TO AVOID THE GREATER RISK OF THE EVIDENCE MOUNTING TO THE POINT WHERE DRACONIAN ACTION IS UNAVOIDABLE.”
Dr. Patrick Michaels: That's an argument called the precautionary principle. If we believed in the precautionary principle we wouldn't have an automobile. We wouldn't have vaccines. We wouldn't have antibiotics. I think more alternative argument is that a society that is in fact going to "do something" is going to do it anyway because it's going to become more efficient.