Denier Pat Michaels: “It Is Doubtful That Irene Will Even Cough Up Eight Bodies”

Patrick Michaels Add callousness to the list of credits for long-wrong climate science denier Patrick Michaels.

On Friday, Michaels, of the pro-pollution Cato Institute, attacked the supposed ‘hype’ around Hurricane Irene and predicted on

As TP Green noted last night:

Unfortunately, Michaels’ optimism that the threat of Hurricane Irene was just “hype” was wrong. The American death toll is already 9 lives, as the massive storm tears its way up the Eastern seaboard. Irene had already killed two people in the Caribbean.

Michaels later changed it to “and hopefully kill fewer than the eight people who died in Gloria,” but the original text at remains the same.

Of course, Michaels, who said last year Big Oil funds some 40% of his work, has long been a fountain of nonsense (see Scientific American editor slams science denier Patrick Michaels for misusing their unscientific online poll).

That’s why when Michaels went up against someone who really knows what he’s talking about, like climatologist Ben Santer, it’s a true mismatch.  Here is the video of last year’s smack down on the Hill, courtesy of Climate Decrocker Peter Sinclair:


Why does anyone listen to the never-right Michaels?

26 Responses to Denier Pat Michaels: “It Is Doubtful That Irene Will Even Cough Up Eight Bodies”

  1. Lou Grinzo says:

    I have to admit that this Michaels quote surprised me. I thought it was impossible for any denier to be more loathsome than Fred Singer. I stand corrected.

    (For those who haven’t read it, please see Merchants of Doubt for copious detail about Singer’s decades of misinformation exploits regarding smoking, climate change, and practically every intersection of science and public policy in between.)

  2. John Tucker says:

    I think the big problem with the article is its basically pointless. Up till Friday there were varying estimates of Irene’s strength and the height of the tidal surge as well as where it would first go ashore not to mention the rather complex and unpredictable nature of hurricanes.

    If he wanted to come out earlier in the week and present his Irene death model for critique he should of had the courage to do so then, when it mattered, not at 10:14PM on Friday. As is the only real failure with respect to total inability to predict intensity and resulting casualties that would result in any thing constructive, is his.

  3. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    So are hurricanes now moving onto the list of polemic topics along with CO2 and polar bears? Forms of hurricane denial can’t be too far away–e.g. they’re not that bad, they’re natural, they’re good for you, etc.

  4. John Tucker says:

    This line in his build up:

    “Last April 27, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 41 died because they disregarded a weather warning.”

    – thats totally incorrect. The whole premise for the article is pointless innuendo. Even the capital weather gang who he is so enamored with doesn’t share that opinion ( )

    Surely also it doesn’t take a senior fellow at the cato “institute” to realize there might be a market for hurricane information during a hurricane and the American profit driven media might be inclined to meet that demand.

    Its really difficult to believe he has a PhD in science.

  5. Lionel A says:

    I had already figured Michaels as a Singer beater on the ‘odious’ scale.

    Perhaps we should have a campaign to remind the,

    ’99 percent of Americans who don’t know what’s comming if greenhouse gas emissions keep going straight up…’

    as Joe wrote ‘Straight-Up’ page 7, about the campaign of deceit in which the likes of Michaels has been involved and why nearly four years after this November 17, 2007 ClimateProgress article,

    Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate Over, Further Delay Fatal, Action Not Costly

    there is still argument about human induced climate change.

    Perhaps a wall-of-shame can be constructed displaying the images of all those past and present who have been involved in putting profit and self interest above the future of an hospitable planet.

    Perhaps there could be special categories such as:

    Corporate financiers,

    Think tanks and astroturf groups,

    Scientists gone rogue emeritus,

    Confused Congressional Representatives (if only about who they represent), look at the history of Rohrabacher for one and then there is Joe Barton (that Wegman affair should be highlighted) and the current southern ‘comedy’ duo of Perry and Inhofe,

    media opinion writers (I rather like Delingpole’s invention of ‘interpreters of interpretations’ as a title for this one).

    I recently started revisiting Straight-Up and others like Merchants of Doubt, Climate Cover-Up again and think that as many visitors to CP are unlikely ever to read these then maybe they can be reminded, or appraised of the long history of denial here.

    We should not allow the antics of the likes of Western Fuels along with Fred Palmer, Sherwood Idso and Michaels himself in the dangerous propaganda that the likes of Greening Earth Society pumped out be forgotten.

    And that is by no means the worst example. John Mashey has built up a stunning web of links between the groups listed and there is plenty of material published to draw upon from which to create accurate and brief ‘hit’ phrases for campaign purposes.

    Also many visitors to CP may be too young to realise that even twenty years ago enough science was known to understand what the future CO2 and climate projections were likely to be. James Hansen and others aside, Roger Revell had it for one and that leads to another can of denial worms involving Singer & Co.

    That there is still argument is testament to the effectiveness of the climate criminals. They should be outed and prominently so. So that the American people can understand who mislead them. And it wasn’t the true climate scientists.

    I had intended to add these thoughts to the ‘What Topics Would You Like Climate Progress to Cover?’ thread but this seems an apt moment.

  6. Next denialist meme:
    Record-breaking deluges are great news: Water is plant food!

  7. Doug Bostrom says:

    Not to swerve too far off-topic, but Michaels immediately makes me think of the increasingly pernicious Competitive Enterprise Institute. Here’s the latest example of their war on the rest of us:

    Do We Really Need a National Weather Service?

    I think the problem CEI has with the NWS may be its relative incorruptibility when it comes to the data they capture. Such things as nightly minimum temperatures are a real problem when it comes to conveying doubt. Failing that semi-conspiratorial hypothesis, perhaps they’ve just been stupefied by their own ideology.

    Would be nice to see a guest post by Jeff Masters addressing CEI’s opinion, particularly as the CEI piece suggests that Wunderground and its ilk are a substitute for the NWS.

  8. muoncounter says:

    Unfortunately, the normally rational Howard Kurtz has picked this ball up and is running away with it.

    But the apocalypse that cable television had been trumpeting had failed to materialize. And at 9 a.m., you could almost hear the air come out of the media’s hot-air balloon of constant coverage when Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm. …
    Hurricanes are unpredictable, and it’s a great relief that the prophets of doom were wrong about Hurricane Irene. But don’t expect the cable networks to downgrade their coverage the next time a tropical storm gathers strength.

    No, Howie. Tropical storms are dangerous (see: Allison). Hurricanes aren’t ‘predictable’ — but this one rode its forecast track very closely. Local and state governments in the forecast path did exactly as they should have in advance of the storm: Prepare. And maybe that saved some lives.

    We need the coverage of Gov. Christie and Mayor Bloomberg telling people to stay home. What we don’t need are the Michaels and Kurtzs of the world playing Monday morning quarterback, trivializing the situation — before it is even halfway over. We’ve seen that movie before; it was called Katrina and it didn’t end well.

  9. Leland Palmer says:

    Well, sea surface temperatures are high, in the 80-88 degree F range. A couple of tropical depressions have just formed off the coast of North Africa. One is given a 10% chance of becoming a hurricane, and the other is given a 40% chance.

    Sea surface temperature anomalies are running 1 to 2 degrees C above the average (from the period 1978 to the present, I think) all along the track of any hurricane forming off the coast of North Africa and heading in our direction. The Gulf of Mexico is particularly warm, approaching 3 degrees above average.

    NOAA Sea Surface Anomaly August 25,2011 (Scroll down to the latest map and click on “Full Global”)

    So, we’ll see. Certainly sea surface temperatures are high.

    About Michael’s “40%” number for fossil fuel corporation funding, likely that does not include his salaries from the Cato Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Very likely that figure also does not include revenues for his PR firm New Hope Environmental Services unless that money comes directly from fossil fuel corporations. So if Michaels had a contract with the Cato Institute, funded by the Kochs, it would probably not be included in the 40% figure.

    Where does his funding come from? Directly or indirectly, it has to come from corporate or private entities which have an interest in funding global warming disinformation. Some of it is likely laundered through think tanks and foundations, but the ultimate source for just about all of it must be the fossil fuel industries. What other funding sources would be willing to pay for disinformation?

    Sourcewatch has some good info on Michaels.

  10. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Patrick Michaels tell the lies that people want to hear. He is telling us all that “no our bum does not look big in that”

    Unfortunately the consequences of believing his lies are more than a little more serious.

    New York new that Irene would weaken. Had it weakened a little slower, the timing a little different the results would have been very different. It was still a very near miss.

  11. Lionel A says:

    Invest 92 being one of those perhaps?

    As seen on this:

    GFS Ensemble Computer Model Hurricane Forecasts

    with a world view here:

    Active Tropical Storm Advisories

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Anthropogenic climate destabilisation denial is an almost exclusively Rightwing phenomenon.Not just politically and ideologically, but in what lies behind those surface phenomena. I mean in the mind and the soul, where the Rightist simply does not care what happens to others. He is callously indifferent to the suffering of others (therefore ‘coughs up bodies’)lacks human empathy and cares only for his own interests. ‘Hell is other people’, who are the competition, the enemy or various types of property (families, employees etc). This attitude slips out, quite subconsciously, all the time, and is edited out when embarrassing. Here in Austraya we have bumper crops of Michaels and all other types of Rightwingers, all misanthropes, all spiritually callous, all prepared to do anything to advance their ‘dog eat dog’, and ‘winner takes all’ worldview. They are concentrated around Murdoch’s Evil Empire, News Corpse, and dominate public discourse, having taken over the ABC, the national broadcaster, under John Howard. Even so they never cease howling about ‘leftwing bias’, where real Leftwingers were purged entirely from the public domain at least twenty years ago. But the totalitarian drive, the lust to dominate completely and to expunge any contrary view, simply grows more intense, particularly now that the world system they created is crumbling into the mire, having met, head on, ecological, physical, chemical and biological realities that cannot be intimidated, bought off or suppressed. From now on we must expect the denialists to grow even more vicious, threatening and violent. With luck it will be the last, frenetic, death-throes of an entirely malignant ideology.

  13. Pythagoras says:

    When I first saw this testimony, I was surprised that no one called out Michaels on this testimony. If you believe Santer’s testimony, it says one of two things, either:

    1) Pat Michaels is deliberately attempting to mis-represent the science by excluding the effects of sulfate aerosols on the observed warming trends, or,

    2) Pat Michaels has such a poor grasp of the science that he doesn’t understand the effects of sulfate aerosols.

    The effect of sulfate aerosols on global warming is so basic to the science–it is the reason that there was observed cooling after the Mount Pinatubo eruption, and it is being touted as a method of geo-engineering–that I for one can only assume the former explanation.

    After watching this again, it becomes clear in Michael’s reaction that he knows that he has been caught in the lie–which is why he asks for questions to be provided on the subject after the hearing.

    And in case you’re interested, committee chair Representative Brian Baird (D-WA) did not run for re-election from his district and was replaced by Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) whose previous job was legislative assistant to Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA). Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) was steam-rolled in a primary challenge by global-warming denier Trey Gowdy. Both Herrera and Gowdy signed the Americans For Prosperity (AFP) pledge for no climate tax. And with both AFP and CATO Institute (Michaels) being funded by the Kochs, it is apparent the winning the battle on the validity of the science is not nearly as important as winning the political battles.

  14. Steve Funk says:

    This is a peculiar item on which to attack Michaels. He was wrong on the body count but right about this hurricane. It was weaker than expected.

  15. John Tucker says:

    Well if nothing else hes proved conclusively you shouldn’t critique a crisis before its over. Especially not retroactively as in that attempt. As we move above 20 deaths a situation in Vermont is unfolding that appears to be quite severe for some and perhaps not prepared for enough.

    Vt.’s Emergency Command Center Evacuated ( )

  16. John Mason says:

    I followed the unfolding story of Irene in several places, including the UK Guardian, which has increasingly become a target for trolls once anything to do with severe weather, climate is mentioned. At one point on Saturday the silly comments were literally avalanching in.

    I did try making the point that it might be better to assess the storm’s overall impact AFTER it had moved on through, but I guess that people thought I was just being a spoilsport!!

    Severe flooding was always likely to be the most widespread adverse effect, and the grim news from Vermont tends to bear that out.

    Cheers – John

  17. Lionel A says:

    Pythagoras thank you for that update on the political fates of Baird and Inglis and their replacement by conservative hard liners. As an outsider (UK) I am not always aware of such events, events deleterious to the future of most Americans and we in the rest of the world. Having watched that Science Commission Congressional Hearing right through several times last year I was wondering how long Inglis would last.

    I fear that before any substantive changes in energy policy can be made then the American people must claw back their political system from the clutches of the likes of Beutler and Gowdy.

    Giving the likes of Michaels enough rope to hang themselves doesn’t seem to work to well but may do if the American people were repeatedly reminded of the obvious deceit.

  18. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Lionel A

    I think they’re calling the “40% chance” tropical depression mentioned in my first post TD Twelve (Tropical Depression 12) on Justweather. It looks like they are forecasting a potential category two hurricane by Saturday. It looks like maybe TD Twelve and Invest 92 are the same storm, with different names.

    Wunderground model intensity for Invest 92

    The “10% chance” tropical depression doesn’t seem to be doing much, and I couldn’t find a name for it. It’s located north and slightly west of TD Twelve/ Invest 92.

  19. Leland Palmer says:

    Oh, I guess Invest 92 became Tropical Depression 12, when it strengthened. It is forecast to become Tropical Storm Katia later in the day:

  20. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    News this morning says that at least 20 people were killed in the U.S. due to the hurricane. Pat Michaels wrong again. I presume his claims that global warming won’t be all that bad are based upon the same kind of analysis he did for the hurricane?

  21. Lionel A says:

    Huh! That GFS Ensemble link that I used now brings up a map without a track.

    Thanks for the update and link to sky7weather now we know that it came From the Atlantic (Hah!) but what’s in a tpyo.

  22. Lionel A says:

    OK. Now showing up on this:

    Invest 92/TD 12

    and here:

    Progressing to a Cat2

  23. Joe Romm says:

    You haven’t been paying attention to the deluge. This was a devastating storm.

  24. Pangolin says:

    What? We’re making policy decisions on Climate Change based upon the number of bodies piled up by various factors? Since when?

    Based upon that basic assertion nobody would ever be allowed to drive an automobile since the deaths nationally number in the thousands monthly. Following that logic we should try to increase the number of hurricanes since it reduces motor-vehicle accident deaths.

    The damage caused by hurricanes is real and encompasses more than a simply body count. The actual economic costs in terms of lost property, business and infrastructure is far from being accurately counted; even in New York City.

  25. muoncounter says:

    After Hurricane Andrew, wind speed became the most reported statistic; it determines the Saffir-Simpson category and Accumulated Cyclone Energy. These neglect the moisture content and therefore downplay the impact of intense precipitation events. TS Allison would be low on these scales, but it sure dumped a lot of rain and did a lot of damage. When Ike made landfall at Galveston, it was only cat 2; yet it remains the 2nd most costliest Atlantic storm (until now). So those who downplay Irene as a minimal hurricane are simply all wet.