In a telling exchange with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria yesterday, long-time polluter apologist Pat Michaels admitted that “40 percent” of his funding comes from the oil industry. Michaels, introduced as “a scientist who now works for the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank that strongly opposes caps to carbon dioxide,” has promoted global warming denial for decades, funded by a network of oil and coal companies and their ideological allies. Michaels initially denied that he is funded by the petroleum industry, but backtracked under steady interrogation by Zakaria:
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you what people wonder about, advocates like you. They say —
MICHAELS: I’m advocating for efficiency.
ZAKARIA: Right. But people say that you’re advocating also for the current petroleum-based industry to stand pat, to stay as it is, and that a lot of your research is funded by these industries.
MICHAELS: Oh, no, no. First of all, what I’m saying is —
ZAKARIA: Well, is your research funded by these industries?
MICHAELS: Not largely. The fact of the matter is —
ZAKARIA: Can I ask you what percentage of your work is funded by the petroleum industry?
MICHAELS: I don’t know. 40 percent? I don’t know.
As the Wonk Room reports, Zakaria also calmly made a mockery of Michaels’ advocacy of doing nothing as the world burns, while fellow guest Jeffrey Sachs plainly described the “catastrophic planet” we are creating by burning billions of tons of fossil fuels every year.
George Scoville, Manager of New Media at the Cato Institute, contacted ThinkProgress to distance his think tank from Michaels’ oil money:
We are proud to have Pat Michaels and his research associated with the Cato Institute. However, Pat works for Cato on a contract basis, not as a full-time employee. Funding that Pat receives for work done outside the Cato Institute does not come through our organization. Kindly note that we receive less than 1% of all operating income from private corporations.
The Cato Institute was founded with the oil fortune of Charles Koch, a right-wing billionaire who denies the threat of global warming pollution. The 200 top individual contributors include Charles and his brother David Koch, who also contribute through their Charles Lambe Foundation. Cato also receives contributions from oil magnate Phillip Anschutz’s foundation.