Patrick Michaels Resigns

It was one year ago that City Councilor Kevin Lynch exposed UVa’s Patrick J. Michaels as fraudulently claiming to be Virginia State Climatologist. Now comes word that Michaels quietly resigned his position at the university this summer, Bob Gibson reports in today’s Daily Progress. Lynch’s reporting led to national coverage of Michaels’ conflict of interest (he received extensive funding from the energy industry while denying global climate change) and resulted in Governor Kaine’s request that he stop calling himself the state’s climatologist, since he held no such position. The 57-year-old Michaels has negotiated a retirement package with UVa, and will continue to hold a position as a part-time research professor…on leave.

22 thoughts on “Patrick Michaels Resigns”

  1. For a man who didn’t believe in global warming he certainly got in a lot of hot water. Kudos Kevin Lynch for ferreting out this sham. It’s really something

  2. This guy ought to start hanging out with Dr. Ricky, who also got full UVA retirement after his bout of malfeasance. In the private sector, your ass would be gone; no questions asked!

  3. Follow up in todays DP:

    The University of Virginia has handed the duties of the climatologist’s office, but not the title, to research coordinator Philip J. “Jerry” Stenger in the wake of climatologist Patrick J. Michaels’ quiet departure from the role, UVa officials said Wednesday.


  4. Hmmm..having worked at what I thought was the Virginia State Climatology Office for about 13 years, from 1986-1998, I now am a bit unsure how I should refer to this experience on my resume. Perhaps something like this: The-office-recognized-as-the-Virginia-State-Climatology-Office-by-the American-Association-of-State-Climatologists-and-the-National-Climatic-Data-Center-but-which Waldo-Jaquith-claims-that-Kevin-Lynch-exposed-as-being-fraudulently-named?

    I wonder how this may effect all of the climatological and meteorological data that I provided to state, county, city, university officials, tv, radio, newspaper reporters, lawyers, farmers, construction companies, wedding planners, extension agents, power companies, film crews, and just the everyday plain Janes and Joes who were interested in the weather. Perhaps someone ought to start an investigation.

    -Chip Knappenberger

  5. The-office-recognized-as-the-Virginia-State-Climatology-Office-by-the American-Association-of-State-Climatologists-and-the-National-Climatic-Data-Center-but-which Waldo-Jaquith-claims-that-Kevin-Lynch-exposed-as-being-fraudulently-named?

    I never stated or implied that the office was fraudulently named. I work for Virginia Quarterly Review, but I do not claim to be “Waldo Jaquith, The Quarterly Virginian.” Patrick Michaels worked for the Virginia State Climatology Office, but clearly there can be no question that he was not the State Climatologist.

  6. Pat Michaels was the Virginia State Climatologist. Plain and simple. If you choose to believe otherwise, that is your choice. But perhaps you should reread the first two paragraphs of Bob Gibson’s article you linked to, where twice, Dr. Michaels was referred to as serving in the role of state climatologist.


  7. The governor made crystal clear that his title was nothing more than a misleading nomenclature on the part of the university:

    Kaine “considers him a professor at the University of Virginia and the head of the Virginia State Climatology Office,” Skinner said Monday in response to inquiries about whether the governor would reappoint him as climatologist.


    “He doesn’t speak for the state. He doesn’t speak for the governor,” she said. “This is the University of Virginia having this particular faculty member head up their office of climatology.”

    And, just in case that wasn’t clear enough:

    The governor’s office has sent a letter to the University of Virginia requesting that Patrick J. Michaels not use his title of state climatologist when conducting his private consulting business.

    The state is concerned that the U.Va. professor’s controversial views on global warming could be mistaken for the state’s views…The governor’s office has repeatedly said that Michaels does not represent the state with his opinions about global warming.


    [The] letter also addressed the question of whether Michaels’ position as state climatologist is an appointment of the governor or of U.Va. Hanley does acknowledge that Michaels was originally appointed state climatologist by Gov. John Dalton in 1980.

    However, she said the code of Virginia “does not provide for the governor to appoint a state climatologist.”

    So, just to be recap, Michaels was a) faux appointed to this faux position in 1980 b) claiming to still be appointed to this nonexistent position ever since c) informed by Governor Kaine that this position does not exist and d) asked by Governor Kaine stop using the title “state climatologist” because he’s not any such thing.

    Again, clearly, there can be no question: Patrick Michaels was not State Climatologist.

  8. Waldo,

    The Virginia State Climatology Office and the Virginia State Climatologist were recognized under these guidelines:

    Notice that nowhere is there reference to any “state code” necessary to establish their existence. The Office and position was never meant to be a “policital” one, but rather simply an established qualified deliverer of climate information to the denizens of the Commonwealth. That is the capacity in which the State Climatology Office has and continues to serve, and the capacity in which Dr. Michaels served and was recognized as the role of Virginia State Climatologist.


  9. Chip, there are two conclusions that we can draw here:

    1. Dr. Michaels’ department, the university, President Casteen, Governor Kaine and the whole of the press are correct in their consistent understanding of the law over the past year. Dr. Michaels has also figured this out, what with his resignation.
    2. You know more about state law than everybody, including the governor, by virtue of having access to a URL that nobody else does, everybody else is wrong, and even Dr. Michaels didn’t have the good sense to realize this prior to leaving his job.

    I’m not sure that there’s much of a question as to which side approximately everybody has and will continue to pick here.

  10. What “puzzles” me about all of this is that we had a different, but ironic situation occur several months ago with the other side of the argument, with Dr. Hansen. As those who follows the issues know, Dr. Hansen (from NASA) and Dr Michaels have opposing views on climate change, and have engaged in regular debates.

    The Thomas Jefferson Center chose to issue their top muzzle award to the Bush Administration for purported actions in trying to muzzle the good doctor’s arguments about global warming, and the media ate it up. Never mind that Dr. Hansen’s views never had any trouble getting out to the public; never mind he had his own web site to express himself; never mind that the official position of the United States Government is the right of the President of the United States to express.

    So lets re-read the statement quoted above in the context of what is going on here: “The state is concerned that the UVA. professor’s controversial views on global warming could be mistaken for the state’s views. The governor’s office has repeatedly said that Michaels does not represent the state with his opinions about global warming.”

    So who is right on the issues of climate change? Most of us do not know the answer to that question. There is a debate, and we need all parties on both sides of the argument to engage in it. But the author, members of the City council and others prefer to go after the debater’s credentials, rather than listen to what he has to say. Too bad, I guess living the life of tunnel vision is easier..

  11. Patrick Michaels was never, ever prevented from publishing any of his findings. There was never any attempt (at least that anybody’s heard of) to prevent him from providing facts that run counter to the accepted doctrine. Nor was there any attempt to prevent him from giving his opinion. He was simply asked to stop pretending to hold a state title that he does not. He was not fired. He was not forced out. He resigned without any claim that it was under anything other than his own free will.

    Compare that to James Hansen. He wasn’t merely prevented from giving his opinion, he was prevented from giving the facts. There’s no parallel between the two.

    So who is right on the issues of climate change? Most of us do not know the answer to that question. There is a debate, and we need all parties on both sides of the argument to engage in it.

    No, there is not a debate. On the one side there are two guys, Bjorn Lomberg (not a climate scientist) and Patrick Michaels. Then there is the whole of the rest of science. That wasn’t the case twenty, ten, or even five years ago — as the science has gotten better and the potential errors eliminated, the truth has prevailed, as it always does in science.

    If I claim that black is white and up is down, is there a “debate”? No, of course: I’m just a lone nut. There’s no more a “debate” about the existence of man-made climate change than there is about whether black is white.

  12. Hmmm, only one scientist in the whole world is debating issues pertaining to climate change? Must be lonely out there for Patrick Michaels…, but at least you seem to agree he is a scientist. I do agree with you science will prevail. To get to the answers, one cannot stop asking questions and seek out a multitude of opinions.

    But lets see if Dr. Hansen has been prevented from giving facts or opinions on climate change. If that were the case, one could not find his research, one could not find out where he stood on the issues, in fact, nobody would know who he is. Try googling him, and see what you find. While you are at it, go to his NASA sponsored website. See the history of his publications:

    There is zero credibility to the argument that he has been muzzled. In my opinion, this is purely a publicity stunt and politically motivated sham.

  13. Randy, censorship is not when somebody is preventing from speaking at all. If I erased every one of your comments here, save for those that agreed with me, I would surely be limiting your expression on this site. It would be silly for me to point to all of the comments that you were allowed to post and cite that as evidence that I’m not limiting your expression here.

    More to the point, nobody disputes whether Hansen is being prevented from speaking about science policy matters. Everybody from the White House on down agrees with that. The only debate is whether preventing him from speaking to matters of science policy qualifies as censorship, and I wouldn’t really qualify that as a “debate.”

    For more, read the original New York Times article from January of 2006.

  14. Chip, it was Pat who politicized the office. What’s anazing is that he got away with using the title for so long in support of his outside activities, although I suppose the intercessionsby George Allen explain that. It looks as if it may not be a coincidence that their departures were synchronous.

    Randy, the key point is that Bush functionaries tried to censor Hansen. The fact that it completely backfired doesn’t mean the effort wasn’t made.

    Waldo, is there any chance that UVa has a policy requiring disclosure of outside income? Also, to your knowledge was Chip ever paid anything out of climatology office funds?

  15. Waldo, is there any chance that UVa has a policy requiring disclosure of outside income? Also, to your knowledge was Chip ever paid anything out of climatology office funds?

    I’m afraid that I know nothing about either of these things. Since Chip isn’t claiming to be the state climatologist, I’m not about to bother him. :)

  16. Thank you for that article, I had seen it before, and re-read it. There is a lot of finger pointing here, and to support my position, one only has to read the following:

    “Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. “That’s not the way we operate here at NASA,” Mr. Acosta said. “We promote openness and we speak with the facts.”

    He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.”

    Sound familiar? It should, we both cited similar sentiments earlier as it pertained to Governor Kaine’s position with respect to Patrick Michaels. Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t have the weight of the Media machine (or the Thomas Jefferson Center) out there to defend him; rather, this machine is out to discredit him. Too bad for science and the free expression of views.

  17. It’s important to note that the whole issue of Hansen being “silenced” by the Bush Administration which got so much press a few months back had its genesis in him receiving an e-mail from a 23 year-old NASA Public Affairs intern warning him over repeated violations of NASA’s official press policy. Now, unless you believe the intern in question was Karl Rove’s diabolical nephew placed at NASA to keep world-class scientists in line, it seems clear that the only person engaging in politics here was Hansen himself.

  18. Falstaff, apparently Karl Rove had lots and lots of siblings who were in turn quite prolific. You may rcall the Justice Department’s recent “Monica problem.” The same sort of thing happened at NOAA with regard to the hurricane-GW connection.

  19. Regarding the “fraudulent” claim to title, I note that “the governor’s office” recognizes Michaels’ title when “requesting that Patrick J. Michaels not use his title of state climatologist.”

    The entire effort is to sling mud at the man to avoid having to challenge his science.

    Ah well. His resignation is another win for climate alarmists, and a loss for UVA. Perhaps a new school motto is in order, “UVA, We’re nothing if we’re not politically correct.”

  20. Waldo,

    I am not sure what the *sighing* is about. I supposed that is your reaction when someone doesn’t agree with you. As I have pointed out in the above discussion, there is hardly anybody, save a few agenda-driven people, that don’t recognize the fact that Pat Michaels served in the role of Virginia State Climatologist for more than 25 years. When that title was no longer applicable, whether it was when Dr. Michaels resigned his position earlier this year, or whether it was when Gov. Kaine asked him not to use the title when speaking on climate change issues last year, may be unclear. But what is clear, is that Dr. Michaels served in that role for a long time.

    Did *you* read the material in the link I provided to the American Association of State Climatologist’s page describing the establishment procedures of state climatology offices under which the Virginia State Climatology Office and State Climatologist were recognized? I don’t think that this URL is only available to me, so I don’t know what you mean by “access to a URL that nobody else does.”

    And to Steve Bloom, as I clearly stated above in this discussion, I worked at the Virginia State Climatology Office, in some capacity, from 1986-1998. During which time, I did get paid by them, believe it or not.

    -Chip Knappenberger

  21. Michaels leaving has zero to do with anything other than money. The state is not going to fund the position any more and the department ain’t gonna pick up the ~$100K. Anyone with any experience of research positions at universities saw the handwriting on the wall a year ago. Pat was dead faculty walking as soon as Kaine said there was no such state position and there would be no further state funding.

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