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Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Andrew Revkin of the New York Times sold out to fossil-fuel interests

Dear Readers,

Some of you may be wondering why I stated that Andrew Revkin of the New York Times has sold out to the fossil-fuel interests.

Some of you may not be aware of the sordid history of Patrick Michaels, but Mr. Revkin is certainly very aware of it.

Please read below:

Patrick J. Michaels
From Logical Science

            Pat Michaels is one of the most prolific and widely quoted climate change skeptics.  He has frequently been called "Virginia's state climatologist" although the State of Virginia recently told him to stop using that title when conducting his private consulting business.  There is some controversy as to whether or not he is a state climatologist.  Michaels was originally appointed state climatologist by the former Governor John Dalton in 1980.  However Katherine K. Hanley, the secretary of the commonwealth, said the code of Virginia "does not provide for the governor to appoint a state climatologist."   According to the Daily Progress the current Governor Timothy M. Kaine’s office says Michaels "holds an honorary position and does not speak for the state or the governor" and he "is not subject to gubernatorial appointment - or political removal from office."

Climate Model Scandal #1:  (Mis)informing Congress:

        The following is one of several reasons why numerous people refer to Pat Michaels as a "fraud, and simple".  On June 23, 1988 James Hansen testified in front of congress on global warming.   Hansen said he could state "with 99% confidence" that a long-term warming trend was underway, and he strongly suspected that the greenhouse effect was to blame. He provided the following graph as part of his Congressional testimony on global warming:

Hansen's Original 1988 Graph

Hansen and Lebedeff, 1988

This graph showed 3 scenarios.  Scenario A, B, and C were based on different levels of CO2 output.  Scenario A has a fast growth rate for greenhouse gases and fossil fuel use. Scenarios B and C have a moderate growth rate for greenhouse gases.  However scenarios C's growth would peak at the year 2000.   The objective was to illustrate the broad range of possibilities of how CO2 forcings would actually develop.  It's simply too difficult to predict how much coal humans will burn.

          Fast forwarding 10 years, Hansen updated his graph with the most recent temperature measurements.  The temperature measurements are in red.  Hansen's predictions were very accurate.   The growth rate of greenhouse gases in the period 1988-1998 has been relatively linear, very similar to scenarios B and C (which are nearly the same until year 2000).1  However, when Pat Michaels testified in front of Congress he erased scenarios B and C of Hansen's graph.  Climate blogger Coby Beck claims Pat Michaels "lied by omission".  Professor Tim Lambert prefers to use stronger words "fraud, pure and simple" on his blog.  Nobody can know with absolute certainty what is going on in anyone's mind.  However, the facts are that Pat Michaels not only erased what Hansen stated would be the most likely scenario, but he had also erased the two most accurate scenarios.

Hansen's Graph Updated
Pat Michaels Portrayal of Hansen's graph.

Hansen et al, 1998
Pat Michaels testimony

[Readers, here is Hansen's graph updated with actual temperatures through 2006, compliments of Eli Rabett's blog, Rabett Run (]:
Click to enlarge, please.

The Committe on small business doesn't have online records prior to 2001.  However, Pat Michaels testimony is hosted at the CATO institute.  For an analysis of how Hansen's graph is performing using the most up to date info, please goto Professor Rabett's blog entry "Well lookee that...."or visit Logical Science's analysis.

Pat Michaels Messes Up Basic Math and Declares Victory

In 2004 Patrick Michaels in the journal Climate Research.  In a TCS Daily article "Settling Global Warming Science" he wrote: 

After four years of one of the most rigorous peer reviews ever, Canadian Ross McKitrick and another of us (Michaels) published a paper searching for "economic" signals in the temperature record. McKitrick, an economist, was initially piqued by what several climatologists had noted as a curiosity in both the U.N. and satellite records: statistically speaking, the greater the GDP of a nation, the more it warms. The research showed that somewhere around one-half of the warming in the U.N. surface record was explained by economic factors, which can be changes in land use, quality of instrumentation, or upkeep of records.

The problem with this paper which has undergone one of the "most rigorous peer reviews ever" is that Patrick Michaels messed up some really basic math.  Patrick Michaels confused degrees with the much larger radians.  If you understand highschool level trigonometry then you should be able to follow this tutorial and discover the blunder yourself.  This error has been discussed in blogs by Prof. Tim Lambert, John Quiggin and the peer reviewed paper Benestad (2004).  In 2005 Michaels published an errata (CR 27, 265-268 ) which admitted the mistake.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the peer review process at the journal Climate Research has failed. Oddly enough, the other paper also attempted to cast doubt on anthropogenic global warming. Both papers were reviewed by the controversial Chris de Frietas.    The year before Pat Michaels' paper was published, the chief editor and 3 additional editors had resigned in protest because the  "review process had utterly failed".   Much more on this topic can be found at Realclimate here and here.  Given the history of the journal and the fact that he botched up some basic math, Pat Michaels' statement of "four years of one of the most rigorous peer reviews ever" is a little out of place.

The final sentence of the TCS Daily article says:

The science is settled. The "skeptics" -- the strange name applied to those whose work shows the planet isn't coming to an end -- have won.

Since then National Academy of Sciences of 11 countries signed a statement  saying “Climate Change is real” and we need "to take prompt action to reduce the causes of climate change".  Naomi Oreskes has read the abstracts of every single one of the 928 scientific papers containing the words "global climate change" from 1993 to 2003.  None of them disagreed the existence of human driven climate change. For a complete rundown of the consensus please go here.

Funding and Conflicts of Interest

             In 1995 Harpers Magazine author Ross Gelbspan reported that Pat Michaels has received more than $115,000 from coal and energy interests.  In 2006 a leaked memo from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) details payments of at least $100,000 and the soliciting of more money for Michaels et al. from other coal outlets.  Pat Michaels is also a Visiting Scientist with the George C. Marshall Institute and a Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies with the Cato Institute.  Both of which receive funding from Exxon Mobil and other oil interests.

The Anonymous Climate Model

On Gavin Schmidt claims Pat Michaels twists scientific evidence on his blog World Climate Report.  Pat Michaels claims uses specific areas of Southern Greenland to debunk the climate models due to the lack of warming in that specific region.  The problem is that he doesn't specify which climate model he's "debunking".  To make matters even more confusing all the climate models listed on the public database at PCMDI do not predict warming in Southern Greenland.  So one has to wonder if Pat Michaels created a fake climate model just to debunk it.  Access to the models is free and registration is merely a formality.  Feel free to analyze the models yourself and compare them to Pat Michaels's claims.
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