Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Global Warming Rhetoric Heats Up in Charlottesville

"UVa climatologist sparks constroversy"

By Carlos Santos, Media General News Service, The Daily Progress, August 2, 2006

Patrick J. Michaels may be the state climatologist, but his private scientific findings and fundings are his own business, his University of Virginia department chairman says.

Michaels does private research, including that on global warmin, outside his duties as a UVa professor and state climatologist, Jay Zieman, the chairman of UVa's environmental sciences department, said Tuesday.

Michaels, who has been the state climatologist since 1980, has come under fire after news reports said a Colorado utility raised at least $150,000 in donations and pledges to help him analyze other scientists' global warming research. The Intermountain Rural Electric Association of Sedalia, Colo., gave Michaels $100,000 and started the fundraising drive.

UVa professors are allowed 52 days a year for private consultant work, Zieman said.


The state climatologist's office was run by the federal government in Blacksburg until it was discontinued in 1973. UVa revived the office in 1977, when [Bruce P.] Hayden was appointed by Gov. John Dalton to be the acting state climatologist until Michaels was recruited for the job.


"UVa Prof Takes Money from Utilities", July 28, 2006

Comment #37 by Blair Hawkins:

cvillenative Says:

(1) the President of the American Ass. for the Advancement of Science states “The fact is that the drumbeat of science and people’s perspectives are in line that the climate is changing.” –Cvillity

(2) Know what else is a theory? Gravity. And any physicist who argues that it doesn’t exist should be fired. –Waldo

(3) Aside from the ethical debate of whether a scientist should accept money from an interest group — cvillenewser

(4) Nobody claimed scientists are public officers.– Waldo

(5) KevinLynch Says:
(A)I am surprised that anyone living in this area for the past 5 years believes Michaels has any credibility as a ‘climatologist’, after the drought of 2002. That drought was the worst on record and was 4 years in the making, however up until the end of 2001 Michaels denied that there was any drought. He changed his tune sometime in the Spring of 2002 when it was plainly obvious that the reservoirs had not recharged over the winter. By then, we were running something like a 30 inch rainfall deficit over 4 years.

(B)As far as Michaels taking money from the power companies, of course its an issue. He’s not just a random Envi Sci prof trying to bring in a little extra grant money for his department - He’s the State Climatologist. Does anyone think it would be a conflict if the head of the State ABC board was being paid 150K to do ‘research’ for the alcohol lobby to support the thesis that underage drinking is not really a problem and shoudnt be discouraged?

(C)The Office of the State Climatologist is part of UVA’s Department of Environmental Sciences. It has a line in the State budget but I cant figure out under what authority he was appointed. Maybe Blair knows. Maybe no one knows, which would possibly explain why he hasnt been replaced with a credible scientist by now.

[and more recently]

(D)There are a couple of other interesting questions that Jack raised earlier – Namely: How does one get to be State Climatologist and is it a lifetime appointment? Seems like valid questions and I’ve made a number of inquiries over the past two days to try to answer them. The short answer is no one seems to really know.

Can anybody guess what I’m going to say? We see the liberal play book right here.

(1) How dare you question authority? How dare you disagree with what the majority has concluded? If you have 2 authorities competing (Assoc of Science and state climatologist of Virginia) side with the position that has greater funding, larger majority, or the one you feel more comfortable with.

(2) Waldo’s not watching enough History or Learning Channel. Newton himself,
responding to scientific critics of his day, confessed he had no idea what gravity is. To this very day, nobody knows. Newton’s equations are scientific only in that they predict behavior, but not why. We call it gravity, but that’s just another way of saying it follows Newton’s Laws. Dark matter is an example of the faith we place in science.

Instead of accepting the possibility that the Gravitation equation might not be exactly the same across the expanse of the universe, we’d rather imagine invisible, unmeasurable stuff so that the equation works out.

(3) Why is it ethical to accept public funds? How is the government not an interest group? What if Michaels accepted money/salary from a non-profit group or the government and used it to pay his mortgage and whatever? How would this not be a conflict of interest influencing him to arrive at conclusions that keep the $$$ coming to buy a new car?

(4) How is a public scientist different from a private scientist? How is it that one is naturally ethical and the other assumed to be a greedy charlatan?

(5)(A) Kevin is revising history and basing his claim that ‘02 was the worst drought ever because a government agency (RWSA) said so. (how dare you question authority?) Since Kevin is a government authority, should we take his word? Actually the reserviors did recharge over the winter ‘01-’02 magically and without any rain. According to the Virginia Climate Advisory and the precipitation records from McCormick Observatory (which I have in an Excel spreadsheet thanks to Mr. Stenger in the climatology office) ‘99-’02 is not the worst drought on record. Proclaiming a dire emergency and scaring the public allowed the gov’t to impose water restrictions, but they had to raise the trigger from 65% of capacity in ‘01 to 70% in ‘02 because still the drought was not as bad as just 25 years before when those guidelines were developed. [And the trigger for mandatory restriction in '00 was 60% acording to RWSA director Arthur Petrini at the Sierra Club forum for council candidates in 2000.]

Michaels never changed his tune. In ‘02 he said the drought was worse than in ‘01, ‘00, and ‘99. Michaels never said it was the worst drought on record, because it’s not.

(B) Here’s another analogy: What if you were paid $150K by ABC to do ‘research’ to support or oppose a new bill that ABC proposed? Would that influence the scientific results? How is accepting public funds not an inherent conflict of interest?

(C) I don’t know for sure but I think the Governor appoints the State Climatologist who serves at his pleasure. Michaels served under Democratic and Republican administrations. He could have been replaced anytime in his 26-year career, much as his predecessor Bruce Hayden was replaced for not handling the drought of 1977 very well or the following years which saw record cold and energy rationing in Virginia.

(D) Ah, no one seems to know the answer to your question. That seems to be going around.

Here are the facts. No need to demonize me or call me names. My skin has become rather thick in the last 6 years of speaking truth to power. What liberals hate the most– a minority point of view.

The Last Drought: Has Time Stood Still for 25 Years? Sep 3, 2002

Drought Perspective Sep 18, 2002

The Witness Report This newsletter from Aug ‘01 to Apr ‘01 was inspired in part to document the disparity between government pronouncements and the reality of the drought-water issue.

I have already been keeping CvilleNews junkies informed with scientific information on water supply and drought issues. Except my truth is invisble to the supreme arrogance that allows Waldo to substitute ad hominem attacks for scientific arguments, all for the purpose of furthering his agenda and providing a smoke screen to hide his ignorance, and inability to separate a person’s status from the content of his conscience. Imagine a world you treat those who disagree with you the same as those in agreement. Ah, that would not be Cville.

Excerpt from
my report on the city council meeting 7-17-06.

“Then followed Mayor David Brown’s “Climate Protection Agreement.” The Council voted unanimously to support the ideas contained in the 12-point document. The resolution has no legal weight and expresses only Council’s opinion. However, resolutions often precede legislation in the process of incrementalism.

Despite the speakers earlier and large crowd of environmentalists, some with hand-held signs, no one explained how global warming and man-made warming are the same thing. No one explained how the ending of the current ice age is not normal, or how man caused the 9,800 years of warming prior to the industrial revolution and age of fossil fuels, or the billion year warm period prior to the present 3 million year cycle of ice ages. However, Al Gore’s propaganda film “An Inconvenient Truth” was mentioned.”

Comment #40 by Waldo Jaquith, the site's adminstrator:

According to the AP, Prof Michaels is not just taking power company money -
he is soliciting it - for a clear purpose.

Oh, damn.

Pat, Pat, Pat.

Being attacked by Blair Hawkins is like being called a Zionist by Mel Gibson. I can’t wait to start being woven into his conspiracy theories — looks like it may have started already. It takes me back to the good old days when he tried to run for House of Delegates, but just couldn’t get his act together.

The same story on Jaquith's personal blog:

Hawkins' comment:

Waldo, are you running a myth factory? Or is it a religious crusade? Laid off but still gets a paycheck? I guess that proves he’s an impostor, or that public funding is worse than the bankroll from the utilities. Where’s your credibility? Where’s the love? Where’s the tolerance for diversity?

UVa Prof Takes Money from Utilities See comment 37 for a quick rebuttal of the character assassination and inuendo practiced by Waldo and Kevin.

Jaquith's response:

Jack, the person who posted that is Blair. He’s the sketchy, unshaven, wild-eyed guy who used to stand outside of Council chambers after meetings and push copies of his mimeographed conspiracy theory sheet, “The Witness Report,” accusing Councilors of working with the Illuminati to take away private property rights to give them to the space aliens.

He’s also the guy who tried to get the Republican nomination for the House of Delegates a few years ago, to the shame and horror of local Republicans. It turned out he was too incompetent to even file the paperwork, though that didn’t keep him from, bizarrely, trying to get the nomination anyhow.

I imagine he’s upset that he didn’t spot this particular conspiracy theory first such that he could include Masons and Mitch Van Yahres into an otherwise-reasonable accusation. It’s tough being crazy, I guess.

Hawkins' response:

Thanks for the feedback. I didn’t see anywhere a mention of global warming or anything weather related or scientific. Oh, did you mention, I also kill puppies and eat babies while I’m not playing devil’s advocate. I’ve never called Mitch a bad name. I simply pointed out his record (the only bad thing I could find) and acknowledged that he believed in his heart what he was doing was and is the right thing to do, results be damned. I realize many people prefer candidates to be unopposed when they run for elected office. What we have here is a clash of cultures, and hatred of one toward the other. Guess which one.
Other Links:

"Public Disservice, Melting Myths" by Patrick Michaels, July 27, 2006

Articles about global warming on


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