Patrick Michaels Update

The clearest explanation yet of why Patrick Michaels resigned as state climatologist comes in this story from the Washington Post (my emphasis below):

“I resigned as Virginia state climatologist because I was told that I could not speak in public on my area of expertise, global warming, as state climatologist,” Michaels said in a statement this week provided by the libertarian Cato Institute, where he has been a fellow since 1992. “It was impossible to maintain academic freedom with this speech restriction.”

I have yet to see anyone contradict this account.

First question: Who told Michaels not to speak in public about global warming? Someone in the University of Virginia? Someone in the Governor’s Office?

Second question: Where are the protectors of academic freedom? If the situation had been ideologically reversed, if, say, the state climatologist used his office as a platform to promote awareness of Global Warming and, say, Gov. George Allen had silenced him, would there not be an uproar? Of course there would. Is “Academic freedom” in Virginia reserved for those with whom the academic elites happen to agree?

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9 responses to “Patrick Michaels Update”

  1. Groveton Avatar


    Aren’t these the two key paragraphs from the article:

    Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) testified before a Senate panel Wednesday about the impact of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay. Kaine and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said their states have implemented programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, largely accepted by scientists as a prime source of global warming.

    Michaels has argued that the climate is becoming warmer but that the consequences will not be as dire as others have predicted. Kaine had warned Michaels not to use his official title in discussing his views.”.

    Global warming puts a lot more power in the hands of politicians. If you believe that the impact of global warming will be less than expected then you lessen the politicians’ argument for more power (to tax, regulate, etc).

    Kaine’s busy testifying at Congress – he can’t abide some scientist saying that the problem may not be as big a deal as the governor thinks.

    Kaine hides his budget and fincial decisions behind a wall of opaque jibberish. Why not do the same with inconvient theories espoused by “scientists”?

    Kaine’s a lawyer for goodness sakes (and the son-in-law of Linwood Holton). He’s not going to let some “scientist” lecture him on science. Patrick Michaels only has a PhD in Ecological Climatology – he isn’t even a lawyer!!

    There will be no public outrage over this because there is no consistent conservative political organization in Virginia. There are plenty of RINOs who believe that the state government should operate in darkness, hoarde billions in taxpayer money, etc. Butthere are few-to-no principle based conservative groups. and that’s too bad since the liberal Democrats are well organized and staedily taking over the state without a fight.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Gee, it’s getting hot in here….

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Groveton, Here’s my dilemma. On the one hand, I think the Global Warming debate has been entirely politicized and the dominant orthodoxy is systematically stomping out dissenting viewpoints. That’s bad. On the other hand, Gov. Kaine *is* governor, and it is not entirely unreasonable of him to expect his administration to speak with one voice (even if it’s a voice I happen to disagree with).

    The question then boils down to this: Should the state climatology office, by virtue of receiving state funds, be regarded as an extension of the Kaine administration? Or should it, by virtue of its connection to UVa, be insulated from political pressure? You can make a case either way.

    As Wahoos, you and I should both be concerned about a separate issue: Why did no one at UVa rise to Michaels’ defense? Why didn’t the UVa administration intervene to protect his academic freedom?

    President Casteen trumpets the university’s ethnic diversity every chance he gets. How about the university’s intellectual diversity?

  4. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    The clearest description of the situation appeared in this Editorial:

    “UVa has appointed one of his colleagues to take over his duties as state climatologist, but without the title. The university should keep it that way.”

  5. Groveton Avatar


    If I had to guess, I’d guess that global warming is a pretty serious problem. However, that’s just a layman guessing. And I fully acknowledge that there are two sides to that issue.

    My dilemma is that Gov. Kaine doesn’t seem to be much of an expert on climate change. Yet he fires a real expert for disagreeing with him on that issue. I had a lot more faith in him when he allowed a dissenting voice to be heard. Now he seems even more like a political hack opining on something he doesn’t understand. I’d make the case that interpreting the impact of climate change is as important as interpretung the Constitution. The President doesn’t get to fire Supreme Court justices who disagree with him and Kaine should have kept Dr. Michaels.

    Today, the province of Quebec imposed a carbon tax on energy firms. Meanwhile, Virginia faces a tax collection shortfall vs. plan. And … Gov Kaine is up on the Hill testifying. And firing the state climatologist who thinks global warming may not be such a big problem.

    Are we looking at “carbon abuser fees”?

    Not a tax hike. No, no. Just a sensible incentive plan to discourage energy use. But not a tax hike – don’t say that!

    I wonder.

    UVA, under Casteen, is like an old lady sitting on the front porch talking about the dances she used to attend with the servicemen during World War II. Long on memories, short on future. Lots of polite talk, few real results.

    I just saw the latest US News & World Report ranking of universities and colleges. It looks like UVA slipped again. Last time, UVA was tied with Berkeley and Michigan for 1st place among public universities. Now, Berkeley is first (among public universities) and (as I recall) Michigan was ahead as well. Georgetown moved ahead of UVA. So, UVA’s ranking is slipping while its enrollment growth is only half of Virginia’s population growth. That’s quite a trick – ineffective and inefficient.

    Intellectual diversity?

    That’s like self-actualization in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. UVA has “food and water” problems.

    You should read the following article:

    Here is a key paragraph:

    “In the academic market, herd behavior is compounded by political correctness. In the 1960s, James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock were joined at the University of Virginia by Ronald Coase (who would later win his own Nobel). But the university administration and powerful organizations like the Ford Foundation thought their free-market ideas (limited government, tax cuts, selling radio spectrum!) were disreputable, and they worked hard to push them out of the university.”.

    Why any conservative would donate any money to the University of Virginia is beyond me. I graduated from UVA and I won’t give them a dime – no matter how often they ask.

    George Mason University provides intellectual diversity. Send them your money.

  6. I have to wonder if the statement from Michaels needs to be parsed more closely. He said “I was told that I could not speak in public on my area of expertise, global warming, as state climatologist.” That’s right, he couldn’t — he couldn’t talk about anything as state climatologist, because the governor explained to him that he was not, in fact, state climatologist. He also could not talk about rain, floods, bowling, or chicken pot pies in as state climatologist, much as I can’t talk about any of those things as, say, Jim Bacon. Because I’m not more Jim Bacon than he was state climatologist.

    I have no idea if that’s what he meant, but those weasel words make it tough to tell for sure.

  7. Pages of many web site contains global warming pictures. But that pictures not give enough information of global warming. Global Warming myth is very deep ozone has doubled since the mid-19th century due to chemical emissions from vehicles, industrial processes and the burning of forests, the British climate researchers wrote.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: ..”weasel words”

    I agree.

    Think of all the things he COULD have said…

    .. like …” I acknowledge that industry opponents of global warming restrictions – HAVE funded my research…”

    ..” and further, I acknowledge that unlike most true Scientists, I choose to not have my papers peer reveiwed”

    or how about: ” my personal and professional views do not necessarily reflect the views of UVa, or the State of Virginia”.

    .. you know.. the little tagline that you sometimes see at the bottom of emails sent from employees on the employer email system…

    Isn’t it a bit dishonest to portray a person who pays the game this way.. and gets burnt as a “victim” of having his free speech restrained?

    why don’t we let the sunshine fully illuminate what really happened here?

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    so… does anyone think the state does not have much to say on the Global Warming issue…???

    hmmm… it must have been interesting having this working group putting out reports and the State Climatologist.. refuting the info in it…

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