The End of an Era – Vale Patrick Michaels

By Jennifer Marohasy. Reposted from her blog.

There was a time when it was possible to point out an error by way of a rebuttal published as a note in a scientific journal – even in the journal Nature, even when it went against the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming agenda. The late Patrick Michaels had a note published back in 1996 (vol. 384, pg. 522) explaining that there was a major error in research findings by Ben Santer – findings so significant they underpinned the key claim in the second IPCC report that ‘The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.’

Pat Michaels’ career spanned the emergence of global warming as the dominant paradigm underpinning not just atmospheric research but more recently energy policy. His death last week represents not only the loss of a great intellect but also the end of an era.

Pat Michaels is a past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, program chair for the Committee on Applied Climatology of the American Meteorological Society, research professor of Environmental Sciences at University of Virginia for 30 years and contributing author and reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports – reports that more than anything else created the modern illusion of catastrophic warming.

Nowadays a television news bulletin almost always includes climate change – based on the assumption that there is something unusual about the modern climate; that it has been so perturbed by human activity we are heading for catastrophe. There will be some moralising, and an appeal to the authority of science. Some are animated by these reports, some are frightened, but very few can place any of this in any meaningful historical context. If we could, then we would realise that the fear of human-caused climate change is a recent phenomenon. The late Patrick Michaels understood how public choice theory in economics combined with an almost textbook example of how nonsense paradigms can take hold in scientific research created the current faux narrative.

The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in 1988 to assess available scientific information on climate change, assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change, and formulate response strategies. The first IPCC assessment report (AR1) was published in 1990, the second (AR2) in 1995, the third (AR3) in 2001, and the sixth and most recent just last August 2022 (AR6). Each IPCC report consists of reviews of ostensibly scientific work on climate, divided into chapters. Each chapter has several lead authors, plus a number of contributors. In the Second Assessment Report (AR2) it is stated on page 4 that:

The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate.

This was the first unequivocal claim of a human influence on climate being reported by the world’s leading experts and in an authoritative report. That sentence was read and reported by opinion leaders around the world as a breakthrough; such is the reach of the IPCC assessment reports.

The claim was based on the work of Ben Santer, a physicist and atmospheric scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, whose job it was to model the effects of human-caused climate change. The nature of his research led to his appointment as the lead author of Chapter 8 of the 1995 report (AR2).

Ben Santer hadn’t actually published the key study on which this claim was based at the time of AR2, in 1995. The research was not published until the next year, 1996. As soon as it was published, it was fact checked by Patrick Michaels who subsequently published the devastating critique in the journal Nature.

Ben Santer’s ‘fingerprinting’ study looked for geographically-limited patterns of observed climate change to compare with patterns as predicted by general circulation models (GCMs). The idea was that by finding a pattern in the observed data that matched the predicted model, a causal connection could be claimed. Except that Patrick Michaels showed that the research on which the key 1995 IPCC ‘discernible influence’ statement is based had used only a portion of the available atmospheric temperature data.

The Santer study was terribly flawed because of the fallacy of incomplete evidence – also known as cherry picking.

Patrick Michaels explained the problem in the chapter he wrote for Climate Change: The Facts 2017. (That chapter has just been made available online courtesy of the IPA, click here.)

The peculiarity of the [Ben Santer] paper was that it covered the period from 1963 to 1987, although the upper-air data required for a three-dimensional analysis was reliably catalogued back to 1957 – by one of the paper’s thirteen authors – Abraham Oort of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton. The starting date of 1963 was also a very cool point in global records, as temperatures were chilled by the 1962 eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Agung, one of the four large stratovolcanoes in the twentieth century, and the biggest since Alaska’s Katmai in 1912.

The year 1987 also seemed to be an odd ending point. Data were certainly available through to 1994, seven years later, and updatable through to 1995. It is noteworthy that 1987 was an El Niño year, and therefore relatively warm compared to the rest of the study period.

The match between the observed three-dimensional temperature profile and the modelled profile was persuasive because of the projected difference between warming in the two hemispheres, with a substantial ‘hot spot’ – both simulated and observed – in the lower and mid-tropospheric Southern Hemisphere …

However, the omission of data from the years 1957–62 and 1988–95 was puzzling. The reason these data were not included became clear when I added them in. If all the data were used, there would have been no significant match between the modelled and observed data. Santer et al. simply discarded the data that didn’t fit their preconceived hypothesis.

Pat Michaels showed that when the full data set is used, the previously identified warming trend disappeared. His thoughtful rebuttal, published in a peer-reviewed journal, could have been a game changer. But there was an extraordinary lack of political will to do the right thing that exists to this very day. There is a complete lack of political will to call out the fake findings.

Back in 1996, because of Patrick Michaels scholarly rebuttal in Nature (co-authored with Chip Knappenberger, vol 384, pg. 522), Ben Santer should and could have been hauled before a commission and the entire IPCC process quashed.

Pat Michaels took the time to explore the data underpinning the key finding of the second IPCC assessment report and he showed it to be deficient. His summary of the cherry picking unequivocally showed-up the conclusion to be unjustified because it only included a segment of the available data.

Pat Michaels, the scientist, had loaded the gun with that note published in Nature in 1996. But there was no politician prepared to pull the trigger. Now it is impossible to even get this type of rebuttal published.

If a process of overhauling the IPCC had been put in place back then, back in 1996, there would have been no Third Assessment Report (AR3) and arguably no global-warming hockey stick chart that went onto seal the fate of rational evidence-based discussion about global climate change.

Pat Michaels went on to include public choice theory in his writings. He would emphases that it does not judge someone’s honesty or dishonesty. It simply implies that the structure of incentives that climate scientists are currently presented with creates a bias of distortion, in which problems must be exaggerated in order to garner funding … and that this political process creates a symbiotic relationship between politicians and scientists that works to both their advantage. Scientists get resources for their research, and responsive politicians can tout their funding of virtuous causes.

On the reality of climate change Pat Michaels explained:

We know, to a very small range of error, the amount of future climate change for the foreseeable future, and it is a modest value to which humans have adapted and will continue to adapt. There is no known, feasible policy that can stop or even slow these changes in a fashion that could be scientifically measured.

Pat Michaels was interested in measurement, and its statistical significance. And he was prepared to be bold and have his inconvenient findings published and then he was prepared to be interviewed about them and explain it all in plain English. There are so few of them anymore at government institutions – as far as I can tell most publicly-funded climatologists are full of hyperbole or cowardice.


The image at the top of this email is Pat Michaels back in 2009 talking about the Climategate emails on CNN,

To read his chapter in the book I edited back in 2017, click here.

The key rebuttal published in Nature is
Michaels, P., Knappenberger, P. Human effect on global climate? Nature 384, 522–523 (1996).

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Gunga Din
July 20, 2022 10:12 am

As I commented to the notice:

(I’m only making one point of comparison.)

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the church door, he wasn’t doing anything unusual.

Notices and such were commonly nailed to church doors. They were a bulletin board of sorts.

He posted an invitation to debate any or all of the 95. He wasn’t out to start “The Reformation”. He just wanted an open debate.

Doctor Michaels, along with many others, just wanted an open debate.

An open debate should not have upset the CliScientist so much.

Steve Case
July 20, 2022 10:15 am

As I recall, that Ben Santer chart appeared in Michael Crichton’s book; “State of Fear” or something very close to it.

John Garrett
July 20, 2022 10:24 am

Human mob behavior is terrifying to witness. It’ll make a misanthrope out of you.

Janice Moore
July 20, 2022 10:24 am

Further evidence of Ben Santer’s rigged numbers (why else would he be so angry at Pat Michaels?)

From: Ben Santer
To: P.Jones
Subject: Re: CEI formal petition to derail EPA GHG endangerment finding with charge that destruction of CRU raw data undermines integrity of global temperature record
Date: Fri, 09 Oct 2009 11:07:56 -0700

Dear Phil,

I’m really sorry that you have to go through all this stuff, Phil. Next
time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat
the crap out of him. Very tempted.

(Source: )

“Dear Phil” — lol.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 20, 2022 2:31 pm

Phil and Ben. Two of the climate change liars responsible for the current human-caused climate change delusion.

Are they proud of the destruction and chaos they have caused with their climate change lies?

There should be a Special Place in Hell for scoundrels like these.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Tom Abbott
July 20, 2022 4:35 pm

Something like this would do nicely:

comment image

Cause: lies about human CO2.*

*Cladding that greatly accelerated and intensified fire causing many horrible deaths on building to prevent concrete from leaking CO2 into the air. Reason for doing that? Lies about the dangers of CO2.

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 20, 2022 8:59 pm

Chimney fire,!!

July 20, 2022 10:45 am

When dealing with hunting witches, one must first assume that witches exist.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Doonman
July 20, 2022 12:58 pm

A hint is that when you challenge one to debate, they curse you instead.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Doonman
July 20, 2022 6:39 pm

Unfortunately, in ‘climastrology,’ it is all too common to not even acknowledge the unstated assumptions, let alone examine them.

Mike Lowe
July 20, 2022 12:18 pm

One of my basic thoughts about the current craze concerning “climate change” is that so many professed Christians seem to think that mankind is sufficiently powerful to change global-wide weather. Surely their Lord is omnipotent, and could readily ensure that his creation is not so adversely affected by another of his creations? Meanwhile, I hope Patrick is remembered well, without feeling the need to wish him R.I.P.!

Janice Moore
Reply to  Mike Lowe
July 20, 2022 12:43 pm

They don’t read their Bibles (or their Torah). 🙁

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”


Genesis 8:22

Brian Dingwall
Reply to  Mike Lowe
July 20, 2022 2:55 pm

The same Christians who think that fossil fuels, and man’s intelligence and skills to use them safely are not gifts from their God when used for the betterment of mankind. And that man is not the vehicle God has chosen to return the underground reservoirs of carboniferous fuels to the atmosphere whence they came. They have no faith in His mysterious ways!

Danley Wolfe
Reply to  Brian Dingwall
July 21, 2022 4:43 am

Has anyone seen a count of climate change advocates who are either atheists snd/or on the psyroll meaning capitalizing on their climate change in re to position, salary, papers published, notoriety e.g. Michael Mann, …scuence is not about believing in something …. or hand in the air voting, or investment firms issuing ESG funds…

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Mike Lowe
July 20, 2022 2:56 pm

Hasn’t God got form in sorting out misbehaving humans? Another flood to put out a burning up world and put us humans in our place.

Frank from NoVA
July 20, 2022 12:48 pm

‘Back in 1996, because of Patrick Michaels scholarly rebuttal in Nature (co-authored with Chip Knappenberger, vol 384, pg. 522), Ben Santer should and could have been hauled before a commission and the entire IPCC process quashed.‘

1996 would have been in the middle of the Clinton-Gore regime, so no surprise there was no push back then. The big question is why Bush-Cheney didn’t try to lower the boom on this nonsense during their two terms.

Bob Meyer
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
July 20, 2022 1:36 pm

Most Republicans at the time (especially the Bush-Cheney types) never missed an opportunity to expand the power of government despite their usual protestations. Public choice theory applies to both parties and more so to the one in power at the time.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
July 20, 2022 6:31 pm

The big question is why the American Physical Society didn’t lower the boom on this nonsense.

The APS was loudly front and center about cold fusion. Their collusion in the pseudo-science of AGW is damning.

Dennis G. Sandberg
July 20, 2022 1:28 pm

Yes, the state of affairs in climate research,

“…the structure of incentives that climate scientists are currently presented with creates a bias of distortion, in which problems must be exaggerated in order to garner funding … and that this political process creates a symbiotic relationship between politicians and scientists that works to both their advantage”.

It’s not complicated, and very enduring.

July 20, 2022 2:48 pm

Eisenhower nailed it in his Farewell Speech. After identifying the “military-industrial complex” and its potential problems, he continued:

“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Exactly what has happened…

July 20, 2022 2:51 pm

Ben Santer –

wasn’t he the guy who surreptitiously and without consulting his team, binned the IPCC report section draft that the experts panel had written, where they said they couldn’t find any human causes for global warming, and instead inserted his own text saying there is a discernible human influence on global climate.

All his own work.


Reply to  Mr.
July 20, 2022 10:47 pm


Danley Wolfe
July 20, 2022 4:01 pm

Curious on the use of “Vale” in the title. I am not familiar with the usage here and don’t find it anywhere, dictionary, thesaurus, etd.

Reply to  Danley Wolfe
July 20, 2022 5:11 pm

Latin for “farewell” (fare thee well), if I remember my schooldays Latin classes.

Johne Morton
Reply to  Mr.
July 20, 2022 6:31 pm

“Vale” usually means “valley”. Dal/Dahl/Dale/Vale/Valley….

Janice Moore
Reply to  Johne Morton
July 20, 2022 10:48 pm

Vale (classic Latin) meant “farewell” long before “vale” meant valley.

Johne Morton
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 21, 2022 5:06 am

True. It is still a bit of an odd choice of words, I suppose, given more familiar words like “adios” or “adieu” could have been used. When I see “vale”, that’s not what I’m thinking…

Janice Moore
Reply to  Johne Morton
July 21, 2022 10:59 am

I agree, Mr. Morton. The usual form is “Ave atque vale” — I salute you (as a hero) and bid you farewell.

I don’t have a reading disorder, but, every so often, I misread something, my mind giving the word(s) its own charming meaning. It makes for many a laugh and so I am glad I do it! 🙂

For example:

For YEARS, in the 1980’s, as a young driver in a small town, I would regularly see the bumper sticker: “Where the hell is Mt. Vernon” (there was no punctuation). It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s or so that it finally struck me what it meant (I didn’t grow up among people that used salty language). I read it: Where the FUN is! Mount Vernon. I thought my hometown was pretty nice and my brain just plugged a positive guess into “what do they mean by ‘hell?'”

Here, if I hadn’t read many of Mark Steyn’s Ave Atque Vales and C. S. Lewis’ letters written in Latin to an Italian priest, I would probably have thought something like:

“Vale. Hm. Pat Michaels walked through the ‘vale of tears’ and is now out of the nightmare that is most of our life on earth. So, having been persecuted, he is to be known as ‘Vale Pat Michaels.’ Or something……” 😄

John Garrett
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 22, 2022 4:29 am

I commend you, Janice, for your knowledge of Latin.

The teaching of Latin used to be an educational fixture. I had my share.

Janice Moore
Reply to  John Garrett
July 22, 2022 9:53 am

Aw, Mr. Garrett. That was generous of you. I really don’t know much Latin. And, yes, when my mom was in high school (before you, probably 🙂 ), she took Latin. By the time I was there, Latin wasn’t offered. I think it has made a bit of a comeback at my old high school, though.

Gilbert K. Arnold
Reply to  Mr.
July 20, 2022 7:37 pm

@Mr…. you are correct… It has been waay to long since I took Latin in High School.. I “googled” it…

Reply to  Danley Wolfe
July 20, 2022 10:49 pm

Why the downvotes for a simple question?

Reply to  Danley Wolfe
July 20, 2022 11:18 pm

DKUATBT! Took me a couple of seconds, though.

July 20, 2022 8:57 pm

Research science is dead and will only arise again after something very disruptive happens in society. Many possibilities, but it is clear that too many people have taken the Kool-Aid, and pseudo science is dominating.

July 20, 2022 11:15 pm

Call this what it is. Corruption.

July 21, 2022 5:30 am

Is there an error in the date: “and the sixth and most recent just last August 2022 (AR6).”

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