The Cato Institute and Patrick Michaels – It's a Small World After All

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It’s not often the public gets to follow the money trail, so it was a treat this week when PR Watch revealed the Cato Institute has been bankrolling a consulting company owned by notorious climate denier Patrick Michaels to the tune of $242,900 since April 2006.

Michaels is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and according to tax documents uncovered by PR Watch for 2006 and 2007, Cato ponyed up almost a quarter million to Michaels’ firm New Hope Environmental Services for “environmental policy” services.

Small world eh?

Both Cato and Michaels have a long and reprehensible history of questioning the link between carbon emissions and climate change. Last month, Cato bankrolled full-page ads in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Times, and the Los Angeles Times, opining that climate change was “grossly overstated”.

Their statement was naturally targeted at decision makers in advance of the cap and trade legislation moving through Congress. It was signed by the usual suspects, including Patrick Michaels, who has made a lucrative career of challenging climate science on behalf of a variety of vested interests.

Real scientists were of course disgusted by this tactic, as well as the baseless claims being spread around the nation. A scientific evisceration of the Cato letter is available here.

For a more in-depth journey into the bowels of the carbon-funded campaign to confuse the public on climate change, you may want to peruse a remarkable affidavit filed by Patrick Michaels in 2006. He was weaseling out of testifying as an expert witness in court after learning he might be forced to unmask his funding sources.

It seems Michaels was hired by a number of auto companies and lobby groups, including General Motors and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, in a legal bid aimed at preventing the government of Vermont from regulating greenhouse gases.

Greenpeace intervened in the case seeking to have Michaels’ consulting company reveal its shadowy clients. Dr. Michaels quickly bid a hasty and undignified retreat. Rather than risk exposing who was bankrolling him as a professional climate expert he filed this remarkable document in court outlining the reasons why this would endanger his livelihood.

How badly did Michaels want to keep his backers secret? He states himself that dropping the trial “resulted in short-term loss of income to me.” How much, he did not say. However other parts of his affidavit show how lucrative it can be to hang a shingle a professional climate skeptic.

According to his sworn statement to the court, Michaels outlines previous clients that were lost due that pesky substance called “the light of day”. He states for the record:

Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Inc., an electric utility, had requested that its support of $50,000 to New Hope be held confidential. After this support was inadvertently made public by another New Hope client, Tri-State informed me that it would no longer support New Hope because of adverse publicity. Also, in 2006, when a $100,000 contract between New Hope and electric utility Intermountain Rural Electric Association to synthesize and research new findings on global warming became public knowledge, a public campaign was initiated to change the composition of the board of directors so that there would be no additional funding. That campaign was successful, as Intermountain has not provided further funding.”

It is not often this sophisticated network of industrial obfuscation is glimpsed by the public. 

That washed up scientists are willing to testify in court for money, or shill for industry in the media is certainly not news. Many “experts” gladly took filthy lucre from Big Tobacco to cast doubt on the well-known link between smoking and cancer.

But the next time you see Patrick Michaels pop up in mainstream media as a so-called climate expert, bear in mind who is paying is meal ticket.

 

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