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The Unnatural Habitat of Science Writer John Rennie

Unsolicited Advice for Patrick J. Michaels

John Rennie

As an editor, I have this suggestion for Patrick J. Michaels of the Cato Institute. It might help his public communication skills. Patrick, in the future if a reporter asks you, "Did you mean to imply that undercutting the credibility of the field [of climate research] in toto is a good thing?" and your answer is, "No," followed by this:

I think that most environmental policies (or non-policies) require some type of “event”. Consider “Waldenstrube” (acid rain), the mis-named “Ozone Hole” (more accurately known as the early-spring Antarctic depletion) and the Montreal Protocol, or Bob Watson’s completely fabricated Northern Hemisphere ozone hole (did you ever write about that?) prompting a complete phaseout by the senate, 99-0. I think our science has always been fraught with uncertainty. Look at the history of Methane concentrations in the last two decades. “Consensus” science (including myself in this one) was dead wrong about the second most-important human-related greenhouse-gas emission! That’s a pretty big flop that the public is completely unaware of. So if they don’t trust us as they used to, that’s a good thing…at least it is the right thing!

I don’t have a problem with the public not trusting scientists. The way we do science today ( Kuhn + large programmatic funding = stasis + shenanigans) certainly doesn’t inspire my trust.

Then it would be faster and clearer if you just said, "Yes."