Patrick J. Michaels, Vocal Outlier on Climate Change, Dies at 72

“An expensive (read $6 trillion) attempt to prevent an effective doubling of CO2 will almost certainly fail, and at best will slow it down a few years,” he wrote in a 1990 opinion article in USA Today. “If we go down this road, we therefore may face (1) an impoverished world waiting for a warming that never occurs or (2) a world too poor to adapt to a climate disaster.”

If Dr. Michaels tried to undermine others’ findings on climate change, his critics returned the favor, attacking his interpretations of data and his conclusions. In 2013 the progressive news site Think Progress ran an article with the headline “Patrick Michaels: Cato’s Climate Expert Has History of Getting It Wrong,” cataloging assorted predictions and pronouncements he had made that didn’t hold up. For instance, in a 2001 article in The Washington Times, Dr. Michaels wrote that hybrid cars were a doomed experiment.

Companies like Toyota, which had introduced the Prius in 1997, “were in the process of finding out that gas is so inexpensive in this country (despite its 40 cents per gallon tax) that no one except die-hard technophiles and hyper-greens are willing to shell out several thousand dollars extra for a hybrid,” Dr. Michaels wrote.

Dr. Michaels wrote or co-wrote a number of books, including “Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians and the Media” (2004) and, with Paul C. Knappenberger, “Lukewarming: The New Climate Science That Changes Everything” (2016). In the preface to “Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know,” a 2009 book he wrote with Robert C. Balling Jr., he explained his decision at about that time to leave the climatologist job and the university. He said that the governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine, was muzzling him, and that other state climatologists who were questioning climate change dogma were feeling similar pressures.

“What is so scary that some governors don’t want you to know it?” he wrote. “Apparently it is this: The world is not coming to an end because of global warming. Further, we don’t really have the means to significantly alter the temperature trajectory of the planet.”

Dr. Michaels’s marriage to Erika Kancler ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Rachel Schwartz; two brothers, Robert and Tom; and two children from his first marriage, Erika and Robert Michaels.