BLOWN OFF COURSE: Patrick J. Michaels, a research professor at the University of Virginia and the state climatologist, has made a name for himself as one of the most prominent academic naysayers regarding human-caused global warming, which he views as much less of a threat than most other scientists do. That contrary position has caused political trouble between Mr. Michaels and the governor, Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat who has pressed for taking steps to combat greenhouse-gas emissions. Mr. Michaels says that because the support for his position involved state money, the political pressure grew to the point where it was hampering his academic freedom. And so he resigned his post as state climatologist this summer.
“I was told that I could not speak in public on my area of expertise, global warming, as state climatologist,” he said in a statement released by the Cato Institute, in Washington, where he is a senior fellow. Jay Zieman, chairman of the department of environmental sciences, which oversees the state’s climatology office, says that Mr. Michaels’s freedom was not impinged, adding that “this department has defended his right to publish.”
But Mr. Michaels was told that “when he was speaking about global warming, he could not do it under the rubric as state climatologist.”
Since 2006 Mr. Michaels has been on long-term leave from Virginia, pending his retirement, says Mr. Zieman.