This is a rush transcript from "Life, Liberty & Levin," October 21, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARK LEVIN, HOST: Hello, America. I'm Mark Levin. This is "Life, Liberty & Levin." Welcome.
PATRICK MICHAELS, SENIOR FELLOW IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AT THE CATO INSTITUTE: Nice to see you.
LEVIN: It's a great honor to see you, Patrick Michaels, doctor. Expert on all things climate and environment, as far as I'm concerned. A little bit of your background. You're the Director of the Center for Study of Science at the Cato Institute. You hold an AB and SM, you hold those degrees in Biology, Sciences and Plant Ecology from the University of Chicago - pretty good school. PhD in Ecological Climatology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, 1979. You're past President of the American Association of State Climatologists. You were Program Chairman for the Committee on Applied Climatology at the American Meteorological Society. Say that fast five times.
LEVIN: You were a Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia for 30 years, and I'm giving an extensive background that you have. I'm giving that to the public so they that you know you really know what you're talking about. You're a contributing author and a reviewer of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
All right, let's get started. Climate change, global warming, global cooling - we've heard it all. What's going on out there?
MICHAELS: Well, surface temperature of the planet is warmer than it was a hundred years ago about 9/10th of a degree Celsius.
LEVIN: Nine-tenth degree of a degree Celsius.
MICHAELS: That's all.
LEVIN: Is that a lot?
MICHAELS: No. It's not a lot. There are two periods of warning, one in the early 20th Century that could not have been caused by human beings because we hadn't put enough CO2 in the air, and one in the later part of the 20th Century that either slows down or ends depending upon whose data you use somewhere in the late 1990s, only to resume with the big El Nino that covered the news the last couple of years.
So that means that probably about half, maybe half of that nine-tenths of the degree might be caused by greenhouse gases because when the planet warmed beginning in 1976, the temperature of the stratosphere started to drop and that's the prediction of greenhouse theory that's not intuitive. The great philosopher of science Karl Popper said, if you can meet a difficult prediction with your theory, you can continue to entertain your theory.
So the theory is right, but the application of it is wrong. It is nowhere near as warm as it's supposed to be. The computer models are making systematic, dramatic errors over the entire tropics which is 40 percent of the earth, and it's where all our moisture comes from or almost all of it.
LEVIN: Let me stop you there. Who does these computer models?
MICHAELS: Governments. There are 32 families of computer models that are used by the United Nations, each government sponsored. And all of them are predicting far, far too much warming.
The disparity between what's been predicted to happen, which looks like and what is happening continues to grow.
LEVIN: We know that for a fact?
MICHAELS: Yes, because you could just look at the weather balloon temperatures. You can look at the satellite temperatures. You can look at something called the reanalysis data. They all behave in concert. So they're showing the same thing, and the same thing is a lot different than this thing. However, we need to call the special counsel.
LEVIN: A special counsel?
MICHAELS: Yes, because one model works and you know what it is? It's the Russian model.
LEVIN: So let me get this straight. So all the government models are like this?
LEVIN: The Russian model like this.
MICHAELS: Yes, the Russian model has the least warming in it.
LEVIN: And the Russian model has the least warming and the Russia model, pretty much follows reality that's been tested over a few decades.
MICHAELS: Yes, correct. If we were rational about this, think about the daily weather forecast. You watch the Weather Channel, they go, "Oh, this model says that, that model says that. We think this one is working the best, so we're going to rely on that." Well, for climate forecast, we should be using the Russian model, but we're not. We use this big spate of all the other models that have this warming in them that's not occurring.
LEVIN: Why are all of these other government models, 31 of them, wrong? And why do they all go in the same direction, up?
MICHAELS: Because, they are what are is called parameterized. They're all parameterized, can I translate parameterized into English? Fudged. They don't get the right answer, don't know the right answer for a certain phenomena, so we essentially put in code steps that give us what we think it should be. And the systematic error that was made was the models were tuned, yes, I said, tuned.
Tuned to simulate the warming of the early 20th Century. It began in 1910, ended in 1945, about 0.45 degrees Celsius. Mark, that could not have been caused by carbon dioxide.
LEVIN: Because there wasn't enough.
MICHAELS: That we had to put enough in that the background carbon dioxide concentration is 280 parts per million. When the first warming started, it was 298 parts per million. If the atmosphere is that sensitive to an 18ppm change in CO2, we wouldn't be talking about this right now and we'd be sweating bullets.
LEVIN: So what you're saying is man-made carbon dioxide earlier, in the last century could not have produced ...
MICHAELS: The early 20th Century.
LEVIN: The early 20th Century could not have produced this heat. So what did? Do we know?
MICHAELS: No. And you know, the three most important words in life may not be "I love you," It might be, "I don't know." I don't think anybody really knows what kicked off that warming. There's lots of theories. One is that it was the final escape from a cold period, a multicentury period known as the Little Ice Age. That's a plausibility, but why did it happen then?
But we just don't really have a good explanation for that, but because we forced the computer models to say, "Aha, human influence, CO2 and other stuff." We made the models too sensitive, and so that's why when you get to the late 20th Century, all of a sudden they're warming up like crazy and the reality is down here. It was guaranteed to happen.
This was revealed in "Science" magazine in late 2016, and there was a paper that was published by a French climate modeler called "The Art and Science of Climate Model Tuning," and in it, he speaks of parameterizing -- we could say fudging -- the models to give, his words, an anticipated acceptable range of results.
So it's the scientist, not the science that's determining how much it's going to warm. A lot of people don't know this, but it happens to be true, and you know, we could speculate as to why that paper was published right before the 2016 election? I wouldn't want to impute causation, but gee, if ...
LEVIN: But I want to ask you about causation.
LEVIN: You have you 31 governments.
MICHAELS: The 31 different models.
LEVIN: All right, 31 different models. They are multiple governments.
LEVIN: They're fudging the numbers?
MICHAELS: Not fudging them, they are parameterizing.
LEVIN: Okay, well, you used the word fudging. Does our EPA do that? Does NASA do that? Who does that for us?
MICHAELS: Aha, good question, Mark, because the EPA was told by the Supreme Court in 2007 that if it found the carbon dioxide endangered human health and welfare, that it had the power to regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
LEVIN: This is the Massachusetts.
MICHAELS: That's the Mass EPA. Well, they produced an endangerment finding, 2009, and the endangerment finding for its prospective climate is 100 percent, I didn't say 90 percent, I said 100 percent based on those models. So if you can demonstrate that those models systematically are not working, you can take down the endangerment finding, and that would be the basis for all those policies that came out of the Obama administration.
LEVIN: Which would mean you don't get to regulate ...
LEVIN: ... carbon dioxide.
MICHAELS: Absolutely, the endangerment finding is the heart of the matter. And to give you an idea how gung-ho the Obama administration was on this issue. If you listen to his first inaugural speech, January 20, 2009. The second substantive paragraph of the speech is about global warming, after health care. Ninety days after he finished that speech, his EPA produced a preliminary finding of endangerment from carbon dioxide.
They were working on this before he was President, bureaucrats can't work that fast, and then the final finding was made in December for the climate conference in Copenhagen that was supposed to produce another global warming.
LEVIN: So you're telling us that we have a massive bit of public policy that has enormous effect on society that's built on - I'll use my words, phony models.
MICHAELS: It's built on a house of cards. The models really don't work. And if I could really be arcane, I could explain the mechanism as to why they don't work.
LEVIN: As long as I understand it.
MICHAELS: The models systematically predict that as you go up in the atmosphere in the tropics which are 40% of the earth that the temperature should rise dramatically as you go further up in the atmosphere. So when you get to the level of the jet stream, the computer models are predicting seven times. I didn't say seven-tenths of a degree, I said seven times more warming than is being observed.
But why is that important? Why am I boring you with that? Because the vertical distribution of temperature that determines upward motion, which means, it determines precipitation, and guess what? Almost all the atmospheric moisture that we have around us today in the humid Washington, DC, that comes from the tropics. So if you get that vertical motion wrong, down there, you get all the subsequent variables wrong. It's a fantastic systematic error, and again, that along with the difference between the surface temperatures or rather the lower atmospheric temperatures and what's being observed, that's sufficient to kill the endangerment finding.
LEVIN: Okay, so to the average pedestrian like me, if you get that wrong, what does it mean? You get all the weather models wrong?
MICHAELS: You get the subsequent weather wrong. That's why, if you look at all these families of models, they predict radically different changes in precipitation from model to model. Well, probably because they got the precipitation initialization out of tropics wrong.
Precipitation is important. I offer you Wilmington, North Carolina as an example of precipitation. It's important coming from the tropics, get that wrong and you get that wrong.
LEVIN: Is weather getting worse?
MICHAELS: No. I love that question because what you really want to look at and Roger Pielke, Jr., at the University of Colorado does this. Yes, there's more damage from weather because there's more stuff and people and property in the way of weather. So what you really want to look at are weather damages as a percent of GDP.
When you look at it that way, there's nothing whatsoever. I'm sure hurricanes are getting worse. I heard that on every legacy network during Florence and Harvey and all that stuff. Well, fact of the matter is, there's a guy by the name of Ryan Maui who is just a hot shot young tropical meteorologist. He is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and he tracks the energy in these tropical cyclones.
Since we got global records that began in 1970, and you would think there would be some relationship between that integrated energy and global warming after all, it's only logical. Vice President Gore says that must be the case. It's not. There's no relationship whatsoever between the accumulated cyclone energy and the surface temperature of the earth. It's just not there
Now, what - wait a minute, why does our government say this? They said it in their last report called "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States." They said, "oh, there's been a significant increase in hurricane power in the Atlantic Ocean from like 1970 to 2009," or something like that, 1980 to 2009. Wait a minute. Why did you stop in 2009? It's a 2014 report. Because if you take the data after 2009, the increase goes away and back to where it was.
Why did you start in the mid 1970s, because we have records that are really good back in 1920 and if you look at 1920 to 1950, you see an increase that is exactly the same as the one that occurred ...
LEVIN: So the information they're providing us ...
MICHAELS: It's skewed.
LEVIN: It's skewed.
MICHAELS: It's skewed. They're cherry picking.
LEVIN: And here, we rely on the climatologists, meteorologists, and they become hyper political and I want to get back to that ...
LEVIN: ... as soon as we return. Don't forget, ladies and gentlemen, you can watch Levin TV almost every week night by going to crtv.com/mark, crtv.com/mark and sign up there or give us a call at 844-LEVIN TV, 844- LEVIN TV. We'll be right back.
Dr. Patrick Michaels. The politicization of science. Let me read you something from Ayn Rand, "Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution," a book of hers she wrote, which I found rather compelling. She said, "Instead of their old promises, that collectivism would create universal abundance and their denunciations of capitalism for creating poverty. They are now denouncing capitalism for creating abundance. Instead of promising conflict, comfort and security for everyone, they are denouncing people for being comfortable and secure. The demand to restrict technology is the demand to restrict man's mind. It is nature, that is reality that makes both these goals impossible to achieve. Technology can be destroyed and the mind can be paralyzed, but neither can be restricted. Whether and whatever such restrictions are attempted, it is the mind, not the state, that withers away." You agree with that?
MICHAELS: Yes, I do. Now, we should ask the question, how did it happen? How did we use the authority of government to direct essentially technology, energy, et cetera? How did government become so intrusive in the science process? And to do that, we have to know history. It goes back to none other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, at the end of World War II, saw that the Manhattan Project was going to be successful, probably.
And he wrote to the director of the office that ran the project and said, "Hey, we need to keep all these scientists working for the government. They'll do great things and everybody will have a greater life," and that produced a document called "Science: The Endless Frontier," by Vannevar Bush which laid the blueprint for the Federal takeover of Science, prior to World War II. There was very, very little Federal money in Science except in the land grant schools, and scientific progress was perfectly fine.
Economic growth, we were the envy of the world. If science is involved in developing economies, and I believe it is, we were doing really, really well. Now, when the government takes it over, the government gets what it wants and the government can give out money to basically only study the global warming via climate models. Did not take a look at climate history and to see what that really tells us, and then the government can have the policies that it wants. Because, do you expect, do you really expect scientists who have been paid for decades to study the effects of warming and to create models that by the way have too much warming, do you expect them to testify in front of Congress when asked do we need more research? They would say no, it's really a non-problem? They'd get thrown out of their jobs if they did that.
And so it becomes self-perpetuating. Now global warming is a cosm, it's not a microcosm. It's a pretty big cosm -- cosmos -- in this constellation, but there are other issues that the government just abuses science onto take people's stuff, if you don't mind, and that governments distort in service of a political end.
I mean, think about the dietary advice that we've been getting from the government for 20 or 30 years, turns out to be wrong. Might be associated with the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. These - when the government gets together and makes a plan and does not deviate from it, people get hurt, and that is what's happening, and Ayn Rand was right. Part of the plan was to get us off our energy stream, to get us off of oil and onto so- called renewables, renewables that don't provide nearly enough energy, and it's intermittent so that they take down the technology.
What Ayn Rand was talking about is what actually happened. As a result of Roosevelt and Vannevar Bush, we created the State Science Institute. And if you remember in "Atlas Shrugged," it was the State Science Institute that destroyed the innovation of the society.
LEVIN: So I have an interesting paradox here, which is that you have an institution of government or several of them, which claim to be the final say in science by rejecting science, by attacking aspects of science, by climate change deniers.
MICHAELS: By shading it.
LEVIN: By shading it, so you actually lose knowledge, you lose science, correct?
MICHAELS: Yes, that's a problem. If you say, well, they're just studying the greenhouse effect and the greenhouse effect is real and it will create some warming, so all these things, all these pronouncements that we get on diet, on whether we should exploit the world's largest copper deposit in Alaska, what the government says will have a small kernel of truth in it, and then it will be built into an artifice the size of Mount Everest from that small kernel, and that's the problem.
LEVIN: I don't mean to simplify this, but who are these people? Are they ubiquitous? Are there ten of them?
MICHAELS: When you buy off the academy, you can get what you paid for, and you know, when we went into the federalization of science, the academy said, "Okay, we'll apply for your money and we're going to tack on 50% for every research application that we're going to call overhead, and that money, we, the universities, will use as we choose, and so a lot of it that the engineering and science departments generate all this revenue, probably goes to keep the dramatic language of the department to flow which does not have enough student traffic."
So now, the academy roots for anything that is big government that it feels it can tie onto to maintain this relationship. The roots of political correctness, there are many, manifold and varied. But one of them certainly was the enslavement of the academy.
LEVIN: This is a very important point, because you're not the first one I've talked to who has mentioned this and there are different fields. So the academy -- the universities and colleges -- more and more less in terms of pure science, less in terms of pure knowledge, less in terms of pure debate and so forth, more and more directional, more and more ideological. That's your point?
MICHAELS: Yes, it is, and it's not just in climate change. In fact, I am just completing a book manuscript that looks more than climate change, it looks at diet, it looks at drug policy, the opioid war and all these good things. It's called "Scientocracy," and I think that's what we have developed in this country.
And you know, there are things we can do about it, but this has to be a public will, and the public is so scientifically misinformed that it becomes a very, very heavy lift, doesn't it.
LEVIN: One fact, it becomes very political, doesn't it? In other words if you don't believe in climate change and you can't even explain it, you don't know what it means, you don't know where it comes from, you don't know why it exists, but you know as a political matter, you better believe in it or you're a denier like a holocaust denier.
LEVIN: We'll be right back.
LAUREN GREEN, CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: Live from "America's News Headquarters," I'm Lauren Green. New images show the last time "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi was seen alive. Pictures from Turkish state television show him entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. The Saudis have now admitted he is dead saying he was killed in a brawl inside the consulate. Turkish media also reporting that Khashoggi's fiancee is now under police protection. The report however did not elaborate why.
An investigation is under way after a floor collapsed during a party at a clubhouse near Clemson University in South Carolina. The floor caved as people were dancing injuring some 30 people as they fell into the basement below. Some were treated in hospitals but none of the victims received life-threatening injuries. I'm Lauren Green, now back to "Life, Liberty & Levin."
LEVIN: Dr. Michaels, everybody says this global warming, it's a terrible thing. The oceans are going to rise, we just talked about this. The hurricanes are going to be more intense and so forth, and you're saying not really. Well, we never talk about this, are there benefits from some increased heat on the planet?
MICHAELS: Yes, the whole philosophy here is straight out of Voltaire. You know, Pangloss and the best of all possible worlds, we don't live in the best of all possible climates. And our atmosphere is not in the best of all possible composition. So what's happened as it's warmed this half a degree in the late 20th Century and the CO2 has gone up and up in the atmosphere, well, what we've done is we've created a greener and greener planet and the greening of the planet earth is profound. There's a very recent paper that just came out a couple of months ago, showing tremendous increases in how much green matter there is on the planet.
MICHAELS: Vegetation. The largest increases by the way are in the tropical rainforest. It's growing like topsy.
LEVIN: Is that why we never hear about it anymore?
MICHAELS: I don't know why we don't hear about it anymore, but it sure is growing, and in grassland, which is lot of it is used for agriculture either ...
MICHAELS: Prairies that cows either go on or we harvest it for hay, the data for 17 years of satellite data show the grassland, green mass, if you will, is growing at 5% per year. That's huge. Another paper, "Nature" magazine by Ziaxen Ju (ph) two years ago looked at the planetary greening and said what are the causes? He did something called a factor analysis. Seventy percent of it was a simple direct effect of putting more carbon dioxide in the air because it's plant food. And one of the other big causes of the planetary greening was climate change, the warming of the planet. Yes, we never hear about this, but it's real.
LEVIN: So even though it's warming just a little bit, it has an enormous positive impact on the planet.
MICHAELS: Because the main reason for that is because the way the greenhouse changes work is they warm the coldest temperatures preferentially to warming the warmer ones, so the growing season, which ends with the first frost in autumn and begins with the last frost in the spring, the growing seasons get longer and longer and longer, the greenhouse effect also affects nighttime temperatures more than it affects daytime temperatures, that's when the cold temperatures are.
So you have a longer time for the planet to green up and then you have longer growing seasons and you have the direct fertilization of carbon dioxide which is even more important than the climate change itself, and you're winding up with a much greener planet. I've looked at these numbers. I can tell you that the amount of agricultural productivity that is now being induced in the planet by CO2 particularly in these grassland areas is going to provide a lot of our food for our future.
LEVIN: You know, it gets a little confusing frankly, the politics and the logic of all this, that is, you would think if a tiny little bit of increase in heat and it comes and goes, right? I mean, that's the way the nature works, that's how the planet functions, would be so beneficial, that we wouldn't be trying to regulate the hell out of it, we would pretty much just leave it alone.
MICHAELS: Well, you would think, but unfortunately, like we talked about early in the program, if we parameterize the models to produce large amounts of heat in the 21st Century, then we're going to say it's all bad and we're going to try to, if you will, de-technologize.
LEVIN: When did all this start? When did all of this propaganda, the fake stuff ...
MICHAELS: When it all started? I'll tell you when it started. It started in the late 1970s when a group of folks that I know decided that they wanted nuclear power, and they decided that Carter, who sold himself as a nuclear engineer, he was actually a technician on a submarine, that Carter was favorable to this, so that if they pushed the issue of global warming as a catastrophe, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, that could lead to the nuclearization of the country.
That's when it started, and it spun out of control because the green allies who wanted us, the fossil fuel thing gone, they didn't want nuclear power. They're dramatically opposed to nuclear power. So they pushed solar energy and windmills. Now we get an unreliable grid and expensive electricity. It actually has a history. It happened. It was an international movement that started out in Sweden with Bert Bolin who was the first head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and it was a very conscious plan to impose this not just on our society but the world.
LEVIN: What is this de-growth, de-industrialization movement? Is it sort of part of this massive progressive movement or even worse, socialism or Marxism or anything of that sort. I've studied, I've written about it, I've read about it, it's really kind of got born in Europe and was exported to the United States?
MICHAELS: That is true, and the problem with it is that it enjoys broad support as long as you demonize the producers of energy. We should celebrate the producers of energy. It is energy that drives the technology that has doubled our life expectancy in the last 100 years. We should be celebrating this. And if you take this away, you're going to take that away too.
LEVIN: Don't forget, folks, almost every week night, you can you join me on Levin TV, Levin TV, go to crtv.com/mark, crtv.com/mark or give us a call at 844-LEVIN-TV. 844-LEVIN-TV. We'll be right back.
At the top of the show, we went through your biography a little bit, and you worked for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the UN. I don't know a lot about it, know a little about it, written a little about it, but it was sort notoriously corrupt intellectually as I understood it, tell us about that.
MICHAELS: Well, the IPCC as it's called is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The United Nations is trying to tell you something there, it wants the governments of the world to have a unified view, and therefore a unified policy on climate change. That's what it was there for.
Now, I was asked to write a small portion of second report. I've reviewed the other ones and people said, "Why did you work for IPCC?" Well, fact of the matter is that all garden parties need a skunk. And there were a few skunks there. The skunks eventually kind of dropped out because they tend to get so disgusted with it. But we got our two cents in and then, as you know, it's simply kind of run away with the issue, and all these documents that are produced like the IPCC documents, the US national assessment on climate change, they're summaries of scientific literature.
Now, the problem is the scientific literature, itself, has to be biased, because we are working, we are funding the hypothesis that climate change is this horrible thing. It has all of these horrible effects and you don't get your grant renewed unless you publish and so that literature that you summarize is biased in a given direction. That's how we get on policy did. Did some people sit in a room and say, wow, this is how we'll do this? I don't know. But it might have happened.
LEVIN: The UN is notoriously anti-capitalism and high sovereignty, national sovereignty and so forth. Naomi Wolf once said, a leftist activist, obviously, that really, it's the environment, climate change, all these issues, through which we're going to change the capitalist society.
LEVIN: Is that what's taking place?
MICHAELS: They're trying. They certainly had a block in the road that occurred, a bump in the road that occurred a couple of years ago.
LEVIN: What happened?
MICHAELS: Well, we got a President that wasn't going for it, and he promised to get out of the Paris Accord on Climate Change, that's an agreement that was hatched in December of 2015, in which the nations of the world submit what are called voluntary plans to reduce their emissions. So, for example, we volunteered to reduce our emissions at pretty substantial percentage. The Indians volunteered to increase their emissions, the Chinese volunteered to increase their emissions until 2030 whereupon they might level off.
So the president looked at that and he says, this is a bad deal. What I just told you, doesn't that sound like a bad deal?
LEVIN: Yes .
MICHAELS: And he got out of it. Meanwhile, what country on earth reduced its emissions the most? Of all the nations on earth? The US of A.
LEVIN: So this would have formalized an agreement where we're compelled to lower and the Chinese and the Indians could increase?
MICHAELS: Yes. Now, the thing - but nobody is compelled. There's no enforcement mechanism in the Paris Accord. So when our negotiator, John Kerry came back and was on the Sunday TV shows, he said, well how are you going to enforce this? What are you going to do countries that don't do what they said they were going to do? He said, "We'll shame them." Honest to God, I guess we have a shame bomb now and that's going to do something. Of course, emissions are going up.
LEVIN: Why have we lowered our?
MICHAELS: We have lowered ours largely because of good old capitalism and technology, discovering that we were not running out of natural gas, that if we just break rocks underneath our feet, we can extract the natural gas from shale.
MICHAELS: Fracking, that's right. And so we're substituting natural gas which is cheaper for coal for electrical generation, and that produces about half as much CO2 per unit electricity as a coal plant does, and so our emissions are going down, and I see a lot of big companies are experimenting with natural gas for large scale transportation. You can do to on a railroad because the size of the engine doesn't matter. It might be able to do it in trucks, so the emissions, it's more efficient, the emissions go down and then 30 or 40 years from now, because there are so many pressures to be efficient, I don't know what technology we will have, but I'll bet it will be more efficient. The old advertising slogans, the future belongs to the efficient, well, welcome to the United States.
LEVIN: We'll be right back.
Dr. Patrick Michaels, why does the media do such a lousy job in reporting basic information like you're explaining to us right now?
MICHAELS: Well, the end of the world sells, look at the ratings for the Weather Channel every time there is even a modest hurricane, and if you are predicting and projecting global weather and climate Armageddon, people are going to tune in, and even if it doesn't happen, the way it's supposed to, well, you don't have to report that, do you? You don't have to report that the climate models are predicting way too much tropical warming and all that good stuff. No, you can just keep on going as you will. There's a niche, though, I've often thought of this. Wouldn't there be a market for a good weather channel that just had pictures of the beach and bright sunny days with advertisers Anheuser-Busch and Viagra, it would work, I'm sure.
LEVIN: There's an opening right there.
LEVIN: But it's a great disservice, I see this across the board in a lot of cultural, social, scientific issues, where the free press doesn't provide information. Doesn't provide facts. It provides ideologically pushed policies. And this is particularly troublesome to me in this area because there's a lot of correcting that needs to be done, so it's politicized. It becomes an ideological movement. We talk about people want to raise objections to it. You. You've come under a barrage of assaults as I've seen.
MICHAELS: It's not very pretty.
LEVIN: Not very pretty, simply because you say wait a minute, I have different information that shows something else. What's it like?
MICHAELS: It's not fun, but it must be enough fun that I continue to keep on doing it. The problem is that a lot of the journalistic profession, a lot of people go into it because they're idealistic, they want to change the world, and my God, here's an issue that affects the energy structure of our society, which really affects our society and I can be involved in this? So they form pressure groups or internal lobbying groups like the Society of Environmental Journalists.
LEVIN: I didn't know there was one?
MICHAELS: Oh, yeah, they're very powerful within the profession, and enforces a speech line. There are certain things you don't say, there are certain things you say. And they have annual conferences where the lights of issues like climate change come and give them lectures about the end of the world. So it's a self-feeding process and it's an institution.
LEVIN: Is the EPA a good agency or a bad agency? When you hear about it, you say, well, clean air, clean water, saves the polar bears, but do they fear, over regulate and make progress that much more difficult?
MICHAELS: The polar bears are saving themselves. They're growing in numbers. The EPA was the outgrowth of the early environmental movement in the United States. It was created by Richard Nixon, and by the way, the air in some of our air sheds was crap.
LEVIN: By the way, we're going to finish with this when we come back. We'll be right back.
The EPA started under Nixon, what are your thoughts about?
MICHAELS: We had a lot of work to do when it started out. We had really serious air quality problems in the country and the EPA did a great job with that. It tried - it succeeded in controlling sulfur and nitrogen oxides that came out of power plants, acid rain and all that good stuff. But unfortunately, like most bureaucracies, one of the easy low hanging fruit are the things you get and then you start to get more arcane, but your bureaucracy is embedded and then the agency takes on a life of its own and that's what has happened. Can it be fixed? Yes, it could be. We could take a look at the endangerment finding from carbon dioxide and see how scientifically well supported or non-supported it is. I think that would go a long way.
And then, we would have a much more sensible policy. We would not be shooting ourselves in the energy foot like we are and we would continue to maintain our society at higher level.
LEVIN: True enough. Problem is when you have people who are embedded in these agencies who are not willing to do as you say or ideologically driven, or are there for decades and have, as you say, their agenda - and they are going to drive their agenda, this becomes a huge problem. Let me tell you, it's been a great pleasure.
MICHAELS: Yes, it was great fun.
LEVIN: All right, thanks very much. See you next time on "Life, Liberty & Levin."
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