Patrick Michaels, a former professor at the University of Virginia, has built a second career at the libertarian Cato Institute issuing data-laden reports against mainstream climate change science. In his latest book, Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything, Michaels joins Paul Knappenberger, the assistant director for the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science, to introduce new arguments updating Michaels’ long-held thesis that man-made warming is a reality but that “[t]he atmosphere isn’t warming nearly as fast as is predicted in the forecasts . . . .” Forecasts of substantial warming are a problem, Michaels believes, because they “serve as the basis for some of the most onerous environmental regulations ever proposed (and adopted).” In Michaels’s view, reducing fossil fuel emissions to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only involves introducing suspect regulations, but may in fact be impossible. “We simply don’t know,” Michaels asserts, “how to power or develop a modern economy either without emitting vast quantities of carbon dioxide and/or proliferating nuclear fusion worldwide. . . .”
This review first summarizes the structure and content of Michaels’s argument in Lukewarming. It then considers the significance of Michaels’s ideas in relation to the climate policy of the current presidential administration. The review concludes with a comment on Lukewarming’s place in the progression of American attitudes towards climate change.