T-D tests Michaels� new moniker

Tropical storm Ernesto brought more than drenching rains; it brought a first test of a new description for Patrick J. Michaels, the man whose title turned into a hurricane of its own last month.

"I don't think we're going to be talking about drought very much longer," Michaels was quoted in a Richmond Times-Dispatch story yesterday. The new shorthand? He's now– get this– "the University of Virginia's state climatologist," according to the story.

Michaels, readers may recall, became a lightning rod for controversy last month after Charlottesville City Councilor Kevin Lynch questioned the propriety of Michaels' role as so-called "state climatologist" while accepting industry money and espousing an unpopular view that downplays global warming.

A hot-potato game erupted in which UVA and the governor's office weren't quite sure how Michaels kept his title. When the dust settled, the environmental science professor was essentially told to avoid calling himself "state climatologist" when doing his private consulting.

So how 'bout that new journalists' shorthand? Messages left for Michaels and the two journalists who may have coined the new moniker in the Times-Dispatch, Peter Bacqu© and Bill Geroux, were not immediately returned. We'll keep you posted if/when they do.

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Labor Day (Sept. 4) update: Last Friday night, not terribly long after this item was posted, Michaels emailed that the moniker was "just fine with me." As for the two T-D reporters, since they work for a place that keeps a bizzarely tight ban on reporters commenting to other media, we may have to wait a while....

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