Anorak | Peter Gleick: blagging and deception to suport climate change science

Peter Gleick: blagging and deception to suport climate change science

by | 21st, February 2012

PETER H. Gleick, is a “water and climate analyst”. The New York Times says he has been “studying aspects of global warming”. His bio is impressive:

His research and writing address the critical connections between water and human health, the hydrological impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization and globalization, and international conflicts over water resources. Dr. Gleick is an internationally recognized water expert and was named a MacArthur Fellow in October 2003 for his work. In 2001, Gleick was dubbed a “visionary on the environment” by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Gleick’s Institute upholds the Integrity of Science:

The Pacific Institute’s Integrity of Science Initiative responds to and counters the assault on science and scientific integrity in the public policy arena, especially on issues related to water, climate change, and security.

But things have gone badly. Andew Revkin writes in the NYT:

Now, Gleick has admitted to an act that leaves his reputation in ruins and threatens to undercut the cause he spent so much time pursuing. 

What Gleick says:

The Origin of the Heartland Documents

Peter Gleick

Since the release in mid-February of a series of documents related to the internal strategy of the Heartland Institute to cast doubt on climate science, there has been extensive speculation about the origin of the documents and intense discussion about what they reveal. Given the need for reliance on facts in the public climate debate, I am issuing the following statement.

He goes on:

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget. I forwarded, anonymously, the documents I had received to a set of journalists and experts working on climate issues. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.

I will not comment on the substance or implications of the materials; others have and are doing so. I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved. Nevertheless I deeply regret my own actions in this case. I offer my personal apologies to all those affected.


The Heartland Institute had already signaled that it plans to seek charges and civil action against the person who extracted its documents under a false identity. Foreshadowing today’s events, on Friday, Ross Kaminsky, a senior fellow and former board member at Heartland, posted a piece on the American Spectator site naming Gleick as an “obvious suspect.” Now they have their man…

Another question, of course, is who wrote the climate strategy document that Gleick now says was mailed to him. His admitted acts of deception in acquiring the cache of authentic Heartland documents surely will sustain suspicion that he created the summary, which Heartland’s leadership insists is fake.

One way or the other, Gleick’s use of deception in pursuit of his cause after years of calling out climate deception has destroyed his credibility and harmed others. (Some of the released documents contain information about Heartland employees that has no bearing on the climate fight.) That is his personal tragedy and shame (and I’m sure devastating for his colleagues, friends and family).

Junk Science sums up with damning insight:He did it for the planet.”

Richard Littlemore is of the opinion:

Whistleblowers – and that’s the role Gleick has played in this instance – deserve respect for having the courage to make important truths known to the public at large. Without condoning or promoting an act of dishonesty, it’s fair to say that Gleick took a significant personal risk – and by standing and taking responsibility for his actions, he has shown himself willing to pay the price. For his courage, his honor, and for performing a selfless act of public service, he deserves our gratitude and applause.

Do those actions leads to a rational debate? No. They just polarise views.

The Guardian quotes:

“Heartland has been subverting well-understood science for years,” wrote Scott Mandia, co-founder of the climate science rapid response team. “They also subvert the education of our school children by trying to ;’teach the controversy’ where none exists.”

He went on: “Peter Gleick, a scientist who is also a journalist just used the same tricks that any investigative reporter uses to uncover the truth. He is the hero and Heartland remains the villain. He will have many people lining up to support him.”

Bryan Walsh:

The problem for climate advocates, of course, is that suspicion will only grow that Gleick falsified the original document now that he has admitted using deception to get the additional memos. (And just so we’re clear, this is deception—no reputable investigative reporter would be permitted to do what Gleick did. It’s almost certainly a firing offense) …

Worst of all—at least for those who care about global warming—Gleick’s act will almost certainly produce a backlash against climate advocates at a politically sensitive moment. And if the money isn’t already rolling in to the Heartland Institute, it will soon.

Why can’t they just stick to the facts?

Posted: 21st, February 2012 | In: News Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink