Peter Gleick, a water and climate analyst, has revealed that he was the individual who solicited Heartland Institute board documents and leaked them to key sites covering global warming.
Gleick received the “Climate Strategy” first from an anonymous individual, and, to confirm the contents of it, solicited the board documents under someone else’s name.
“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 programme 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,” Gleick wrote.
“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.”
Gleick’s motives were very clearly that he was frustrated with the disguised, well-funded attacks on climate science and climate scientists that have taken over discussion of the topic in the U.S. Gleick is in the midst of this issue as one of a handful of scientists very outspoken in correcting consistent lies and misinformation regarding climate science published or stated in the mainstream media. It’s very easy to understand how Gleick could be driven to such frustration. But let’s look at more of the facts, implications, and realities of today in a clean bullet-point list:
- as released in the leaked documents and many independent investigations, there are people and companies with big money heavily invested in creating confusion around important, established scientific knowledge;
- not only in public discourse, but also in the classrooms of our children now, there are serious efforts to murky the waters and suppress sound scientific knowledge around the topic of global warming and climate change;
- organizations that have repeatedly caused confusion about the negative health effects of smoking on behalf of the tobacco and cigarette industry (such as the Heartland Institute) are now doing so about the scientific consensus on global warming and climate change and its threats to humanity;
- Gleick acknowledges his own judgement lapse in the midst of his frustration around this issue and apologizes for it;
- while the Heartland Institute is supposedly outraged by this releasing of information, it has had no qualms with the illegal hacking and release of about 15 years of emails by climate scientists or falsification of what they wrote (and, the institute has, in fact, been very involved in spreading that misinformation);
- furthermore, in the midst of this release of documents, Heartland has been threatening legal action against anyone who covers the story (hardly promoting the open debate on the topic it says it’s all about), has tried to intimidate concerned citizens with threats of FBI investigation and prosecution, and continues to spin the consensus of climate scientists around the world and make it appear as if there is some reasonable doubt (where there is not) about the conclusions of nearly all the world’s climate scientists and overarching scientific institutions.
“My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts – often anonymous, well-funded and co-ordinated – to attack climate science,” Gleick wrote on the Huffington Post.
It is clear that the Heartland Institute and similar bodies like it have a specific, political agenda. It is clear that agenda is not to present science on an important matter of the day as it stands today. Instead, it is focused on presenting what, at most, 3% of climate scientists believe as equal to what 97-99% of climate scientists have clearly determined after decades of study and over a dozens lines of scientific investigation. (Note that the arguments of the few scientists not agreeing to the consensus have repeatedly been debunked and studied in depth by others in the field—why they remain “skeptical” seems to be related to their funding sources or some unclear reasons.)
“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.”
Mandia 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.”
It is a sad and frustrating time, that some people (Heartland and friends) are willing to ignore, confuse, or even hide scientific knowledge out of profit, ideological, or political motives. I thought we were past those times.
It is no wonder a concerned climate scientist like Peter Gleick took the action he took recently, as much as it lacked some sensitivity and sound judgement…. It’s too bad we’ve gotten to where we are today.
Photo: Peter Gleick via World Economic Forum
I'm the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular clean energy website in the world, and Planetsave, a leading green and science news site. I've been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and I've been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, bicycling, and wind energy for the past few years. You can also find my work on Scientific American, Reuters, Think Progress, GE's ecomagination site, several sites in the Important Media network, & many other places. To connect on some of your favorite social networks, go to zacharyshahan.com or click on some of the links below.