Gleick’s Actions Don’t Excuse Heartland’s Anti-Science Campaign

, former president | February 21, 2012, 1:08 pm EDT
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Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and the head of the Pacific Institute, made a public statement yesterday in which he explained his role in obtaining internal documents from the Heartland Institute.

As I said earlier, it’s wrong to obtain documents under false pretenses, just as it was wrong for hackers to have taken scientists’ emails from the University of East Anglia. There’s no excuse for fighting deception with deception and Dr. Gleick has now come forward to publicly acknowledge his responsibility in this matter. Obviously, the person or persons who took scientists’ emails have not felt a similar need to come clean.

Dr. Gleick is among many climate scientists who have been targeted by ideological groups that are eager to attack the messengers of scientific findings. And he is a strong advocate for the important role science plays in society. It’s unfortunate that the bitter, personal attacks on his colleagues and their work contributed to what he called a lapse of his own personal judgment and ethics.

Our criticism of the Heartland Institute’s strategy of spreading misinformation about climate science still stands. It is waging a cynical campaign, funded by corporate interests and anonymous individuals, to undermine the public’s understanding of climate science and introduce ideology disguised as science into our children’s classrooms. The Heartland Institute has still not confirmed the authenticity of the documents, even as independent media outlets have confirmed much of the information and activities outlined in them.

The science about climate change is clear, but the debate about how to respond to it is broken. We’ll continue to work with leaders from all perspectives to help ensure that the United States can have a rational, fact-based debate about how to respond to climate change. It’s time for our nation’s leaders on both sides of the aisle to start dealing with the realities spelled out by the body of evidence on climate science.

Posted in: Global Warming, Scientific Integrity

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  • Peter Kovachev

    Goodness, Mr Hoare, just read your February 24, 12:24 post above. (Like you, I couldn’t find a way to attach it to the appropriate comment, so forgive the placement)

    Are you switching sides on us here by providing a forum for Heartland? Ok, just kidding, but you do realize that what appears to horrify you about Heartland Institute’s declarations is actually, perfectly accurate and reasonable? From my perch here in the frigid Canadian North, all that Heartland is trying to do is what is already being done in many school boards in Canada, where the old one-sided Al Goreish (and here, David Suzuki-esque) type of propaganda is being chucked for a much-needed honest and open debate on energy policies and climate science. In one of my kids’ high school, students not only look at the good and bad roles of the traditional energy interests, but are doing what no one dare to do even a year ago, namely to examine the influence and finances of environmentalist NGO corporations (e.g., the cute panda bear WWF or the foreign-funded Suzuki Foundation) and new “green” industries and their murky connections to governments and capital. The walls are no longer plastered with ads for the “environmentalist industrial complex,” as one might rightly call it, and its duds like the toxic Chinese-made solar panels and inefficient “bird choppers” and the like, but with attempts at comparative analyses of oil, gas, nuclear and other technologies.

    As you’ll soon discover in the US, once kids are allowed to challenge your current government’s and its corporate cronies’ dictates on the question, and to actually explore the scientific, financial and political dimensions of this issue from all sides (imagine that travesty!) without being penalized and bullied by teachers and classmates, the climate alarmist position tends to fall apart as quickly as phrenology, eugenics and Lysenkoism. Which, of course, explains the panic over introducing a real debate in schools, the one which prompted Peter Gleick and others to engage in dirty smear campaigns and fraud.

    The science isn’t settled and debate isn’t over, Mr Hoare; the tyrannical, one-sided propaganda is. And may the true and honest science win.

  • Brent Hoare

    Ah, Mr Kovachev, first of all may I extend my thanks for the civility with which you address me, I’m certain this is quite unusual for most other enthusiastic WUWT commentators, and I sincerely appreciate it (If there are two Peter Kovachev’s with an interest in these issues and you are not a prolific WUWT visitor, I sincerely apologise and unreservedly withdraw these remarks).

    However I draw your attention to the contention at the head of this thread by Kevin Knobloch, and with which I strongly concur, that “The science about climate change is clear, but the debate about how to respond to it is broken”. Dr Norman and yourself are of course free to disagree with this, but I would politely suggest that to do so here is somewhat off topic.

    In any case I’m certainly much more interested in discussing the way debate about how to respond to climate change is unfolding, and the role of Deniergate, and of Dr Gleick in bringing the unscrupulous activities of the Heartland Institute to public scrutiny. As it seems you are among the “external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts)” [2010 Climate Strategy, HI], I can understand why diverting discussion of Deniergate would be of interest to you, but I respectfully decline to indulge.

    I’m sure the folks at SkS will take your unkind comments about their acclaimed site as evidence they are doing a very good job indeed, and I thank you for this contribution to their Key Performance Indicators. For those who may be unfamiliar with the work of, I encourage you to visit and form your own views, but may i point out here that they were the proud recipients of the 2011 “Eureka Prize for the Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge”. By way of explanation;

    “The Eureka Prizes, presented annually since 1990 by the Australian Museum, have been described as Australia’s “Oscars of Science”. The prizes recognise and reward excellence in the fields of scientific research & innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism & communication.

    “The prizes are sponsored by a wide range of government departments & research organisations, universities, foundations, media organisations and corporations.”

    Eureka Prizes are not given out lightly, and are not easily dismissed, sorry Peter. There are a number of threads and several hundred of comments on Deniergate over at SkS, which may also be of interest to readers here.

    • Brent Hoare

      -sorry i meant to post this at the bottom, can you put it down under Kovachev’s comment below?

    • Peter Kovachev

      There’s no need, Mr Hoare, to thank me for my courtesy. It’s the way I and most skeptics I know debate when addressing individuals we disagree with. Perhaps you can reciprocate by dropping the inaccurate and offensive term “denier,” a term which was clearly created to associate skeptics with Holocaust deniers, a demented, mendacious and disgusting group of people, as you would hopefully concur. Yes, I am the Peter Kovachev…and that’s my real name as well…who blogs on WUWT, although “sporadically” would be more accurate than “prolifically.” I wish I had more time to be prolific, but we all do what we can in our spare time. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make with your revelation, though. Is it a bad thing to blog on what has become one of the most popular, respected and influential climate science sites? Am I somehow sullied by my association with the site and do my arguments lose all validity because of it? Personally, I don’t usually bother with “researching” bloggers and I don’t announce their blogging history and habits. Not a big deal either way, just that I think that it’s irrelevant and somewhat déclassé.

      Anyhow, I’m not sure what your main point in your post, is (other than trying to deflect attention from Glaick) so I’ll address a few that stick out. You said that “the science about climate change is clear, but the debate about how to respond to it is broken.” And that, “Dr Norman and yourself are of course free to disagree with this, but I would politely suggest that to do so here is somewhat off topic.” Ok, this one’s easy. Try reversing it, as in the science is demonstrably broken, but the debate is clear. Makes much more sense this way, given that none of the predictions or “projections” have panned out, that evidence is lacking and even pro-CAGW proponents cannot agree on most points. The dabate is crystal clear: We skeptics challenge the financial motives, the legislative national and international manipulations and the fraudulent pseudoscience manufacture by the numerically tiny group of self-declared “climate scientists.” But, as you say, feel free to disagree. Besides, if the science were “clear,” then there would be no need to make the ludicrous pseudoscientific declaration that “the science is settled,” to hide, fake and destroy evidence, to blackball researchers, to rely on billions in government largesse and heavy-handed legislation, to spend hundreds of millions on PR and failing shlock sites like SkS (which you so tackily plug in your post)…or to commit criminal wire fraud, as Peter Gleick has admitted to. And in turn, I politely suggest that none of this is “off topic.” I’d say it’s rather central to the debate.

      I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “Deniergate,” but my guess is that it’s a tastless and hopeless attempt to change language and directtion, one probably spearheaded by the Hoggan PR team at SkS to cover up their about-to-be-investigated connection to Peter Gleick’s “peccadilloes.” As you’ll see in the following weeks and months, this one ain’t gonna fly. The peanuts in funding that The Heartland Institute receives and its tame promotional and educational activities pale in comparison to the pro-CAGW’s hundreds of millions for aggressive and blatant propaganda and scare-mongering which has been targeting our children in the classrooms. May I suggest that instead of spinning feverish fantasies about “attacks on science” and vast Big Oil-sponsored conspiracies (which are a bit of a projection, as “Big Oil” openly funds the pro-CAGW side with millions) you look at the failure of your own side as the cause of its rapid decline? It’s not Heartland or Anthony Watts who have knocked the feet under you, but your own side’s corruption, politicking, incompetence, primitive Stalin-era propaganda tactics and most importantly, bad and indefensible science that are doing you in. We skeptics are just trying to speed up the process before you folks damage our economy more than you already have, before you further enrich the “green” crony capitalists and before you hand over our national policies and taxes to anonymous and unelected eco activism corporations and UN bureaucracies. And we’ll do all this honestly and above-board, with minimal funding, dedicated volunteers and authentic, principled scientists.

      • Brent Hoare

        Actually Peter, as I said above, it was Kevin Knobloch, who said at the start that “The science about climate change is clear, but the debate about how to respond to it is broken”. I happen to agree, because I listen to what the experts say, make great efforts to understand it and keep up to date with developments, and respect the considered arguments and evidence published in the literature. You’ll find this summarised here:

        People who choose to deny what the science is telling us, and who actively work to undermine public confidence in climate science are legitimately labeled “deniers” because it is what they do. Cast whatever Nazi aspersions you like but Godwins’ Law means you lose, end of discussion. If you think you know better than the established consensus of reputable and respected climate science professionals, provide your published references, and prove your point on RealClimate or SkepticalScience. Actually, please don’t waste their time. You are among those hubristically denying established understanding about how the global climate is being influenced by human activity, this denial is doing great damage in delaying an urgently needed political response, and so you will need to get used to being called on this and called a “denier”. Sorry if you don’t like it, but you choose.

        Certainly, while the “science is clear” it is far from settled, much uncertainty remains, and all power to the researcher working hard to resolve these. I’ll do you the courtesy of ‘agreeing to disagree’ and accept at face value that you really believe the fanciful absurd conspiracies you espouse, just spare me the verbal violence “Ross Brisbane” has been dealt?

        Lastly, save us the mock confusion re “deniergate” – this is up to nearly 45,000 mentions on google already, and I’m sure you’re keep up with it all on “fakegate”.org – now pegging at just under 100,000 results. For those of us concerned with communicating what the science really says, this is in itself a bit of a worry on the face of it, and perhaps worthy of further discussion and analysis?

      • Peter Kovachev

        Reply to Brent Hoare’s February 27, 2012 at 6:35 am post.

        First, my apologies to you, Brent, and anyone else who has stumbled into this, for making a dog’s breakfast out of the posting order; it seems the script doesn’t allow reply to a reply, or else I’m being an utter dolt by missing something elementary or obvious. Suggestions are welcome and reprimands will be stoically tolerated.

        Anyhow. Fine, suit yourself, Brent, if you and others wish to follow the loons at the Daily Kos and the PR shlocks with the obnoxious “denier” name calling. Can’t let reality or courtesy get in the way of the scheme, I suppose. I’m puzzled, though, about the logic of accusing me of violating the fictional “Godwin’s Law” (as empirically established as “feedback amplification”) when I merely complained that the term is offensive because it’s intentionally used to create a fictional connection between skeptics and Holocaust deniers. Your sophistry doesn’t wash; no one with your education and erudition can credibly pretend to not to know that for the last three decades at the least, the word “denier” has been exclusively used to describe Holocaust revisionists. I may be indifferent to your attempt to “out” me as a blogger at WUWT, a “sin” which perhaps suffers from a greater stigma among the Daily Kos crowd than Holocaust revisionism, but I do find the term personally insulting, should you care about this. I also think that the PR genuises who came up with the term and those who maliciously fling it about are opportunistic moral cripples who will casually casually use Holocaust associations to score a cheap point. But that’s just my opinion.

        Further on this “denial” issue and just out of curiosity, but when I arguably deny and clearly dismiss other examples of what I believe are ludicrous cases of pseudoscience aggressively wrapping itself in the mantle of science, examples such as Lysenkoism, phrenology, homeopathy, 1970s Ice Age alarmism or racial eugenics, does this also make me “anti-science” and a “denier”? It’s an easy accusation to fling about, as you can see, one which can be flung at the pro-CAGW crowd for denying established scientific methodlogy, traditions, protocol and ethics.

        And, thanks for the news that FakeGate is whipping DenierGate on Google or wherever, but I guess it was bound to happen. Truth and credible terms sometimes do get the upper hand. Go figure. There is also your side’s and this site’s “anti-science” meme I’d like to fill a complaint form about, but as dead-wrong and insulting as it may be, it seems to be taking off like a lead balloon, so I won’t worry too much about it now.

        As a fellow rhetoretician in this struggle, may I also point out how transparent and silly this attempt here to distract from Peter Gleick’s crimes and misdemeanors is? The hysteria over Heartland Institute’s piddly funding of $4.4 million is supposed to be a stop-the-presses crisis and a news-breaker, while Climate Works Foundations’ $460.8 million (sic!), to use but one example of many, is not worth even a mention anywhere. This rather typical and dramatic funding disparity, in fact, along with the “Big Oil” tycoons’ known contributions to the warmists, would make an even better discussion than the ones you keep on proposing, Brent. On that topic, let me be a good neighbour and share a strategic projection on the next wildfire you’ll be trying to put out. This misguided spin on the hum-drum Heartland funding will kick-start the overdue discussion about just how many millions, billions in fact, have gone into turning a beneficial trace gas into a planet killer. Question marks will soon float about before our eyes: Who are the donors, who are the recipients, how is the money spent, what did it produce and just how much has gone down this rabbit hole? Me, I can’t wait for a good look at how come that, with all the gazoodles of money, government help, lapdog media, UN involvement and supposedly top PR gurus, the warmist side is losing the battle for public sentiments so miserably(and somewhat gracelessly) to a bunch of grossly underfunded, numerically weak, uncoordinated, unpopular and supposedly under-educated, reactionary Neanderthal “deniers.” That’s a story future historians will never tire of.

      • Peter Kovachev

        Last posting of mine appears to have plopped where it was supposed to. I’ll have to analyse this.

        PS, Brent. You are a confident and competent debater who can actually write well, so may I invite you as well as anyone here, to try yourself out at WUWT? If I can plunge into the lions’ den, so can you, I say. You’ll be in the minority and against quite formidable chaps many who, unlike me, have solid science backgrounds, the action is…well…fast-past and robust…but the moderators are fair and I give you a gentleman’s word that while I may join the debate against you at times, I’ll treat you as my personal and honoured guest and will aggressively intercede on your behalf in matters of fairness and courtesy. Anthony Watt has a few policy rules you should check out first (I never did, but so far no “snips” for my innocuous comments). They are mainly about trolling, discussions of off-the-wall junk science like HAARP conspiracies or “chemtrails,” lack of courtesy and any use of the “denier” word, which he finds as offensive as I do. This isn’t a trick to lure you into a blogospheric back alley where you’ll be electronically savaged and have your wallet ripped off; I and most folks at WUWT like a good and hearty debate and apart from about a dozen regular “warmies,” most prominent of whom would be Wiki’s own William Connolley who comes in to subject himself to target practice now and again, we are getting lean on effective opposition. Don’t want to wind up with another echo chamber, just as the webmaster here at USC appears to have wisely concluded. After all, we all claim to welcome communication, right? So, what say you?

  • M Gordon

    I am delighted to see that science is not settled. Where would you all be if it were ever “settled”?

    I am a scientifically literate member of the taxpaying public and in some small part your employer if you are funded by public money.

    I desire meaningful debate. Show me what you have. Closing the door on anyone is suspicious.

  • Kevin Knobloch, well said.

    I am not going to join in the condemnation of Dr. Gleick. I can understand his frustration and empathize with what he’s done. And why.

    I’m active in the animal welfare movement, and we’re seeing the same types of activities Heartland is infamous for, directed at HSUS, ASPCA, and individual activists. Misinformation, innuendo, quotes out of context, smear campaigns to harm people–all because of big agriculture, puppy millers, and idiotic libertarian ideals. (If we can say “libertarian ideal” without committing an oxymoron.)

    We’ve played by the rules that these corporate front organizations define for us. They don’t play by the rules themselves, of course, but they’re right there to demand we hold to a higher standard.

    So I understand Dr. Gleick’s actions, and won’t condemn them.

    And I appreciate your thoughtful response. Don’t let them chase you away from you know to be right.

    • Peter Kovachev

      Shelley, perhaps you need to communicate your noble defense of the silly rascal to Dr Gleick’s employers and supporters, such as The Pacific Institute which wants to can him pronto, the organizations which don’t want him on their boards (or even his name on their websites) and the previously supportive media which is now calling him a thief and a fraud. And, Anthony Watt’s site is now running a “crowdsourcing experiment using free open source stylometry/textometry software to determine the true authorship of the ‘faked’ Heartland Climate Strategy memo.” Anyone can join in on the fun; it’s free and wholesome entertainment, so bring the whole family.

      As for any members of the UCS here, you folks appear to be moving on this quickly developing issue at the rate of frozen molasses. Where is everyone? I’d say now would be a good time for a serious confab, as unless you update and qualify your position better or, better still, abandon and dump Gleick like other former friends and supporters are doing in droves, USC may find itself in the same dock as the DeSmog Blog’s increasingly panicked and comical marketing hacks.

      Other than that, if for the sake of levity and entertainment I may make a broad and sweeping prediction…oops, a projection, as the UN-IPCC prefers…my crystal ball tells me that by next year USC will discover that the AGW cow’s udders have dried up and so the current posture may either wind up in the proverbial dustbin of history, or its stridency will be much, much more muted. Sorry, can’t be more precise, but it’s hard to project when data “smoothings” and “adjustments” for corporate/institutional culture lag and faith-based momentum must be applied. Whatever works, folks, but as a former marketing and communication hack, I say it’s high time for some “independent science and practical solutions,” to borrow from the USC motto. Who knows, even I may become a member then!

  • Kevin Knobloch

    We welcome conversation, whether in agreement or dissent — we only ask that it remain civil and on-topic. Too often, online conversations devolve into shouting matches.

    As I wrote in my blog post, Dr. Gleick clearly realizes he made a mistake. I think my characterization of his act as a “deception” in the above is quite clear.

    Spreading misinformation about climate science and attacking climate researchers is also wrong, which several of the responses below continue to do.

    We don’t know where the “Strategy Memo” came from and have acknowledged that the Heartland Institute claims it is a fake. However, all the activities described in the “Strategy Memo” are also discussed (though in less incendiary language) in the other documents that Dr. Gleick claims he received from the Heartland Institute – including the description of Heartland’s project to undercut the responsible teaching of climate science in middle- and secondary-school science classrooms. The Heartland Institute has not denied that those other documents are real, while journalists and donors to Heartland have independently confirmed what is contained in the documents.

    • John

      When you say –

      ‘Heartland’s project to undercut the responsible teaching of climate science in middle- and secondary-school science classrooms’.

      Do you mean they want to present the other side of the story that is being denied the students? Things like the flaws in Gore’s movie, the no show of the tropospheric hot spot & the failure of positive water vapour amplification as a result, the fact that a warming world is not proof of an anthropogenically warming world, the fact that all CO2 can do is raise the temperature by 1.2C max. & the non-existant feedbacks are supposed to do the rest, etc., etc.

      Maybe the students should be asked to write an essay on why, if the scientific evidence for AGW is so overwhelming and there is such a global scientific consensus, why people like Gleick have to resort to criminal acts, why FOI requests are ignored, why the climate models have failed so badly, why there is a need to ‘hide the decline’, why there is a need to hide the medieval warm period, why there is need to destroy opposing scientists careers (de Freitas), etc., etc. Basically, why the need to disregard the scientific method.

      Those who support or excuse Gleick’s actions show themselves as people who subscribe to his ethics & integrity, which is about as low as it can get after his admission.

      • Brent Hoare

        Here’s what Heartland says on their website in their first 2012 “Quarterly Performance Report” about their intention in the schools:
        “The second project is creation of a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Many people lament the absence of educational material that isn’t alarmist or overtly political.
        “Late last year, we found a curriculum expert who is also an expert on the global warming controversy. We think he can finally break the code on getting sound science and economics into classrooms.”

        Plenty has been said elsewhere about the credentials of their so-called expert on global warming curriculum. I won’t add to these howls of derision and outrage here.

        That an organisation that spouts drivel like this below has every intention of undercutting the responsible teaching of climate science in any forum they can access is an entirely reasonable proposition.

        “Two years after the first “Climategate” scandal provided clear and embarrassing evidence of scientific fraud and misconduct among the world’s most prominent and influential global warming alarmists, an anonymous source released another 5,000 emails showing similar and additional fraud and misconduct. Heartland once again played the lead role in informing the public about these blows to alarmist credibility.

        “The initial Climategate scandal (Climategate 1) was a public relations nightmare for global warming alarmists. Public opinion polls show the U.S. public became substan- tially more skeptical of alarmist warming claims in the wake of the revelations of scientific misconduct. The Old Media initially attempted to ignore Climategate 1, but dogged efforts by climate realists—with Heartland playing a key role—brought the scandal front and center before the U.S. public.”
        (1Q QPR, p.9)

    • Peter Kovachev

      Indeed, ’tis a veritable miracle, Mr Knobloch. Barring the animal welfare enthusiast here who seems ok with impersonation, theft of private data and release of employee information (if for a good cause only, of course), we are indeed surprisingly still civil and genteel about all of this.

      Several dissenting points I’d like to make by your leave. First, did the Heartland Institute issue a document titled, “A Project to Undercut the Responsible Teaching of Climate Science in Middle and Secondary School Science Classrooms”? I guess no, not really. That, if I may venture a guess, would be your personal interpretation. Secondly, what is “climate science” and what isn’t, and who is “spreading misinformation” about it? We know of the official and unofficial positions, but there are thousands of scientists in all manner of disciplines relating to climate who have serious problems with the collapsing AGW hypothesis. Fatal faults with the hypothesis, lack of evidence, gross violations of scientific methodology and research protocols, cases of suppression and destruction of data, and not to forget outright fraud, all these tend to put dent in a good theory after a while. Are these dissidents or “deniers,” as they are insultingly called b the self-declared orthodoxy, “spreading misinformation” when they ask the difficult questions or point out the errors and shenanigans? And as for those “attacking climate researchers,” do you mean people like Gore, Jones, Mann, Gleick and Connolley? And, doesn’t the Heartland Institute also strive to oppose what they and others see as an “ideology disguised as science”? Finally, may I remind you that yours is a public relations, policy and advocacy organization…aah yes, one very much like The Heartland Institute in fact, except with different understandings of the science, different religious and political views and, I’m guessing, much better funding.

      Anyhow, not wishing to end on a contentious note, this is a good time and place to mention that I do sincerely appreciate your keeping an open forum here, even though you may perhaps disagree a little with one or two things a few of us may say now and then.

  • paulg

    Only one problem with this. Heartland is not conducting an anti-science campaign. Nice try though.

  • Au contraire….Dr Norman Page mentions just a FEW of the reasons why AGW deserves greater scrutiny. Carbon Climate Forcing was a Wall Street creation to FORCE Carbon Commodity Credits. Climatology is a credit default swap figleaf for fraud. As such, all notions of back radiation, forcings and feedbacks are flawed. Gleicks head of the AGU Task Force on Scientific Ethics was to lay an additional mantle of respect using the 61,000 members as unquestionable authority. You must begin the investigation of advocacy by examining the underlying philosophy.

  • Chris B

    So much spin…… little science. It’s a travesty!

    Full marks for allowing dissenting comments though.

    Paging Dr. Kenji, paging Dr. Kenji………

  • John

    A great little movie of an interview with ‘Heartland Institute President Joe Bast on why global warming activist Peter Gleick stole and forged documents from his organization’:

  • Brent Hoare

    It seems to me this editorial takes a rather precious holier than thou attitude that is trying to have its cake and eat it too. If it were not for the bold and courageous actions of Dr Gleick we might have our suspicions about Heartland, but we’d all still be in the dark about their funding and strategy.

    Let’s not forget that an internal whistleblower first leaked the hard copies, and while Dr Gleick may have engaged in some sleight of hand or trickery to fool Heartland into releasing the documents in a form that could be disseminated, he’s been honourable enough to admit this and admit remorse. Like a true and great scientist he has sought to establish and communicate the truth, at some and perhaps great risk, and for the benefit of all of us concerned about the despicable anti-science campaign being waged by the denier camp.

    Not for nothing is this ongoing debate called the “climate wars”, and while I prefer to eschew violent analogies, those of us who are quick to condemn Peter might like to pay a quick visit to to be reminded of what we are up against.

    If the strategy document turns out to have not been forged, as I now believe is most likely, the Heartland Institute and their fellow travellers will have no rational leg to stand on. Not that this will stop them.

    While a rational, fact based debate might be the most desirable way to choose from among available policy choices, it is naive to think that this is the way politics works anywhere, and particularly in early 21st Century America. The corrosive impact of corporate funded PR spin will need to continue to be confronted and exposed in all its guises, and we are all in debt to Peter Gleick for doing so.

    • D. J. Hawkins

      Brent Hoare says:
      February 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm It seems to me this editorial takes a rather precious holier than thou attitude that is trying to have its cake and eat it too. If it were not for the bold and courageous actions of Dr Gleick we might have our suspicions about Heartland, but we’d all still be in the dark about their funding and strategy.

      Let’s not forget that an internal whistleblower first leaked the hard copies…

      Your last line assumes facts not in evidence. Is it entirely out of character for someone to attempt moderation of his own culpability by claiming that he was only one of several? Not to mention that personal information on individuals from a private corporation was widely disseminated. That fault can’t be found in the Climategate 1 or 2 e-mail sets. And in those cases, it’s at least arguable that when you are on the government’s dime, your work belongs to the public. Not so here.

      • Brent Hoare

        Perhaps. I’m happy to take Dr Gleick at his word. I hope investigations take place. I think there have been 9 so far into ‘Climategate’ which completely exonerated the climate scientists. I’m confident Dr Gleick would be similarly vindicated for revealing alleged breaches of US tax law by HI, even if they can’t be held legally responsible for undermining public confidence in the work of the scientific community and the IPCC, the purpose of which is:
        “to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts….The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change.”

        Confronting and exposing those who readily admit their raison d’etre is to cast doubt on the work of this critically significant institution is not an easy, nor pleasant task, and it exposes those brave enough to speak up to not inconsiderable risk of attack and denigration. Yet we all benefit from knowing the truth about these unscrupulous obfuscators.

        Those prepared to call the deniers on their deceitfulness deserve the support of their less outspoken colleagues.

  • Monroe Hunsicker

    Dr. Page,

    Hear, hear.

  • Kip Hansen


    In your statement above, you classify Dr. Gleick’s involvement in the Heartland FakeGate scandal as ‘his role in obtaining internal documents from the Heartland Institute’. It is more correct to to characterize his involvement as admittedly (or allegedly, if you prefer) committing the Federal felony of identity theft in order to obtain confidential documents of value from a private corporation through means of interstate communications (the internet). Further, someone forged a document in an attempt to discredit Heartland — Gleick denies it was him. Gleick did however, admit to passing this document along with the others, clearly feloniously obtained, without comment that it was from a different, unknown source.

    This is not some minor lapse of judgement. It is a once well-respected scientist turned, if only momentarily, into the type of amoral activist only Michael Crichton could invent.

    There can be no justification, there is no justification, for his actions.

  • nvw

    Setting aside how Dr. Gleick obtained the documents, your statement that the Heartland Institute’s strategy of spreading misinformation about climate science certainly does not stand. Gleick released with the documents from the HI one acknowledged fake document. At present Gleick claims to have received this document anonymously, but reasonable suspicion remains the Gleick himself was also the author of this memo. Your claim that the HI is spreading misinformation is based on this faked document. It seems unreasonable to accuse the HI based on crudely manufactured evidence not of their own doing.

    • Brent Hoare

      What acknowledged fake document? A vigorous debate is taking place about the provenance and veracity of the “2012 Climate Strategy” document, that is far from resolved, but I believe to have been established on the balance of probabilities as genuine. Hopefully time will tell.

      May I call the attention of participants and moderators to the comment policy that states “When commenting, you must use your real name.” Would those currently hiding behind initials and first names please show the courage of your convictions, come out from hiding under the cloak of anonymity and take responsibility for your contributions. Otherwise, kindly confine yourselves to other fora where a broader range of conduct is tolerated.

  • m seward

    Sorry, but your defence of Gleick is just a sick joke as far as I am concerned.

    The issue at hand is not support for the science of AGW or whatever it is about the integrity of the public discourse and Gleick has put his integrity down the toilet. He admits he has stooped to fraud so on what basis can his opinions have any credit at all – if he did it on this occasion how honestly held and argued are his previous utterances? Never mind that he might spout a line supportive of UCS’s position or that of others say on climate change, what is his credit as a witness in objective terms.

    I think that to accept Gleick as a hero is to accept the cop who lied to the court in the OJ Simpson trial as a hero, you know, just trying to do the right thing.

    Gleick has no credit as a witness any more, that is the issue. That UCS appears to blithely go along with the Gleick as hero thing says all one needs to know about at least some at the UCS and that is perhaps the real tragedy here. Just what is UCS “concerned” about or is UCS really just a one dimensional, anti-Heartland, partisan, feral mob? Independent Science? It doesn’t look like it.

    Peter Gleick had the good sense to out himself and apologise publicly. Methinks it time for some reflection at UCS – by some at least .

    • Brent Hoare

      I fully concur that this debate is centrally about the integrity of the public discourse. Sophisticated discussions of the ethics of Gleick’s actions (eg: have concluded that where one stands on this issue essentially depends on where one sits. So comments here are very revealing about which side of the debate particular contributors are on.

      The plain facts are that Heartland is inimicable to the integrity of the public discourse. This is plainly evident from not just the leaked internal Heartland documents, but also from their publicly available 2010 Prospectus and their first quarter 2012 “Quarterly Performance Report”, inter alia, not least the many Forbes op-ed pieces from ‘Senior Fellow’ of Heartland’s hallowed halls and “Environment and Climate News” editor Mr James Taylor.

      It’s not pretty, but outside the ivory towers, science is under attack. Those whinging about fraud and theft just need to accept that Heartland was fooled, and give Dr Gleick greater credit for taking responsibility and ‘begging for forgiveness’, as ‘asking for permission’ was not an option in his search for the truth about how these enemies of science operate. Go ahead and criticise him if you must, but remain mindful about what you saying about yourself. And please have the courage to own your comments here at least?

  • Tom

    Calling climategate a hack without proof is what in large part lead to this. The instance that a crime was committed with no proof is what gave Gleick moral license to do what he did.

  • Ed Reid

    Dr. Gleick has admitted to using fraudulent means to obtain internal Heartland documents distributed to Heartland’s Board of Directors. Specifically, he illegally impersonated a member of the Heartland BoD. He further participated in the distribution, not only of those illegally obtained Heartland documents, but also a “fake” document purportedly submitted to him by an anonymous source not yet identified. Dr. Gleick had best hope that he is not also the “anonymous” source of the fraudulent document.

    FOIA, the pseudonomous source of the Climategate 1 & 2 e-mail “dump”, collected and distributed e-mails generated in the process of government-funded climate research by the involved climate researchers. There is no basis on which to definitively identify FOIA as a “hacker”, or to demonstrate that any illegal activity was involved in access to the e-mails and other documents involved in the Climategate document dumps. There is a reasonable possibility that FOIA is actually a “leaker” from inside UAE CRU; or, more accurately, a “whistleblower”. There is also a reasonable possibility that the documents in question were stored on a publicly accessible FTP server.

    It appears that Heartland will pursue both criminal and civil actions against Dr. Gleick and others involved in this escapade. The outcome of those actions should provide some future amusement.

    It is possible that the British authorities may, at some undetermined time in the future, identify FOIA and pursue legal remedies if any laws were broken in the process of the collection and distribution of the e-mails and other materials in Climategate 1 & 2.

    It is important to note that, while Heartland is not accused of any illegal activity, the authors of the Climategate e-mails in England were saved from prosecution only by the British equivalent of the Statute of Limitations. It remains to be seen whether the US authors of some of those e-mails will be tried in the US for violating the US FOIA. Commonwealth of Virginia AG Kenneth Cuccinelli appears to be in the vanguard of that effort.

    • Brent Hoare

      Ed (thanks for using your real name), I think it might be advisable for you to see what the folks at Skeptical Science have to say about the nuances of the “Climategate” affair, I believe they have a different perspective and I’m sure they’d be happy to respond to any points you may wish to put to them.

      I’m not so sure the good folks at Heartland will follow through on their intimidating threats of legal action (did you see Richard Black at the BBC has drawn attention to some of these?), but I hope they are silly enough to do so and agree that it will provide us with great amusement. One can only guess what treasures the discovery process could turn up. However while I’m no expert on US law, I understand that investigation and proceedings are much more likely to be undertaken by the IRS. Any thoughts anyone?

  • Chris Lewis

    I note with interest that your article makes a number of mis-statements and leaves out important information. It would seem that this is intentional, so as to deflect blame from Mr. Gleick.

    First of all, there is no evidence that anything was stolen from the CRU at East Anglia. Police in the UK have been able to find nothing to link the matter to a theft or a hack. As such, for now it must remain a “leak” from a concerned whistleblower at CRU. Aside from that, the documents leaked from the CRU are public documents – documents that were being withheld from FOI requests by CRU contrary to UK law. The documents stolen (by way of fraud, perhaps even wire fraud) from Heartland were documents belonging to a PRIVATE entity.

    Secondly, the “key” document that allegedly discusses ideology and uses certain “Gleickian” turns of phrase (such as “anti-climate”) is a fake document – it has been declared so by Heartland and the document itself is suspect, even to the untrained eye. In due course the police will connect that document to the person that created it.

    As for the science of climate change being “clear”, that is a matter of significant debate – debate that AGW proponents attempt to avoid at all costs. In fact, Mr. Gleick was invited to participate in a debate mere days before this whole kerfuffle began, yet refused.

    The fact that your organization and this article attempts to whitewash Mr. Gleick’s actions by deflecting attention to the Heartland Institute and by raising the CRU matter is intellectually dishonest and very disappointing.

    Mr. Gleick and the UCC should be terribly ashamed.

  • Wayne2

    If you’ve read the stolen documents, you know that Heartland is “waging a cynical campaign, funded by corporate interests and anonymous individuals,” with less than half of your annual budget and an even smaller fraction of that of many environmental advocacy groups (some of whom have employed principle contributors to the IPCC).

    In light of that, your accusations of dark conspiracy sound shrill. You also fail to acknowledge that the document that talks about “introduce ideology disguised as science into our children’s classrooms” is probably a fake. In fact, Gleick’s confession comes after several bloggers identified unique elements of his writing style in the questionable document and fingers began to point at him.

  • Robin

    I’ve read Dr Page’s comments carefully, and must say that I could not be more fully supportive of his words and meanings. One has indeed to wonder at the IPCC establishment’s ideas of summarising some thorough scientific work. How can such things be allowed to happen? Were the scientific authors given the opportunity to read the “Summary” before it was presented to the politicians? I think not. Who indeed was the author of the “Summary”? Did he/she ever actually talk to the scientists whose work they “summarised”? It seems very doubtful.

    Of course we must wait for events to happen – perhaps for ten years – before any degree of practical confidence can be attained in interpreting the data that will be arising in an ever increasing stream. Perhaps a modern and entirely new proxy investigation will be mounted so that the discussions on the reliability of dendrochronological thermometers can be properly undertaken, so that the vexed questions of “declines” and “MWP” can be properly addressed. It is clear that at this moment there is much to be settled. Lets us hope that climatological scientists will see fit to archive fully their data prior to publishing them and the conclusions that they draw from them. Only then will we be sure that established scientific protocol and method have been applied.

  • Adam D

    How does one join the Union of Concerned Scientists? Do you have to be a scientist? Thanks

    Adam D.

    • Ed Reid

      Kenji Watts, faithful dog of Anthony Watts, the proprietor of the wattsupwiththat and surfacestations websites, is a member of the UCC. Apparently, all that is required is a valid credit card and a willingness to be separated from the membership dues.

      • Ed Reid


      • Jim Berry

        I would suggest joining “The Union of Citizens Concerned About Our Scientists”. Send me a $10 check and I’ll send you a membership card.


    • Nathalie Highland

      I’m Nathalie Highland, deputy director of development at UCS–I’m glad to clarify the membership question. UCS is a funded by individual contributions and our members are both scientists and citizens, while the issues we focus on and our policies are based on robust scientific analysis. You can become a member through our website at

  • There is currently a difference in approach to climate science between the sceptical Baconian – empirical appraoch solidly based on data and the Platonic IPCC approach – based on theoretical assumptions built into climate models.The question arises from the recent Muller – BEST furore -What is the best metric for a global measure of and for discussion of global warming or cooling. For some years I have suggested in various web comments and on my blog that the Hadley Sea Surface Temperature data is the best metric for the following reasons . (Anyone can check this data for themselves – Google Hadley Cru — scroll down to SST GL and check the annual numbers.)
    1. Oceans cover about 70% of the surface.
    2. Because of the thermal inertia of water – short term noise is smoothed out.
    3. All the questions re UHI, changes in land use local topographic effects etc are simply sidestepped.
    4. Perhaps most importantly – what we really need to measure is the enthalpy of the system – the land measurements do not capture this aspect because the relative humidity at the time of temperature measurement is ignored. In water the temperature changes are a good measure of relative enthalpy changes.
    5. It is very clear that the most direct means to short term and decadal length predictions is through the study of the interactions of the atmospheric sytems ,ocean currents and temperature regimes – PDO ,ENSO. SOI AMO AO etc etc. and the SST is a major measure of these systems.Certainly the SST data has its own problems but these are much less than those of the land data.

    What does the SST data show? The 5 year moving SST temperature average shows that the warming trend peaked in 2003 and a simple regression analysis shows an eight year global SST cooling trend since then .The data shows warming from 1900 – 1940 ,cooling from 1940 to about 1975 and warming from 1975 – 2003. CO2 levels rose monotonically during this entire period.There has been no net warming since 1997 – 15 years with CO2 up 7.9% and no net warming. Anthropogenic CO2 has some effect but our knowledge of the natural drivers is still so poor that we cannot accurately estimate what the anthropogenic CO2 contribution is. Since 2003 CO2 has risen further and yet the global temperature trend is negative. This is obviously a short term on which to base predictions but all statistical analyses of particular time series must be interpreted in conjunction with other ongoing events and in the context of declining solar magnetic field strength and activity – to the extent of a possible Dalton or Maunder minimum and the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal a global 20 – 30 year cooling spell is more likely than a warming trend.

    It is clear that the IPCC models , on which AL Gore based his entire anti CO2 scare campaign ,have been wrongly framed. and their predictions have failed completely.This paradigm was never well founded ,but ,in recent years, the entire basis for the Climate and Temperature trends and predictions of dangerous warming in the 2007 IPCC Ar4 Summary for Policy Makers has been destroyed. First – this Summary is inconsistent with the AR4 WG1 Science section. It should be noted that the Summary was published before the WG1 report and the editors of the Summary , incredibly ,asked the authors of the Science report to make their reports conform to the Summary rather than the other way around. When this was not done the Science section was simply ignored..
    I give one egregious example – there are many others.Most of the predicted disasters are based on climate models.Even the Modelers themselves say that they do not make predictions . The models produce projections or scenarios which are no more accurate than the assumptions,algorithms and data , often of poor quality,which were put into them. In reality they are no more than expensive drafting tools to produce power point slides to illustrate the ideas and prejudices of their creators. The IPCC science section AR4 WG1 section 8.6.4 deals with the reliability of the climate models .This IPCC science section on models itself concludes:

    “Moreover it is not yet clear which tests are critical for constraining the future projections,consequently a set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate change feedbacks and climate sensitivity has yet to be developed”

    What could be clearer. The IPCC itself says that we don’t even know what metrics to put into the models to test their reliability.- i.e. we don’t know what future temperatures will be and we can’t yet calculate the climate sensitivity to anthropogenic CO2.This also begs a further question of what mere assumptions went into the “plausible” models to be tested anyway. Nevertheless this statement was ignored by the editors who produced the Summary. Here predictions of disaster were illegitimately given “with high confidence.” in complete contradiction to several sections of the WG1 science section where uncertainties and error bars were discussed.

    A key part of the AGW paradigm is that recent warming is unprecedented and can only be explained by anthropogenic CO2. This is the basic message of the iconic “hockey stick ” However hundreds of published papers show that the Medieval warming period and the Roman climatic optimum were warmer than the present. The infamous “hide the decline ” quote from the Climategate Emails is so important. not so much because of its effect on one graph but because it shows that the entire basis if dendrothermometry is highly suspect. A complete referenced discussion of the issues involved can be found in “The Hockey Stick Illusion – Climategate and the Corruption of science ” by AW Montford.

    Temperature reconstructions based on tree ring proxies are a total waste of time and money and cannot be relied on.
    There is no evident empirical correlation between CO2 levels and temperature, In all cases CO2 changes follow temperature changes not vice versa.It has always been clear that the sun is the main climate driver. One new paper ” Empirical Evidence for a Celestial origin of the Climate Oscillations and its implications “by Scafetta from Duke University casts new light on this. Humidity, and natural CO2 levels are solar feedback effects not prime drivers. Recent experiments at CERN have shown the possible powerful influence of cosmic rays on clouds and climate.
    Solar Cycle 24 will peak in a year or two thus masking the cooling to some extent, but from 2014 on, the cooling trend will become so obvious that the IPCC will be unable to continue ignoring the real world – even now Hansen and Trenberth are desperately seeking ad hoc fixes to locate the missing heat

    • Brent Hoare

      With the greatest respect Dr Page, these views seem a little off-topic here. Perhaps you should try out your unlikely arguments on the community over at and see how far you get? Or perhaps you already have?

      • Peter Kovachev

        Mr Hoare, Dr Page provided one of the better summaries of the various critiques, questions and challenges by the quite large skeptical community of scientists. One would imagine that such an outline, which really didn’t take up that much space here, would be welcomed by all, regardless of where they may sit on the spectrum of the climate debate. But I forget, this was never really about science, was it?

        So, with all due respect, Sir, it is actually your flippant suggestion that Dr Page “try out” what you call his “unlikely arguments” at the intentionally misnamed and misleading SkepticalScience blog that is off-topic. Not to mention gratuitously patronizing and insulting, not only to Dr Page, but to our refreshingly tolerant hosts here. Me, if I were an AGW proponent, I would be deeply ashamed to send anyone, even an ideological “enemy,” to such a crass forum. And if I were to run into a skeptical version of a site like SkepticalScience, I would be the first to denounce it and to disassociate from it. No one who visits can mistake it for a science site or for a place for true dialogue. It has a well-deserved reputation for being little more than an echo chamber, a slick, extremely well-funded and still clumsy and shallow PR project by a communicator who rules with a heavy fist, and who attacks and censors “dissenting” comment with strident, bizarre and juvenile personal attacks. A brief glance at the site would confirm to any visitor that Dr Page, or anyone even mildly critical of the pro-AGW position would waste his time and efforts and would gain nothing but jeers and insults from his fruitless experience there. But, of course, you already know this, Mr Hoare.