Climatologist Peter Gleick with the Pacific Institute has admitted to obtaining documents from the conservative advocacy group, the Heartland Institute, through a fake name and leaking them to the press. The confession will likely land him in legal trouble with the organization, since Heartland has already threatened to take legal action against bloggers and journalists covering the story. The leaked documents highlighted a plan to teach climate change as a “scientific controversy,” revealed that a number of well-known climate denialists receive lucrative payments from the non-profit, and showed who is financing the non-profit, including an anonymous donor who funds the bulk of the organization’s work on climate.
Gleick made the admission on his blog post on Huffington Post stating that he “received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy.” The document was the climate strategy memo that Heartland Institute insists is a fake.
Peter Gleick. Courtesy of the Pacific Institute
According to Gleick, after receiving the anonymous document in the mail, he took the next step of using a fake name to obtain Heartland Institute documents through email.
“In a serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under a pseudonym. 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 writes, adding that he made “no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.”
Gleick goes on to write that the on-going politicization of climate science in part pushed him to target the Heartland Institute deceptively.
“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.”
Of course, ironically, Gleick’s actions will likely only politicize climate science further.
Beyond the scandal and it’s newest revelations, nearly all climate scientists, as well as the world’s major scientific institutions, agree that the Earth is warming and human activities are the primary driver. Since the Industrial Revolution global temperatures have risen 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit). Governments around the world have committed to keep overall warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), however current pledges of greenhouse gas emissions are far below the amount needed to meet that target.