The PJ Tatler

Peter Gleick Admits He Obtained Fakegate Documents by 'Deception', Heartland Responds

Just in, see Andy Revkin’s blog:

Peter H. Gleick, a water and climate analyst who has been studying aspects of global warming for more than two decades, in recent years became an aggressive critic of organizations and individuals casting doubt on the seriousness of greenhouse-driven climate change. He used blogs,congressional testimonygroup letters and other means to make his case.

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. His summary, just published on his blog at Huffington Post, speaks for itself.


Gleick, in a blog post at Huffington Port, says:

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.

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.

There may be more to this story, however.  I’ve been aware that there was an very active investigation already in progress, and I can now reveal that it had been narrowing down on Gleick from early on.  I just talked with Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That, who passed this along:

Steven Mosher first noticed language similarities, and language analysis is what led many of us studying the event to conclude Dr. Gleick was the main person of interest. Comparisons of his writing style from language specialists as well as software show strong similarities to the faked document and strongly suggest that he authored it.


On his own blog, Anthony adds:

For the record Dr. Gleick, I am not “anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated” as you suggest. And you have damaged me and my business. I suspect I’ll be seeing you in court to protect my rights, along with many others, sir.

A statement from Heartland Institute is expected momentarily.  I’ve asked DeSmogBlog for comment, but haven’t received a response yet.

Update (21:52 Mountain Time Monday)

While we wait for the Heartland institute statement, Judith Curry makes an interesting point:

Gleick on integrity:

I even referenced his testimony in my uncertainty monster paper.

My first interaction with Gleick was he invited me to speak in an AGU session that he was organizing on the integrity of science, my presentation can be found here.

He has made it known to me via email that he has been displeased with my “behavior.”   I seem to have gotten his goat to have been mentioned in the fake Heartland strategy doc (hard to believe that he didn’t write this).

The irony of it all, this coming from a scientist that has made a particular point about integrity and written many essays and even testified to congress on the subject.

It will be interesting to see how his position on scientific integrity is evaluated in the future.


Update (22:09 Mountain Time Mon)

Heartland Institute has now responded. Here’s the Heartland statement, via Anthony Watts’ blog:

FEBRUARY 20, 2012: Earlier this evening, Peter Gleick, a prominent figure in the global warming movement, confessed to stealing electronic documents from The Heartland Institute in an attempt to discredit and embarrass a group that disagrees with his views.

Gleick’s crime was a serious one. The documents he admits stealing contained personal information about Heartland staff members, donors, and allies, the release of which has violated their privacy and endangered their personal safety.

An additional document Gleick represented as coming from The Heartland Institute, a forged memo purporting to set out our strategies on global warming, has been extensively cited by newspapers and in news releases and articles posted on Web sites and blogs around the world. It has caused major and permanent damage to the reputations of The Heartland Institute and many of the scientists, policy experts, and organizations we work with.

A mere apology is not enough to undo the damage.

In his statement, Gleick claims he committed this crime because he believed The Heartland Institute was preventing a “rational debate” from taking place over global warming. This is unbelievable. Heartland has repeatedly asked for real debate on this important topic. Gleick himself was specifically invited to attend a Heartland event to debate global warming just days before he stole the documents. He turned down the invitation.

Gleick also claims he did not write the forged memo, but only stole the documents to confirm the content of the memo he received from an anonymous source. This too is unbelievable. Many independent commentators already have concluded the memo was most likely written by Gleick.

We hope Gleick will make a more complete confession in the next few days.

We are consulting with legal counsel to determine our next steps and plan to release a more complete statement about the situation tomorrow. In the meantime, we ask again that publishers, bloggers, and Web site hosts take the stolen and fraudulent documents off their sites, remove defamatory commentary based on them, and issue retractions. [Emphasis added.]


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