Peter Gleick Steals Heartland Climate Science Information

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012


Who is Peter Gleick? From his Wikipedia page:

Dr. Peter H. Gleick (born 1956) is a scientist working on issues related to the environment, economic development, international security, and scientific ethics and integrity[1], with a focus on global freshwater challenges. He works at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, which he co-founded in 1987. In 2003 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for his work on water resources. Among the issues he has addressed are conflicts over water resources [2], the impacts of climate change on water resources, the human right to water, and the problems of the billions of people without safe, affordable, and reliable water and sanitation. In 2006 he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Wait, what?  The National Academy of Sciences scientist Peter Gleick stole documents from a conservative Think Tank? Your tax dollars at work!

Meghan McArdle gets to it:

The very, very best thing that one can say about this is that this would be an absolutely astonishing lapse of judgement for someone in their mid-twenties, and is truly flabbergasting coming from a research institute head in his mid-fifties.  

Let’s walk through the thought process:

You receive an anonymous memo in the mail purporting to be the secret climate strategy of the Heartland Institute.  It is not printed on Heartland Institute letterhead, has no information identifying the supposed author or audience, contains weird locutions more typical of Heartland’s opponents than of climate skeptics, and appears to have been written in a somewhat slapdash fashion.  Do you:
A.  Throw it in the trash
B.  Reach out to like-minded friends to see how you might go about confirming its provenance
C.  Tell no one, but risk a wire-fraud conviction, the destruction of your career, and a serious PR blow to your movement by impersonating a Heartland board member in order to obtain confidential documents.
As a journalist, I am in fact the semi-frequent recipient of documents promising amazing scoops, and depending on the circumstances, my answer is always “A” or “B”, never “C”.
It’s a gross violation of journalistic ethics, though perhaps Gleick would argue that he’s not a journalist–and in truth, it’s hard to feel too sorry for Heartland, given how gleefully they embraced the ClimateGate leaks.  So leave ethics aside: wasn’t he worried that impersonating board members in order to obtain confidential material might be, I don’t know, illegal?  Forget about the morality of it: the risk is all out of proportion to the possible reward.
Why, it’s almost as if leftist scientists live be the credo “by any means necessary” or something. Now, I wonder if a guy willing to do this would falsify data, you know, for the greater good?