BREAKING: Peter Gleick admits admits he’s the one who assumed a false identity and emailed Heartland so he could steal their private documents. His apology marks, finally, a small turning point in the PR scandal and ethical vacuum.
UPDATE: So when will DeSmog retract it’s false claim the documents came from “an insider”? When will they admit they were fooled, didn’t bother to check the veracity, and don’t care about putting out accurate information?
His answer doesn’t quite put all the pieces together. The fake document has a timestamp just prior to DeSmog and others releasing it, so it is not the “anonymous document” he refers too.
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.
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. I can explicitly confirm, as can the Heartland Institute, that the documents they emailed to me are identical to the documents that have been made public. I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication.
I will not comment on the substance or implications of the materials; others have and are doing so. I only note that the scientific understanding of the reality and risks of climate change is strong, compelling, and increasingly disturbing, and a rational public debate is desperately needed. 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.
Andy Revkin get’s it right:
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.
One way or the other, Gleick’s use of deception in pursuit of his cause after years of calling out climate deception has destroyed his credibility and harmed others. (Some of the released documents contain information about Heartland employees that has no bearing on the climate fight.) That is his personal tragedy and shame (and I’m sure devastating for his colleagues, friends and family).
The broader tragedy is that his decision to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland has greatly set back any prospects of the country having the “rational public debate” that he wrote — correctly — is so desperately needed.
Whoever it was that created the fake document is still out there. DeSmog still think that deception and fake information is “useful”. Every day that they post the documents they show how few scruples they have, how bad their judgement is, and desperate they have become to smear the small team who are winning the debate on the science. These stolen and fraudulent documents don’t tell us anything about the planetary climate, but they do tell us how comfortable the alarmist PR team is to cheat and lie.