There was a time in days of olden
When ’twas said that silence is golden
Yet thanks to a scientist, an expert on water
Who dared not speak, though many thought he oughtta
His inactions are leading to conclusions unvarnished
That Gleick, by his silence, has glitter much tarnished!
-hro, Feb 18, 2012 at 9:39 AM (GMT): a contribution to the speculations on the identity of a forger.
What a difference a few days makes in the fast-moving world of the blogosphere. One might, perhaps, summarize these momentous events as the “Fall and Rise of Peter Gleick” … on the wings of a forgery purporting to be a “confidential” document he claims fell into his lap, but which has turned out to have Gleick’s unmistakeable “fingerprints” all over it. Although he may well have had a hidden but helping hand from one of DeSmearBlog’s frequent contributors, mashup artist par excellence, John Mashey.
Steve McIntyre has diligently documented the background and timeline since Gleick – with the assistance of 15 cheerleading chums – launched what they may well have hoped would be a virtual Valentines Day massacre of those at whose views on climate change, aka global warming, they so dearly love to sneer and smear.
Sneering and smearing are not exactly my idea of the best way to win friends and influence people – nor to convince any thinking person of the righteousness of one’s “cause”, let alone one’s science. But what do I know, eh?! After all, I’m not a self-declared – or MSM fabricated (e.g. railroad engineer, and man of many hats, IPCC Chair Ranjendra Pachauri) – “climate expert”.
OTOH, Gleick (at least in the world according to Gleick, and that’s the only one that matters, isn’t it?!) is an “internationally recognized climate and water expert [who] works at the intersection of science and policy, including issues related to the integrity of science”. I learned this important detail about Gleick back in October, when I came across his “review” of Donna Laframboise’s The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert (TDT).
I can’t vouch for any other books Gleick may or – may not – have read; but based on his “review” of TDT, as I had noted in my post, he gave no indication that he had read TDT, or that he had the slightest clue what the book is about. Drive-by sneer and smear rant, followed by a few temper tantrums elsewhere is probably the most apt summary of his abysmal, disrespectful and unprofessional performances.
It became quite obvious that substantiating his assertions is a lesson Gleick seems not to have learned during the course of his brilliant career. But, to be fair, it’s a lesson that seems to have eluded many of the leading lights on the warm-side. And, as Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. reminded us in a recent post, Gleick (in conjunction with Kevin Trenberth and John Abraham) is never loath to cast unwarranted and malicious aspersions on those whose work does not support his own view of the world:
[…] the recent behavior […] of Peter Gleick, co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California, involving the Heartland Institute is just another example of the often vitriolic and unseemly behavior by some to discredit what are appropriate alternative viewpoints on the climate issue. Unfortunately, the attitude towards the Heartland Institute displayed by Peter Gleick is just another example of an attitude that pervades a significant number of individuals in the leadership of the climate science community. [emphasis added -hro]
It is sad, but not surprising, that after reviewing Trenberth, Abraham and Gleick’s September 2011 very public ‘hatchet job’ on Roy Spencer and John Christy, Dr. Pielke had concluded:
Roy Spencer is hardly discredited because there are papers that disagree with his analysis and conclusions. This will sort itself out in the peer-reviewed literature after he has an opportunity to respond with a follow on paper, and/or a Comment/Reply exchange. Similarly, John Christy can respond to the Santer et al paper that is referred to in the Trenberth et al article.
What is disturbing, however, in the Trenberth et al article is its tone and disparagement of two outstanding scientists. Instead of addressing the science issues, they resort to statements such as Spencer and Christy making “serial mistakes”. This is truly a hatchet job and will only further polarize the climate science debate. [emphasis in original -hro]
The Climategate emails revealed another aspect of this brilliant diamond in the rough, as I had discovered a few weeks ago. In Gleick’s world (shared by such luminaries as Phil Jones, Michael Mann and the late, great communicator, Stephen Schneider), the professional and scientific response when learning that a journal peer reviewer has requested data and code is: “Yuck“. FWIW, from Jones’s reply, there may well have been “consensus” on this.
Unlike the NYT‘s Andrew Revkin, or the U.K. Guardian‘s Suzanne Goldenberg and Leo Hickman, for whom fact-checking and provenance confirmation is – for all intents and purposes – anathema when it comes to matters enironmental, Megan McArdle of the Atlantic has been following this story and <gasp> asking questions, as a journalist should.
McArdle readily acknowledges her green-tinted glasses; but she does not permit her vision to become as clouded and biased by advocacy as Revkin, Goldenberg or Hickman. Here are some excerpts from McArdle’s thoughts on Gleick’s “confession”:
Feb 21 2012, 5:36 PM ET
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 […]
Gleick has done enormous damage to his cause and his own reputation, and it’s no good to say that people shouldn’t be focusing on it. If his judgement is this bad, how is his judgement on matters of science? For that matter, what about the judgement of all the others in the movement who apparently see nothing worth dwelling on in his actions?
After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.
[emphasis added -hro]
Is it not about time that Revkin, Goldenberg and Hickman – not to mention the BBC’s Richard Black – began asking themselves whatever happened to their practice of journalistic ethics. Or is it the case that they are also so dedicated to “the cause” that objectivity and due diligence prior to publishing just don’t occur to them when it comes to environmental matters?
Instead of uncritically echoing and acting as virtual cheer-leaders for Gleick’s unconscionable forgery, why aren’t they investigating and reporting on the funding, budgets and mission of the BIG players with such BIG bucks in their pockets, that they probably wouldn’t even miss the dollars Heartland has at its disposal if someone were to abscond with the funds.
Surely Laframboise’s The Delinquent Teenager … an exposé of the IPCC and/or Andrew Montford’s Nullius in Verba, a review of the descent of the U.K.’s Royal Society, are far more deserving of being brought to their readers’ attention than pretending that the contents of a slanderous document, the provenance of which they didn’t even bother to check are worth promulgating.
So much for “journalistic ethics” at the New York Times, the Guardian and the BBC.
As for Gleick’s “ethics” and “integrity”, I think Dr. Judith Curry summed it best when she wrote:
When ‘Heartlandgate’ first broke, I saw no parallels with Climategate. Now, with the involvement of Gleick, there most certainly are parallels. There is the common theme of climate scientists compromising personal and professional ethics, integrity, and responsibility, all in the interests of a ’cause’.
On the one hand, Climategate involved a large number of people that were involved in the IPCC. Apart from the FOI avoidance that was arguably criminal, everyone seems to have been ‘cleared’ by the various investigations. On the other hand, Gleick is only one person, but his actions are far more serious, particularly if they involve fabrication of a document. [emphasis added -hro]
Dr. Curry then provides an example of the “response” from Gleick’s good buddy, Scott Mandia of the “Climate Rapid Response Team”:
…”Heartland has been subverting well-understood science for years,” wrote Scott Mandia, co-founder of the climate science rapid response team. “They also subvert the education of our school children by trying to ;’teach the controversy’ where none exists.”He went on: “Peter Gleick, a scientist who is also a journalist just used the same tricks that any investigative reporter uses to uncover the truth. He is the hero and Heartland remains the villain. He will have many people lining up to support him.”
Lining up to support him, eh?! Wow! What a guy! Such integrity and high “ethics”. And because he’s a both a scientist and a “journalist” no doubt the “tricks” take on a whole new and wholesome meaning. But Mandia is definitely “on message” … Gleick should probably be a candidate for beatification on account of his dedication above and beyond the call of duty.
As Dr. Curry had concluded:
The climate insanity factor has just jumped upwards a big notch.
My own take on this “confession”? First some thoughts on the role of the press:
What I find most ironic about Revkin’s reporting of Gleick’s “confession”, is his failure to acknowledge his own role (along with that of his U.K. counterparts) by jumping to publish the original story without any due diligence or attempt to verify. Although, as Steve McIntyre note in his timeline Revkin did subsequently “disappear” his post – and at least one “tweet”.
Does he seriously think that media reporting on climate/environmental/sustainability issues has not also sustained a deep self-inflicted wound?! From his response to one of the comments on his post, I’d say he’s oblivious:
[Gleick] has done excellent analysis of water issues and I’ve credited him for daring to blog on skeptic turf in Forbes.com. I’ve cited him off and on literally for decades. But he’s undone much of this here, to my mind. He handed his enemies a huge heap of raw meat with this act and they’ll feed on it — through our polarized politics — for a long time to come. It’s tragic, to my mind. [emphasis added -hro]
Will we ever see acknowledgments and apologies from Revkin, Hickman, Goldenberg, Black and their ilk? So far, they seem to be carrying on – pretending that there is no egg on their respective faces.
Here’s my brief translation of Gleick’s very carefully crafted “confession“: It seemed to be written in the unmistakable – and ubiquitous – “key of Mann” i.e. ‘Well, yes, I was wrong to do this; but it doesn’t affect the “truth” of my claims about the evil forces of darkness (which I’m repeating here just for good measure)’.
As an aside, speaking of Michael Mann … I’m not sure what mode of transportation he’s beein using, but he’s been popping up all over the place, flogging his latest opus which, based on what I’ve read or heard him say, would be more aptly titled: Portrait of the Artist as an Aggrieved Mann. But I digress …
On the blogs, there was considerable surprise that Gleick had “confessed” to obtaining the Heartland Institute’s documents by impersonating a board member but neither confirming nor denying that he was the forger. Some wondered how he could be so stupid as to do this. But I agree with Steve Mosher (who found most of Gleick’s “fingerprints”) and also observed:
Gl[ei]ck isn’t intelligent. He is a genius. That means he thinks he is too smart to get caught. Dumb people fear getting caught. A dumb person would say ” I dont know enough about computers, I might get caught”. A genius, a gold star winning genius on the other hand, thinks he knows everything. Thinks he is too smart to get caught.
Contrary to his plea that it was “frustration” that made him do the dastardly deeds, Gleick’s self-inflicted wounds can be attributed (with a high level of confidence by IPCC standards) to his very high opinion of himself – along with his very low opinion of those who happen to disagree with him.
This became quite clear to me from his behaviours pursuant to his “review” of The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert.
Add to this his very vocal, arrogant, pit-bull and longstanding antipathy towards Heartland and the over-riding lack of humility in his “confession”, such as it was – not to mention the conspicuous absence of any specific details pertaining to his transgressions, compared to the repetition of the ‘truth’ of his claims regarding the evil forces of darkness.
How should one translate “At the beginning of 2012″ from Gleick-speak? And when did he do his impersonation act? Surely some dates would have been helpful – and would have added a modicum of credibility to the protestations in his “confession”.
Yet – totally out of character for one who so readily and frequently appeals to his own authority, and expects others to defer thereto – he seems to have been advised to opt for the (more sustainable?!) plausible deniability conferred by his frequent use of creative ambiguity.
Was his impersonation act conducted via landline, cell or E-mail?
And why did he not disclose the names of the “set of journalists and experts working on climate issues”? How very noble of him to protect the 15 … uh … “fences” he probably (as defined by the IPCC) knew he could count on to peddle his forgery and/or stolen goods, eh?
He certainly succeeded in generating enough blog and MSM coverage that at the AAAS Annual Meeting held in Vancouver – which just happened to end Feb. 20 – the AAAS president was sufficiently “alarmed” to echo and amplify Gleick’s “concerns”.
Consider the Guardian‘s banner:
Researchers attending one of the world’s major academic conferences ‘are scared to death of the anti-science lobby’
[and underneath pic of obligatory polar bear:]
The vast majority of scientists on both sides of the Atlantic say rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere threaten to increase temperatures to dangerous levels.
Most scientists, on achieving high office, keep their public remarks to the bland and reassuring. Last week Nina Fedoroff, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), broke ranks in a spectacular manner.
She confessed that she was now “scared to death” by the anti-science movement that was spreading, uncontrolled, across the US and the rest of the western world.
“We are sliding back into a dark era,” she said. “And there seems little we can do about it. I am profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms.”
Was AAAS president Federoff one of the 15 “fences” – or perhaps one of the 15 had “teleconnections” to Federoff?!
YMMV, but I see nothing in any of the above that gives me any reason to believe that Gleick’s carefully crafted “confession” consists of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Looks like he still thinks he’s “too smart to get caught”.
Mind you, I still think Gleick may have had a helping hand from Mashey in pasting together the obviously fake memo with his very own “fingerprints” all over it – regardless of what he may (or may not) have received in the mail “at the beginning of 2012″
So what might have precipitated Gleick’s choices, apart from his very high opinion his robust mastery of the skills of deception which would, no doubt, shield him from getting caught – at least in his opinion? And of course, in the event that he did get caught, and could not smother the questions with his silence, well … he could simply excuse himself by blaming those he was targeting via recycling a recitation of his fabrications.
Hey, it’s always worked in the past for these noble climate scientists. Why should it stop working now? Gleick knew he could count on his 15 “fences” to come to the aid of his party. They will step up to the plate and eliminate the negative while manufacturing the positive … hmmm … kinda like many actions on the part of some climate scientists and their army of willing apologists! But this is a subject for another post on another day!
It is somewhat telling that Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) – who have done much to promote the so-called “overwhelming scientific consensus” – echoing Gleick, gives away the new, improved, advocacy message with his take on the matter which, apart from repeating the claims derived from Gleick’s forgery,
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.
Doesn’t your heart just bleed?! But, notice how the message has been reframed!
Gone is “overwhelming scientific consensus” which appears to be yielding to a new, improved mantra:
The science about climate change is clear, but the debate about how to respond to it is broken
Knobloch evidently has:
more than 30 years of experience in public policy and advocacy. He is an expert on a number of environmental and national security issues, including climate change, nuclear weapons, natural resource economics, clean energy, and efficient vehicle policy and legislative strategy. He holds a master’s degree in public administration, with a focus on economics.
Was it his “30 years of experience in advocacy” or his masters in public administration that made him an “expert” on climate change, so that he could declare so confidently that “the science is clear”. Oh, well, maybe he developed his “expertise” by osmosis via press releases from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But I digress …
I wonder how long it will take before the mantra is abbreviated to the shorter, punchier “The science is clear, but the debate is broken”.
And I’m not entirely sure how:
- a subject so clouded miraculously became “clear”
- a debate that Gleick and other activists and advocates been doing their very best to avoid – if not declare “over” – can be “broken”
But I’m not holding my CO2 in anticipation of an explanation that would, well, hold water:-)
In the meantime … isn’t it good to know that (according to the UCS, and given their connections to the approved climatalogical luminaries, they should know), those who do dare to differ – or Gaia forbid, dissent – are no longer funded by Big Oil, but by evil-minded anti-science lobbyists who are funded by a cartel of heretofore unknown Big Business.
Also, evidently, the d-word has lost its efficacy. Henceforth, dissenters (and probably those who dare to question the newly pronounced “clarity”) are deemed to be “anti-science”.
Clearly, as a teachable moment, Gleickgate – not unlike Climategate – did not make the cut for those on the warm-side.