Gleick and the green factor$

Well, I’m still waiting, as are others, for the MSM luminaries – who were so quick to publish what has now been unequivocally established as the contents of an obvious forgery – to apologize for their ethical failure in not verifying the provenance of the document purported to have originated from The Heartland Institute (HI).

So, I thought it might be interesting to stroll down some avenues that others do not yet appear to have explored.

I wonder if these journolites™ happened to see Dr. Judith Curry’s Feb. 24 post, in which she had posed the question: Why target Heartland?. This post resulted in an E-mail from HI’s Joe Bast, which Dr. Curry subsequently appended to her post with the observation that:

With virtually no effort on my part (beyond reading an email, cutting and pasting into the blog post), I have uncovered “juicier stuff” about Heartland than anything Gleick uncovered. Okay, maybe the HI are actually the baddest guys in town from the perspective of the alarmists. The irony of Gleick committing professional seppuku over getting information about stuff that is either generally known or suspected or regarded as no big deal. When all he had to do was ask Joseph Bast some questions, and he would have told him all sorts of things (just not the names of the donors, which aren’t all that interesting anyways.) [emphasis added -hro]

So why did Gleick do it?

That he had a rather longstanding dislike of the very fact of the perfectly legal activities and existence of “think tanks” is not in dispute. What has reinforced this particular conclusion, apart from his venom towards HI – or indeed any who do not share his view of the world – is the very high praise he had uttered via twitter for the contents of a blog called “Climate Ethics“.

His tell-tale tweet:

Sun 1/22 10:46 – Tweets “Fantastic analysis and essay on climate ethics here:!/petergleick

This page might best be characterized as the extension of the “Protocols of the Elders of Climate”. You would not believe the extent to which the author stretches in his mission to demonize “think tanks”. No wonder Gleick thought it was a “fantastic analysis and essay”. Here’s an example:

This is the fourth and last entry in a series that has examined the climate change disinformation campaign as an ethical matter. The purpose of this series has been to distinguish between responsible scientific skepticism, an approach to climate change science that should be encouraged, and the tactics of the climate change disinformation campaign, strategies deployed to undermine mainstream climate change science that are often deeply ethically offensive.

Gleick’s Feb. 20 “confession”, as I had mentioned previously was very carefully crafted and wrapped in a fog of creative ambiguity.

Needless to say, since the 20th, those in the skeptic blogosphere have been amazingly productive in sweeping the virtual scene for more “fingerprints” – and much has been discovered, with plausible narratives emerging. I did my own chronology a few days ago, after Steve McIntyre had posted the chain of correspondence between HI’s Jim Lakely and Gleick.

Gleick and HI’s James Taylor both write blog columns at Forbes (although I doubt that Gleick is still writing for Forbes). On Jan. 12, in a comment on Taylor’s post, Gleick had challenged Taylor to provide HI’s list of donors – a list which, IMHO, should have been none of his business; but, as Steve had noted:

On Jan 13, Jim Lakely of Heartland invited Gleick to participate in their forthcoming 28th Anniversary Dinner, a dinner that would be attended by Heartland’s supporters and donors. It would presumably have been an opportunity for Gleick to persuade his opponents. Heartland offered Gleick a charitable contribution of $5,000 to the charity of his choice

Gleick replied on Jan 16th; he neither accepted nor declined the invitation, but he thought he’d make another attempt to get HI’s list of funders. His response included:

In order for me to consider this invitation, please let me know if the Heartland Institute publishes its financial records and donors for the public and where to find this information. Such transparency is important to me when I am offered a speaking fee (or in this case, a comparable donation to a charity). My own institution puts this information on our website.

Lakely replied on the 17th – reminding Gleick that:

I’m sure you’ve seen James M. Taylor’s response to the funding questions at – a question he has answered publicly many times. In short: We used to publicly list our donors by name, but stopped a few years ago, in part, because people who disagree with The Heartland Institute decided to harass our donors in person and via email.


as you know, we are under no legal obligation to release a detailed list of our donors – nor is any other non-profit organization. Our 990 forms are in full compliance with the IRS. [emphasis added -hro]

Gleick took a full 10 days to “give serious consideration” to Lakely’s invite before declining.

He chose to completely ignore Lakely’s reasonable explanation of why HI does not disclose the names of its donors.

Here’s Gleick’s primary “reason” for his Jan. 27 … uh … decline:

Perhaps more importantly, the lack of transparency about the financial support for the Heartland Institute is at odds with my belief in transparency, especially when your institute and its donors benefit from major tax breaks at the expense of the public.

No doubt in the “ethical” world according to Gleick, it’s OK for his non-profit organization’s donors to “benefit from major tax breaks” but not for HI’s. But that aside, I certainly do wonder what might have been going on behind closed screens during Gleick’s ten days of “serious consideration”.

Jan. 27 appears to have been a somewhat busy day for Gleick. He turned down an invitation to debate; a “debate” which on Feb. 20 he declared needed to happen. In so doing, he also declined a perfect opportunity to meet and greet the funders whose names had become so important to him.

That same day, Gleick published a whine on his Forbes blog. Evidently, he wasn’t very happy that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had chosen to publish a letter from Dr. Richard Lindzen and 15 other scientists. And – no doubt adding insult to injury – according to Gleick, the WSJ had dared to decline to publish a missive from Gleick and 254 friends.

But what Gleick conveniently neglected to mention is that this allegedly declined missive from the gang of 255 pertained to an article published in Science on May 7, 2010. Funny that he doesn’t mention this date during the course of his whine, eh?

Nor did he give any reason on Jan 27/2012 why the WSJ should have been obliged to publish the piece from the gang of 255 on May 7/2010. If you read the 2010 article, it’s merely an attempt to bolster the – by then – rapidly declining credibility of the IPCC. It began with a recitation of the big scare:

For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet

and continued with a repetition of the mantra that salvation of the planet depends on action now, along with the frequently repeated unsubstantiated allegations of “harassment” etc. of these poor beleaguered “climate scientists”.

This was also the day he embarked on his phishing expedition during which he cast his net several times: first on Jan. 27 and finally on Feb. 6. Hmmm …. another 10 day time lapse. Feb. 8 Hmmm … a twelve day time lapse.

UPDATE: It’s worse than I thought! Above edit 02/29/2012 07:58 PM PDT [h/t Paul Matthews’ “Copner’s Gleick Timeline“]

At any time along the way, he could have checked his moral compass (assuming he has one) and seen that he was sailing in the wrong direction. Had he done so, he would have headed back to port, contacted HI and turned himself in! But this was not the choice Gleick made.

Yet on Feb. 17 – a mere 3 days after the botched virtual Valentines Day massacre – out of the blue, the U.K. Guardian very obligingly made available* the undated “An Open Letter to the Heartland Institute” purportedly written and signed by 7 noble climate scientists (with Gleick’s name being as conspicuously absent as those of the CRU crew on the 2009 Statement in the immediate aftermath of Climategate).

This “open letter” not only echoed the claims in the forged “strategy” doc, but also laid out the false equivalence to Climategate, interspersed with what some might consider to be a restatement of the May 7/10 article allegedly rejected by the WSJ – incorporating the “principles” and buzzwords offered by what Gleick might well have gleaned from the “fantastic analysis and essay” he had spotted on Jan. 22.


There’s something else that’s rather odd about this very speedily written “Open Letter”. In his analysis of the forged document, Joe Bast notes:

I always capitalize the “T” in “The Heartland Institute,” the author of this [forged] memo did not.

The undated “Open Letter …” at the Guardian contains no actual signatures, just a list of 7 names and their academic affiliations. Yet there are 9 instances throughout this document of “the Heartland Institute”. Hmmm … Must be coincidence.

Some have postulated that Gleick was driven by “anger” or “fear”. Indeed his own “confession” suggested such a rationale for his behaviours. But I think it may be something completely different.

Consider the following from their respective Form 990 “Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax”

The Heartland Institute, founded 1984. 2010 Revenue $6,074,947 [Source]

Pacific Institute, founded 1987. 2010 Revenue $2,288,518 [Source]

Until his recent self-aggrandizing escapades which probably began circa August 2011 with his active involvement in l’affaire Wagner (as noted in my earlier post) Gleick was a relatively unknown little pisher in the Big Green Pond.

His claim to “international expert” fame was as a “water” man, not a “climate” guy. And his organization‘s “mission” gives the impression of being far more dedicated to “sustainable development” than to pushing the putative perils of “dangerous” climate change.

Considering the extended timelines I noted above, I fail to see how a credible case can be made that Gleick had reached a “tipping point” and that his behaviours can legitimately be construed – as he and his army of apologists lamely attempt to portray them – as the consequence of a mere temporary lapse of judgment.

Could it be that – notwithstanding his MacArthur “genius” status (which makes him “too smart to get caught”) and his apparent lack of a functional moral compass – Gleick is afflicted, if not driven, by chronic green envy?

From pisher to phisher in less than a year. What a legacy, eh?!

5 thoughts on “Gleick and the green factor$

  1. I keep getting stuck on “capitalize the ‘T’ in Heartland Institute”. Say what? Where? What’s that nonsense all about? ‘HearTland’??

    Or maybe one of the Ts in “institute”??
    Seriously weird.

    • No, Brian! The “branding” of HI is “The Heartland Institute”. On the forgery, it is written (albeit the fullname name appears only once) as “the Heartland Institute”.

      Gleick’s org is “Pacific Institute”. So when he writes about his own org, he quite correctly would write “yada, yada, the Pacific Institute” [rather than “yada, yada, The Pacific Institute”]

      In the “open letter”, “the Heartland Institute” appears nine times when whoever crafted it should have written “The Heartland Institute”.

      Get it, now?! As I had noted in my post, it may be purely coincidental, but I thought it was worth a mention!

      P.S. I can’t believe I really had to explain this to you of all people ;-)

  2. It is morbidly fascinating to play “theory of mind” scenarios of what was going on within G. during that 10-day hiatus in responding to the HI invite. I suppose it is (minutely) to G.’s credit that he resisted his own rationalization engines that long before responding. OTOH, he may have just caved in to abject fear of the shellacking he’d have taken in any such debate.

    But he was clearly busy-busy with his defamation scheme preparations during that period, too.

    And then being “fingered” by Mosher et al., and having to fess up to a ‘serious error of judgment’ driven by ‘frustration’. What a mental demolition derby he put himself through!!

  3. I know it sounds paranoid, but, I can’t help but think that Gleick was pushing for a bigger role in the climate debate. At the same time he was working Heartland, the Global Warming Policy Foundation was being pressured in Britain: “Climate scientists will call on a British judge to disclose the identity of the seed funder to Lord Lawson’s climate sceptic think tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation” (Jan 23) This effort was backed by James Hansen, John Abraham and Naomi Oreskes amongst others.

    The hearing heard “THERE IS “enormous public interest” in naming the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation’s seed donor and “a pressing need to scrutinise” any links he has with the oil and coal industry, an information tribunal judge heard today (Friday, January 27, 2012).” Further support was raised by those who signed a letter published by a newspaper (I can’t remember which) “Dr Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal; Dr Richard Horton, editor in chief of the Lancet; Hugh Montgomery, professor of intensive care medicine; Anthony Costello, professor of international child health; Rachel Stancliffe, director of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare; Dr Robin Stott, co-chair of the Climate and Health Council and Maya Tickell-Painter, director of the Medsin Healthy Planet Campaign, have publicly supported the Freedom of Information request, although this does not form part of the hearing.”

    By Jan 30th the requestinitiative site reported “The climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation is a “highly connected political lobbying machine” and the Charity Commission should therefore disclose the name of its seed funder…” DeSmogblog, along with others, reported on the proceedings while the Guardian “published two letters on the day of the tribunal signed by scientists and experts supporting Mr Montague’s request…”

    Too coincidental?

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