Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oh What A Tangled Web AGW Fanatics Weave . . .

The Heartland Institute is a tiny libertarian think tank that does a yeomans' job of promoting the many studies and scientific findings that run contrary to the global warming dogma. They run on a shoestring annual budget of $6 million and employ all of 40 people. And yet by pointing out the chinks in the AGW armor, they have become a huge thorn in the side of those who want all to accept unquestioningly the canard of man-made global warming.

A weak ago, on Valentine's Day, there was an "anonymous leak" of documents originating from the Heartland Institute, including one damning "2012 strategy" document that conveniently proved all the things the AGW fanatic crowd just knew to be true about evil global warming deniers - my own personal favorite being that Heartland was conspiring to stop k-12 grades from "teaching science." Within hours of the release, warmie blogs were awash with the news, twitter was on fire with it, and Suzanne Goldenberg wrote an article at the Guardian, highlighting all the juicy bits from the strategy document.

Except . . . it wasn't a "leak," and Heartland claimed that the damning "2012 strategy" document was a forgery. As to the "strategy" document, numerous people pulled that apart to see if it would withstand scrutiny. Megan McArdle at the Atlantic published the best analysis of why the "strategy" document did not appear at all genuine based on technical evidence, along with a follow-up. As to the substance of what appeared in the strategy document, Steve MacIntyre at Climate Audit evaluated its authenticity and found it to be sorely lacking:

On or before Feb 13, the “unknown person” or an associate (who subsequently called himself Heartland Insider), fabricated a document entitled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy Memo”. Its pdf version was created on Feb 13 at 12:41 Pacific time.

Although media that were duped by the fake memo have tried to argue that its contents are fully supported by the board documents, in my opinion, numerous claims in the fake memo, including the money quotes that animated so many articles, are readily seen to be unsupported by the unfabricated documents, as well as being untrue.

1. The fake memo stated that Heartland planned to develop a Global Warming curriculum aimed at “dissuading teachers from teaching science”. This damning phrase occurs nowhere in the board documents or elsewhere.

2. The fake memo put the Koch foundation, prominent in climate activist demonology, in a place of particular prominence and stated that it was funding Heartland’s climate programs to the tune of $200,000 in 2011 and that greater contributions were being sought in 2012. In fact, Koch had contributed only $25,000 to Heartland’s Health Care (HCN) program in 2011 and $200,000 was being sought for this program in 2012. (Quite aside from other marks of forgery, it is inconceivable to me that Bast would make this sort of error in a board memo.)

3. The fake memo stated that Heartland was seeking contributions for their climate programs “especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies”. There is no support for this in the document and it appears to be untrue: the board documents show that Heartland’s climate activities were almost entirely financed by an individual.

4. The fake memo exaggerated the scale of Heartland’s climate programs. It said that they sponsored NIPCC to “undermine” the IPCC (a term not used in the actual documents and a word more characteristic of activist than skeptical literature) and that, additionally, it “paid a team of writers” to produce editions of Climate Change Reconsidered (actual documents – team 0f “scientists”, double-counting the expenditures.

5. The fake memo said that it was “important to keep opposing voices out” of Forbes, which was characterized as having previously been “reliably anti-climate”, but which had now begun “to allow high-profile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own”. There is nothing remotely supporting this assertion in board documents or elsewhere. The anomalous prominence of Gleick (as opposed to the more logical Hansen, Gore or Mann, Jones and the Climategaters) attracted attention in later commentary.

6. The fake memo said that Heartland was coordinating “with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts”, a sort of skeptic answer to the Climate Rapid Response Team of Scott Mandia, John Abraham and Peter Gleick. There is nothing in the actual documents to support this.

7. The fake memo proposed the cultivation of “more neutral voices” such as Revkin and Curry, an idea that surprised both Revkin and Curry and which is not supported in the actual documents.

8. The fake memo gave the impression of “increased” activity in 2012, describing Heartland as “part of a growing network of groups working the climate issues, some of which [they] support financially”, whereas the actual documents showed reduced activity in 2012, as a result of declining funding, with no plans to hold the climate conference that they had sponsored for the previous few years.

Lucia observes in a post today that the fake memo also purports to show intentional deception on the part of Heartland officers by, for example, deliberately concealing the confidential memo from part of the board of directors (“distributed to a subset of Institute Board and senior staff”). See her post for other examples.

As to the "leak," there was no disgruntled "insider" seeking to expose the truth. It turns out that someone had posed as a board member to trick a secretary at Heartland to send them a copy of briefing documents. And today, we now know who that someone was - warmie scientist Peter Gleick, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a frequent lecturer on "integrity in science," and indeed, until today apparently, a member of the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) Task Force on Scientific Ethics. You can read more on Mr. Gliek at the Telegraph, where James Delingpole is obviously enjoying the warmie angst.

At any rate, Mr. Gliek, issued a limited mea culpa today, admitting to fraudulently obtaining the briefing documents, claiming that his actions were justified by Heartland and those who dare question AGW, and further claiming that the 2012 Strategy document was not forged:

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.

The many bloggers who have been touting the 2012 Strategy document now claim that Gliek has "authenticated" it for them. They are being willfully blind and refusing to ask even the most basic questions.

This is going to be resolved very quickly. Someone very soon - whether it be law enforcement or a civil attorney for Heartland - is going to demand those "original" documents Gliek claims to have received in January. Just as a threshold matter, if all he can produce is a copy of the 2012 Strategy memo with metadata showing a February 13 creation date, this will all come crashing down around his ears. Indeed, the warmies who are still staking their reputation on Gliek ought to be the first ones demanding he produce the originals that he claims now to have received in January.

The Heartland Institute, which previously issued cease and desist letters to all of the blogs and papers who had made use of the 2012 strategy forgery, released this statement today in response to Mr. Gliek's partial confession:

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.

So that is where we stand today. The warmie blogs and publishers are refusing to budge on their claims that the 2012 Strategy document is anything but true based on the statement of Mr. Gliek. I personally applaud them for their utter refusal to look at this with any intellectual honesty. It will only bring more damage to their own cause. Heartland, it appears,is going to pursue this legally. I have a feeling this situation will, like fresh wine, just improve dramatically with time.

There have been several reactions of note to Gleick's revelations. Andrew Revkin, the NYT's go-to guy for the warmie crowd, has issued a damning indictment of Gleick:

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 testimony, group 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. . . .

Another question, of course, is who wrote the climate strategy document that Gleick now says was mailed to him. His admitted acts of deception in acquiring the cache of authentic Heartland documents surely will sustain suspicion that he created the summary, which Heartland’s leadership insists is fake.

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.

Climate scientist Dr. Judith Curry also offered her own trenchant observations on Gleick's unique form of ethics and finds it a mirror image of Climategate:

Gleick’s ‘integrity’ seems to have nothing to do with scientific integrity, but rather loyalty to and consistency with what I have called the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology. . .

It is fine for people (and scientists) have political ideologies. The problem comes in when you use politics to defend your science, and you use science to demand policies.

Gleick’s unethical action with respect to integrity has been to push fealty to the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology under the guise of promoting integrity and ethics in science. . .

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’. . .

And from a twitter from IPCC lead author Richard Tol: "Environmentalists are their own worst enemy. Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Peter Gleick. What fools."

With Mr. Tol's statement in mind - some parting thoughts. Science done within the confines of the scientific method is as trustworthy a source of data as we will ever have. The problem for the AGW crowd is that they gave up on science long ago. When Michael Mann rewrites climate history while withholding the underlying methods and data to test his theory, when Ken Briffa does the cherry picking job of all time on Yamal, when James Hansen adjusts our temperature record at every turn to make warming appear from nowhere, and when Kevin Trenberth demands that we embrace the 'reality' of AGW on the sole basis of an untested hypothesis, then its clear that the AGW crowd who accuse "deniers" of being anti-science have turned reality on its head. Gleick's actions fit in perfectly with the spirit - and ethics - of those "climate scientists" The reality is that they are becoming more shrill and more desperate by the moment as it appears that new research - and indeed, surface temperatures - are not cooperating with their apocalyptic AGW meme. Their angst is well founded. This from WSJ today:

[A]n important gauge of scientific expertise is the ability to make successful predictions. When predictions fail, we say the theory is "falsified" and we should look for the reasons for the failure. Shown in the nearby graph is the measured annual temperature of the earth since 1989, just before the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also shown are the projections of the likely increase of temperature, as published in the Summaries of each of the four IPCC reports, the first in the year 1990 and the last in the year 2007.

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