Peter Gleick reveals himself as source of Heartland documents
- 21 Feb 2012, 12:35
- Christian Hunt
It's been a week since strategy documents purporting to be from
free-market American think-tank the Heartland Institute were
emailed to a number of journalists from a mystery email
In an unexpected twist, last night hydrologist and climate science
Gleick revealed himself to be the source of the
documents. Gleick, the head of the California-based Pacific
Research Institute, wrote a statement on his
Huffington Post blog claiming that he originally
received the document which Heartland says is faked from an
anonymous emailer, and then in what he describes as "a serious
lapse of my own professional judgment and ethics" he "solicited and
received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute
under someone else's name".
response to Gleick's statement confirms his
version of events on how the 'solicited' emails made their way out
of the building, but remains unclear on whether the other documents
are accurate or not. Heartland also maintain that one of the
documents - a summary memo - is a fake.
Despite Heartland's reluctance to reveal whether the other
documents are real, the Associated Press have
verified that much of the information in them is
correct by using other sources.
The other documents appear to show details of
their actual and proposed funding for well-known climate skeptic
scientists and bloggers, further plans to
influence the teaching of climate science in
schools, and details about the Institute's funding.
Climate skeptic bloggers had already
speculated that Gleick was the source because he
was named in the documents, and information about the location of
the leaker contained in file metadata suggested they were located
on the west coast of the USA. Skeptics have furthermore suggested
that Gleick faked the memo, citing evidence including writing style
and use of parentheses. Gleick claims not.
Reaction from other commentators in the States has varied.
Desmogblog, the website that first put the
documents online, has hailed Gleick as a "whistleblower" who
"deserves our gratitude and respect". Columnist
of the New York Times argued that Gleick has "admitted to an
act that leaves his reputation in ruins and threatens to undercut
the cause he spent so much time pursuing".
Gleick himself wrote "I deeply regret my own actions".
According to the Guardian he is getting advice
from communications specialist Chris Lehane "who worked in the
Clinton White House [and] is credited for exposing the
right-wing forces arrayed against the Democratic President".
With Heartland threatening legal action against Gleick and
journalists and bloggers who covered the story, there's probably
more to come, which is likely to pull focus from the details about
Heartland's work that have apparently been revealed.
And presumably many in the scientific community will feel
uncomfortable with a scientist taking such steps. One wrote
on twitter this morning:
Irrespective of credentials, a scientist
who lets his personal convictions blur his professional judgement
is a bad scientist.