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Fakegate Continued: Heartland Plays Up “Wronged Party” Role in Open Letter

RP Siegel | Friday March 2nd, 2012 | 19 Comments

The latest episode in the Heartland Institute’s so-called “Fakegate”scandal, in which Pacific Institute Director Peter Gleick admittedly obtained embarrassing private documents under false pretenses, features an “open letter” from Heartland to the Board of Directors of the Pacific Institute.

The letter contains a number of helpful suggestions as to which rocks the Institute’s hired independent investigator should look under in his effort to uncover the truth behind Gleick’s actions. It includes a series of links to emails exchanged between Gleick and Heartland prior to the leak. Heartland had invited Gleick to debate their anti-warming hired gun, Fox news regular, and distinguished non-scientist James M. Taylor at their 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner.

In his email response, Gleick said,

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.

Heartland’s Communication Director Jim Lakeley responded by saying,

I’m sure you’ve seen James M. Taylor’s response to the funding questions at Forbes.com — 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.

Gleick declines, citing his “belief in transparency, especially when your Institute and its donors benefit from major tax breaks at the expense of the public.”

Clearly it was this belief in transparency that led to his decision to leak the documents containing the names of the donors.

Heartland’s letter goes on to include additional links to the emails Gleick used to obtain the documents, the forged document, and what they refer to as Gleick’s “partial confession.” The letter goes with a series of questions that strongly insinuate  that Gleick was responsible for creating the fake two-page strategy memo.

Perhaps if Heartland had chosen earlier to embrace transparency as passionately as they appear to have embraced it now, they might have succeeded in getting Gleick to come to their party. But then, that was before the cat was out of the bag.

The letter and the Fakegate website make it clear that Heartland is trying to milk this controversy for all its worth. The website claims that:

Fakegate matters because it reveals the inner workings of the radical environmentalists who have turned climate science into a politically-driven movement. Peter Gleick is not the exception. He is not one man who made a poor choice. He is representative of the character of many of the leading voices in the global warming movement. The tactics he used to try to shut down debate – deception and outright lies – are common in the environmental movement.

Choice of language is important here. Climate scientists are suddenly “radical environmentalists” because they believe that the survival of all the living creatures that the planet supports is more important than next quarter’s dividend. But the statement about “the character of many of the leading voices” is shameless drivel. Sure Gleick may have lied to Heartland, but unlike them, he did not lie to the public about the most serious crisis to ever confront mankind.

Yes, Gleick lost his patience when confronted with the enormity of the opposition that the scientific community now faces in its efforts to reach the scientifically unsophisticated American public with what is admittedly a complex and somewhat abstract message. The revelation that Heartland would now be using their millions in fossil fuel donations to target schoolchildren with their latest misinformation campaign was likely what pushed him over the edge.

Clearly, Heartland is whipping up this froth of righteous indignation in hopes of seizing the moral high ground here. Maybe they might even win over a few confused supporters, but their main objective is surely to provide air cover to those donors who, having had their identities revealed, might otherwise be embarrassed enough to stop donating.

[Image credit:Tim_in_Ohio: Flickr Creative Commons]

RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Now available onKindle

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.


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  • Shame on Siegel

    RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC, advocates Fraud and Criminal Deception as long as its done by his side against his enemies.
    RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC is just one more eco-zealot riding the gravy train.

    Shame on TriplePundit for allowing RP Siegel to advocate criminal fraud.  I hope your customers realize your moral relevancy.

  • 9u9

    Heartland IS the wronged party. Why shouldn’t Heartland complain about the shabby treatment and the forged document? Heartland has every right to feel righteous indignation. The good thing is that the wider public has a taste of the ethics of people like Peter Gleick and their defenders.

  • Martin Miller

    So, being the victim of wire fraud is not being the ‘wronged party?’

    You must be a nice bloke.  /sarc

  • http://www.triplepundit.com Nick Aster

    Okay guys.  I don’t think RP is defending or justifying the theft of information.  No one around here would support that, and no one does.  The point here is to put it into perspective.  The actions of Peter Gleick were apparently illegal, and if he’s prosecuted, he’ll receive a just punishment.  Nobody here disagrees with that.

    Again, the point is one of perspective given the scale of the alleged misinformation campaign the Heartland institute is accused of.  The discrepancy between the two alleged mis-deeds is very large, and most certainly merits discussion, hence this article.

    As always, we welcome your points of view and, as long as they’re well written we’re happy to publish them.   Please feel free to contact us from the menu above.

  • RP Siegel

    I don’t condone everything that Gleick did, but I don’t completely condemn it either. Sometimes rules have to be broken in service of a higher goal. That is, after all, how this country was born. Let us not forget that. In this case the higher goal was the telling of the truth about Heartland’s agenda and their conspiracy to mislead the American people about the most critical issue of our time.
    Gleick was unwise to do this as it has destroyed a career in which he could have done much more for his cause than this. But looking out at all the people out there who refuse look at the facts–I can understand his frustration.
    As for the gravy train. LOL. If you think there is money to be made defending the environment, you ought to try it sometime. I gave up a high-paying corprate job to do this, because I believe in it. If it was money I wanted, I would have worked for an oil company, and yes I could have.

    • Wewhitley

      Mr. Seigel – “. Sure Gleick may have lied to Heartland, but unlike them, he did not lie to the public about the most serious crisis to ever confront mankind.” Most serious crisis ever to confront mankind? Surely you jest. Don’t you think WW II was more of a threat to mankind? If this threat is so serious, the surely every extra bit of carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere must be stopped. That’s why I’m sure you don’t drive a car, do you? You tell your friends not to fly on jets right? We can trust that you in your personal life live up to the anti carbon creed that you feel so personally feel, right? If you answer any of these questions with a lie, is it ok because your personal integrity is not as important as stopping global warming before it is too late, right?

  • DanH

    What a pathetic self-serving article.

    I am annoyed with myself for having wasted 5 minutes of my life reading such drivel.

    Your statement ‘I gave up a high-paying corprate(sic) job to do this, because I believe in it.’ says it all. You are a religious fundamentalist where the end justifies the means.

    Anything and everything is permitted if it advances the cause.

    Ethics, impartiality and honesty are optional extras.

  • http://www.abeqas.com/ paleohydrologist

    What misinformation would Heartland provide to schoolchildren exactly? 
     I’m in the climate science field and have a bit of a beef with a popular climate change textbook by W. Ruddiman “Earth’s Climate, Past and Future” 2nd edition.  This book describes past glacial oscillations without ever disclosing that temperature changes always preceded C02 changes. To me, THAT is misinformation. I’ve brought this up with the group, Citizens for Excellence in Science Education (CESE).  They pride themselves on keeping creationist textbooks out of the schools.  But they couldn’t be bothered on this item.
    But in any case, you (RP Siegel) reported above that Heartland’s campaign was to spread misinformation about climate change to schoolchildren.  Can you back that up.  What misinformation?  An example?  Anything?

    My guess is that Heartland’s program would have helped correct misleading tomes, and it’s a good thing, because CESE and others like them have dropped the ball on accuracy in climate change science textbooks.  Correcting misinformation is what I think their agenda is.   Again, maybe I misunderstand, so from your capacity and sources that you no doubt used to report on this, can you provide some reference or example of Heartlands misinformation campaign directed at schoolchildren?

  • Steve Baulos

    RP, strictly speaking Heartland was a “wronged party” in this little incident.  Granted, I don’t personally care that much since I think they got what they deserved.   But it’s a losing argument to try to justify mr gleick…  you’ll just upset the natives (case in point above!)

  • http://www.abeqas.com/ paleohydrologist

    SB and RP, I don’t personally care that much either.  I’m a big fan of some directors and scientists within Heartland, and I’m maybe a  permanent thorn in the side of others, so it evens out. 

    My concern is that this article above makes a rather nasty claim which seems to lack any sort of  corroborative information.

    Typically, it’s best, from a CYA perspective to provide a reference or other sort of corroboration.  Or lacking that, to express the concern as clearly an opinion, as opposed to a fact.  When I raised my concern about the climate textbook, I provided the supporting information to corroborate (not that it has done any good so far).

    Personally I do think that climate alarmism is misguided and replete with ad hominem attacks for its support.  I still don’t understand how that approach has gained so much traction throughout scientific and media circles. 

    For what it is worth, the few good points that I’m aware of that Gleick has made over the years, still merit attention (in my opinion), no matter what he has done to discredit himself otherwise.  One could say the same for Heartland.  The arguments and the facts should be the focus of debate, not the personalities.   But when legitimate skepticism is smothered by proponents of Cap and Trade and related, is it any wonder that the ‘natives’ get upset?

  • Nicholas Palmer

    Paleohydrologist: are you really one of those? or are you just pretending to try and give yourself spurious credibility to readers?

    You wrote:

    “This book describes past glacial oscillations without ever disclosing
    that temperature changes always preceded C02 changes. To me, THAT is
    misinformation”

    Your name suggests you are a scientist and yet you appear not to be aware that the “temperature always preceeds CO2″  trick is one of the most well known pieces of denialist deception around. It has been exposed a thousand times. Why it is misdirection is so simple only a heavily biased person could maintain their prejudice when it is explained. Crafted to deceive the ordinary man in the street by unscrupulous propagandists, anyone with even a basic understanding of climate science should be able to see though the deceit involved and yet you, claiming to be a paleohydrologist seemingly can’t. Why is that? If anyone ever hears anyone using this piece of  deceit to try and cast doubt on climate science, you will know  for sure that you are listening or reading the words of a gullible fool or an idiot or a deceiver.

    • http://www.abeqas.com/ paleohydrologist

      I already submitted a reply but somehow it didn’t get posted. 
      I’ll try to post it again tomorrow if it doesn’t show up by then.

    • http://www.abeqas.com/ paleohydrologist

      Mr. Palmer, you first asked if I’m really a paleohydrologist.

      My response is yes. My record in that field, the general field of hydrology and of hydroclimatology can be corroborated through examination of a CV at http://www.abeqas.com/people.html.

      You later wrote:
      “you appear not to be aware that the “temperature always preceeds CO2″ trick is one of the most well known pieces of denialist deception around”

      My response is that it is no trick. For corroboration, among a large number of scientific references, you need only go to the UN IPCC’s AR4 report on paleohydrology at http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter6.pdf
      In particular visit section 6.4.1.
      As you might know, the UN IPCC AR4 is the reigning authoritative reference source for anyone who wishes to promote alarmism about climate change. Hence, my concern, that even though IPCC corroborates my assertion, the foremost climate change textbook assigned to impressionable young readers, leaves that fact out entirely. It goes towards my original comments regarding Mr. RP Siegel’s assertion that Heartland is trying to misinform students. I think the opposite is at play, and I provided corroboration in my previous comment and at http://www.abeqas.com/TMCCTMISTSame.html.

      You later wrote: “It ( the “temperature always preceeds CO2″ trick ) has been exposed a thousand times”My response is: Your turn to corroborate. From a thousand scientifically valid exposures, it should be child’s play for you to corroborate with one or two (and please keep it scientific.. no blogs, no Rolling Stone articles, etc). Keep in mind that if you come up with anything, you will thereby be contradicting the UN IPCC. Finally you wrote about me personally with such tidbits as: ” ..spurious credibility..crafted to deceive …by unscrupulous propagandists, …the deceit involved …this piece of deceit to try and cast doubt on climate science …a gullible fool or an idiot or a deceiver “My response is, see my previous comment “..climate alarmism is… replete with ad hominem attacks for its support”      Thanks for corroborating my statement.It ( the “temperature always preceeds CO2″ trick ) has been exposed a thousand times”My response is: Your turn to corroborate. From a thousand scientifically valid exposures, it should be child’s play for you to corroborate with one or two (and please keep it scientific.. no blogs, no Rolling Stone articles, etc). Keep in mind that if you come up with anything, you will thereby be contradicting the UN IPCC. Finally you wrote about me personally with such tidbits as: ” ..spurious credibility..crafted to deceive …by unscrupulous propagandists, …the deceit involved …this piece of deceit to try and cast doubt on climate science …a gullible fool or an idiot or a deceiver “My response is, see my previous comment “..climate alarmism is… replete with ad hominem attacks for its support”      Thanks for corroborating my statement.

      • Nicholas Palmer

        Your respone is bizarre. OK you’re a legit paleohydrologist- no doubt you shine in that narrow area but you’re ability to think or understand what other people write seems to be poor.

        Answering your points will be easy to do, but embarrassing for you. Unfortunately it’s now time for bed so I’ll reply tomorrow.

        p.s. I like your artwork a lot

      • RP SIegel

         From the source you recommended (IPCC Pg 43).
        ” It is very likely that the average rates of increase in CO2, as
        well as in the combined radiative forcing from CO2, CH4
        and N2O concentration increases, have been at least five
        times faster over the period from 1960 to 1999 than over
        any other 40-year period during the past two millennia
        prior to the industrial era.
        The TAR pointed to the ‘exceptional warmth of the late
        20th century, relative to the past 1,000 years’. Subsequent
        evidence has strengthened this conclusion. It is very likely
        that average Northern Hemisphere temperatures during
        the second half of the 20th century were higher than for
        any other 50-year period in the last 500 years. It is also
        likely that this 50-year period was the warmest Northern
        Hemisphere period in the last 1.3 kyr, and that this
        warmth was more widespread than during any other 50-
        year period in the last 1.3 kyr.

        Doesn’t sound like a lot of doubt to me.
        See also: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/01/real-global-warming/

      • Nicholas Palmer

        Paleohydrologist

        Michael, it’s bizarre that you don’t seem to know that the “temperature rises always preceded
        CO2 rises” meme is, or certainly was, one of the most common propaganda tricks used to spread doubt and uncertainty by fooling the voting public.

        This slippery rhetorical trick was used by Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Morano, Cato Institute, Heartland Institute, Alex Jones, Senator Inhofe, Competitive Enterprise Institute, very many commenters in sceptical blogland such as on Wattsupwiththat/Climate Audit/Jo Nova’s etc. It was used in the “The Great Global Warming Swindle” and other mendacious pseudo documentaries. In the UK, such “journalist”/lobbyists as James Delingpole,  Christopher Booker, David Rose, Nigel Lawson etc used it and many, many others. These people are smart enough to understand the reality, yet they chose to promulgate misleading rhetoric.

        You wrote: “My response is that it is no trick”

        The magic trick, the misdirection that you can’t seem to see, is the context that the phrase has been used in by those listed above. It is presented to the gullible in the following manner.

        Those presenting the magic trick say something along these lines: “over the last X hundreds of thousands of years, ice core records prove conclusively that temperature rises always happened first and then followed up to 800 years after by carbon dioxide levels rising.” They then either say, or just let the gullible audience jump to the conclusion, that “if temperature always goes up first, then how can CO2 possibly cause temperatures to go up? – the IPCC have got it the wrong way round because the science is very clear on this.” They create a “big lie” by selectively cherry picking a small part of the truth.

        They (propagandists) present this meme as some sort of smoking gun hole – a Galilean Earth goes round the sun, not the other way round, revolutionary observation – that they have discovered in the theory of global warming and climate change and the stated majority position of every national academy and scientific society on earth.

        The deceit is in “accidentally” not mentioning that, barring sustained periods of vulcanism (such as the Deccan and Siberian traps formation), in the past there has also never been a time when large quantities of underground sequestered carbon have been dug up and oxidised in the atmosphere at the increasing rate we have been doing since we discovered fossil fuels. They “accidentally” don’t mention that OF COURSE there can be no evidence in the ice cores where CO2 rises can have possibly preceded temperature rises because people weren’t around back then to do it. They also “accidentally” fail to mention that even though the CO2 rises follow the initial temperature rises, that the CO2 goes on to act as a positive feedback to the natural temperature change as does water vapour too, of course. That part of the warming caused by CO2 rising is visible in the ice core record graphs but it’s just not obvious because the pre-existing warming signal “hides the incline.”

        The deceit is in not telling the audience, as that would ruin the magic trick, that CO2 can act as both a forcing and a feedback. If CO2 from oxidised sequestered carbon is pumped back into the atmosphere then the planet will warm up from the increased radiative forcing in the atmosphere. Alternatively, warm the seas/tundra up (for whatever reason) and CO2 will be emitted as a feedback which will then go on to amplify that warming until equilibrium is reached.

        You quote the IPCC AR4 ch. 6.4.1 as some sort of support of your strange position. Of COURSE it states that (in the past) CO2 increases followed temperature rises. No-one has disputed that and yet you quote it as if it could correct me! The phrase “temperature always preceded CO2″ was not disputed by anyone – it was the misleading cherry picking straw-man argument use of the phrase, by skilled debaters/propagandists, to form a misleading impression in the minds of their audience, that is the deceit.

        I don’t know if the people who use/used this particular piece of deception actually know that they are/were considerably misleading the public. If they do, then they could be described as evil, bearing in mind the long term consequences of fooling too many of the voting public so that sufficient action is not taken sufficiently early to mitigate the worst of the effects of the warming in the pipeline. If they don’t understand that they are spreading deception, despite the countless times this “CO2 follows temperature” meme has been set straight, not least at skepticalscience.com, then how can one describe them? Stupid? Ignorant? Incorrigible? Gullible? You tell me, Michael, what a good word would be because I am sick and tired of arguing with denialists who won’t accept that they are simply wrong about this and have the nerve to object when people (they assert) use “ad homs” against them.

        To identify them as stupid, ignorant or deceitful is merely descriptive – it is NOT an ad hominem. A real ad hominem would be to say their ideas must be false because they are stupid or fat or whatever. What people like me and majority climate science are saying is their ideas are wrong, and they won’t or can’t take correction THEREFORE they are being deceitful or stupid – a completely different kettle of fish.

        I hope you accept that doubling CO2 levels from 280ppm pre-industrial levels will cause the planet to warm, because that is just basic physics, right? And that doubling it again to 1000ppm would cause further warming, yes? Even such darlings-of-the-deniers scientists such as Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, S. Fred Singer, Douglass, Michaels and such as Monckton wouldn’t deny that. The only thing you can sensibly dispute is the IPCC’s majority view climate sensitivity figure. If it is what Lindzen et al claim, then we won’t have much of a problem. If it is what the IPCC state, then we will have very serious problems. If it is what Hansen/Lovelock state then it will be catastrophic for humanity.

        What everyone needs to ask themselves is this. What if you are wrong in which sensitivity figure you accept? What flows from doing this analysis?

        If Lindzen et al are right and the IPCC/Hansen/Lovelock are wrong, and we make strenuous efforts to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, and it turns out that very little changes would have happened, then the majority scientific view will look pretty stupid but we will have given ourselves energy independence from foreign powers and done most of what we need to do anyway to cope with the peaking of the economic availability of cheap fossil energy.

        If Lindzen et al are right and IPCC et al are wrong and we do nothing, currently cheap energy will still get a lot more expensive/less available and we will be in an even worse economic situation than we are in now.

        If the IPCC are wrong, and Hansen/Lovelock are right and we do nothing to reduce CO2 emissions then it is Sayonara, civilisation. No question. Finito.

        If Lindzen et al are wrong and too many people listen and we do nothing then things will get all the way from unpleasant for many, to disastrous for some. It will be too late then to fix things.

        It comes down to risk assessment. Unless you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that climate sensitivity is low – “almost certain” will not do – you have to err on the side of safety or the consequences that will flow from getting it wrong are so huge and long lasting that only a madman would still think to subject the whole population of the world and their descendants to those risks.

        Faced with the gunman in Dirty Harry, where neither was certain about whether there was still a bullet in the Magnum, would you have taken the chance the punk did, Michael? If it was just you taking a reckless chance with your life, if you asserted that there was no climate change bullet left, you have a right to do so. unless you are 100.000% certain, and 100.000% right, that there is no “bullet,” your recklessness will expose my family and every one of the billions of other people on Earth and all their descendants to that risk. What sort of creature does that make you?

        • Nicholas Palmer

           That last paragraph should read:

          Remember the punk at the end of “Dirty Harry”? Neithe was certain about
          whether there was still a bullet in the Magnum. Would you have felt lucky, Michael? If it was you taking a reckless
          chance with your own life, if you believed there was no climate change
          bullet left in the gun, then you would have a perfect right to take that chance. It wouldn’t be very smart though.

          Unless you are 100.000% certain,
          and 100.000% right, that there is no climate change “bullet,” your recklessness will
          expose you to that risk. Unfortunately, you are not the only person taking the chance. Also involved are my family and every one of the billions of other people on Earth
          and all their descendants. That is the odds, and the responsibility, you are gambling on you being right. What sort of hyper-arrogant irresponsible creature does that
          make you?

        • http://www.abeqas.com/ paleohydrologist

          You seem to believe that the burden of proof is on the skeptic, not the one who raises the alarm in the first place. That’s not the way it works in science. The burden of proof is ALWAYS on the proponent of the new theory.
           
          For some interesting contrast, consider switching the ‘theory’. Perhaps the ‘theory’ that Iran is building (or working towards building) a nuclear weapon. To be consistent, your final argument would seem to dictate Iran’s immediate annhiliation. To paraphrase, “..unless you are 100.000% certain that there is no “Iranian nuclear weapons program,” your recklessness will expose my family and every one of the billions of other people on Earth and all their descendants to that risk. What sort of creature does that make you? ”

          But back to the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) which is more purely in the science field; It only takes one hole in a theory to deflate it. CAGW has many such holes, including the fact that CO2 lagged global mean Temps throughout the past 2 million years of glacial oscillations.
          As I said before, that lag argument is no fraud. The fact that people like Rush Limbaugh embrace that argument (whatever their possible motivations) doesn’t make it a fraudulent idea. That lag, rather, is one of many factoids which makes CAGW a fraudulent idea.

          You’ve claimed the reverse, but you need to provide some non-blog corroboration. The only meaningful corroboration would be a scientific peer reviewed pubished paper which shows a CAGW climate model which (even using the feedbacks you cited) successfully simulates both future warming and even a single past glacial oscillation.

          I could save you the trouble, because I’ve already commnicated with some of the most prominent climate-warming modelers of our day; modelers who support the IPCC, but whom have nonetheless had to admit that there are no such models which validate as I’ve described. And for what it’s worth, the admissions were offered after I had read every related paper they suggested on paelo climate models (including incorporation of some of the feedbacks you cite). The failure of those modeling attempts demonstrates that the very foundation of CAGW rests upon unvalidated models. The use of unvalidated models is nothing more than arm-waving as far as science goes. Another of the many holes in CAGW.

          For those two reasons, and a number of others, CAGW is quite dead. It’s only a matter of time before most remaining scientific CAGW adherents accept that. That will take more time than it should, given the billions in government funding raining down. But many scientists did not choose careers in earth sciences and environmental sciences for the money. I’m quite certain that their interest in best science practices will prevail in the long run. It’s already playing out.

          I would bet you are not a scientist, but I certainly don’t hold that against you. I hope your obvious passion for a good debate will someday be directed at those climate alarmists who have fooled you.

  • Con Michael

    The rigors of scientific discipline demand ,inter alia,that a theory imply the sort of evidence that would prove it wrong.Predictions based on the theory are tested against the facts.How many anomalous results are necessary to invalidate a proposition?To paraphrase Einstein….a mere one.The last couple of decades are replete with failed global warming predictions.Ergo the CAGW theory has been discredited.BTW, recently a crashlanded WW2 allied bomber was found under several dozen metres of ice in a far northern latitude location. I would be interested to know if this was predicted by the alarmists.