The 'ruination' of Peter Gleick


Oooh, sfgate has dropped climate scientist Peter Gleick's column on the City Brights section of the site. Harsh, man; I guess that's enough to "damage, if not ruin" the reputation of one of the world's leading authorities on climate change. Fired by City Brights; I bet he feels as if he's been unfriended by Garrison Keillor.

I continue to be amazed at the ethics of the San Francisco Chronicle, which can't tolerate Gleick but still allows Willie Brown to write a column in the news section of the paper.

And I'm amazed at all the handwringing over this incident. I means, what, exactly did Gleick do that is going to destory his scientific reputation after years of unimpeachable work? Here's what he did: He contacted the nuts at the Heartland Institute and asked them to send him some material. Oh, and he didn't give his real name.

It doesn't appear that he broke into the Heartland office, or hacked into the Heartland server, or went in under false pretenses and made a bogus video. In fact, I'd argue that, whatever the Chron's legal sources say, it's pretty hard to call this "stealing."

Look, if my phone rang and the person on the line said his name was Warren Buffet and he asked me to send him confidential Guardian business information because he was thinking about investing $1 billion in the alternative press, I'd make a coupla phone calls first -- wouldn't you? If I ran a right-wing nonprofit and somebody called and said she was a board member and could you please send a package of sensitive internal documents to an address in Oakland, California, I'd call back at the number I had for her and ask if she'd move to crazyland -- wouldn't you? Who on Earth sends that kind of material out without making sure it's going where it's supposed to go -- unless the vast majority of what Heartland sent Gleick was in fact the same sort of stuff that the loonies there regularly ship out to other loonies who they think might agree that Al Gore was born a thetan and is secretly plotting the United Nations takeover of the planet so that nobody can have round light bulbs any more.

I'm not condoning this sort of behavior -- although the history of journalism (sometimes excellent, important journalism) is filled with examples of reporters using what some would call dubious methods to get through what Robert Scheer used to call "the palace guard." But compared to shit the right wing pulls routinely, as a matter of practice, this is hardly a major crime. And you have to put some of the blame on whatever fool at the Heartland Institute mailed the company secrets off without checking where they were going.

And isn't it good that we now know how the oil industry is trying to create a K-12 curriculum that denies climate change?








there is some serious irony here. peter gleick inadvertently commits more journalism than we seen in the chron in a year and gets dropped from the paper.

Posted by Alex on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

Just another example of how the climate alarmists are getting desperate as more and more rational and educated people reject their warmist religion.

Posted by Cold in Calgary on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

So you don't believe in science apparently. You must not like math since all science uses math as a foundation for its conclusions. Do you apply this voodoo crap you're advocating when you try to balance your bank statement or figure out something using numbers related to your financial condition? If so, you must be paying the wrong amount because you're living in a world of make-believe.

Tim's right. You, OTOH, are living in a make-believe, fact-free, alternate universe.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 1:57 am

Sorry. I'm a scientist. Real scientists don't believe in CAGW. (I work with a LOT of them acrossed many disciplines and politcal beliefs). The only scientists that I know that believe in CAGW are climate scientists....

Posted by Guest on Mar. 01, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

Except that the oil industry donates more money to left wing and environmental non-profits. It's not the sceptics who are sticking their heads in the same here.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

So where do you get your "facts" (which of course they're not facts in the real world)? Has Faux News stooped so low now that they're spreading propaganda to you no-critical-thinking obedient Faux followers that oil companies are donating lots of $ to left wing and environmental groups (real ones, not phony ones) than they are to groups opposing environmental groups???

What do you get out of living in a make-believe, imaginary world??? If you're not, then who's paying you to spread this bs??? Do you feel proud to look at yourself in the mirror knowing you took the $ to spread bs on a leftist newspaper message bd??? Apparently so - if I looked in the mirror knowing I was doing that, I wouldn't look in it any more. My guess is you avoid mirrors as much as you can.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 2:04 am


climate change deniers blame a global conspiracy of independent scientists all shilling for research dollars while basing their arguments on the words of shills taking the money of a coordinated group of people who make gobs of money from denial of the obvious. its really a wonder their heads haven't exploded due to the cognitive dissonance of this position. what malevolent fools...

Posted by Alex on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

You have not told this story honestly. Of the memos Gleick forwarded, only one contained anything that was damning of Heartland, and that one is a fairly obvious fake. Gleick has been quite cagey regarding the provenance of this fraudulent document. The simplest, most obvious explanation is that Gleick forged the document or at least knows who did, and knew it was a lie when he sent it. Gleick did not just lie to obtain genuine documents. He willfully trafficked false information. This is reprehensible behavior for anyone, particularly for a self-described scientist, and most especially for someone who has made a name for himself championing the cause of ethics in scientific and public policy debates (as Gleick quite ostentatiously has). Your "analysis" of this episode constitutes a cover-up.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 8:30 pm

Excellent. You eviscerated this entire article with a few sentences of truth. Kudos my friend.

Posted by FreedomFan on Feb. 26, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

Tim, in your 5th paragraph, you mention that Heartland mailed the documents to an address in Oakland, CA. You chided the people at Heartland for not double checking the address. All the news reports confirm that Gleick called in, impersonated a board member and asked that the documents be EMAILED to him. Do you know from my email address where I live. Didn't think so!

Either shoddy fact checking or a deliberate red herring. Not very impressive journalism on your part.


Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

I noticed that Heartland is talking about wire fraud. My knowledge of wire fraud is limited to watching Tom Cruise in "The Firm", so that seemed a stretch to me, but I did some research and it looks to me like they may have a case under the intangible property rules. ( If they can prove he created the fake document, then they have a good case for libel, especially if they bring their case in England.

Posted by Joel Upchurch on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

Tim's clearly an idiot or fraud... wouldn't you think someone would at least try and get something right about the story before publishing it? Tool.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 22, 2012 @ 10:15 pm

Does it make you feel good to defend orchestrated, climate deniers so they can receive their big checks from the oil co? You feel good being a shill for the Heartland Institute or the ones they lie for? How much they paying you? You must stay away from mirrors for it would be hard to look at a mirror knowing the face looking back at you was a lying shill for a organization that's also a lying shill.

As for the Heartland Institute, let's read a little excerpt from a NY Times article from a few days ago (Feb 16):

******* start of excerpt ******

Heartland did declare one two-page document to be a forgery, although its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute. In an apparent confirmation that much of the material, more than 100 pages, was authentic, the group apologized to donors whose names became public as a result of the leak.

The documents included many details of the group’s operations, including salaries, recent personnel actions and fund-raising plans and setbacks. They were sent by e-mail to leading climate activists this week by someone using the name “Heartland insider” and were quickly reposted to many climate-related Web sites.

Heartland said the documents were not from an insider but were obtained by a caller pretending to be a board member of the group who was switching to a new e-mail address. “We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes,” the organization said.

*********** end of excerpt ****

So there's no controversy here. Forgery my ass! They basically admit they are liars shilling for industries involved in heating up our planet. They're just angry that they were stupid enough to not keep their orchestrated deception and who they were doing the deception for from getting beyond their walls.

Mr. Gleick should not be apologizing - he should be laughing at these fools and fools like you who are either a member of HI or being paid by an ally of them to post here.

And fuck the SF Chronicle for allying itself with an organized group of lying shills like the HI. I'm a subscriber just because I believe in a strong local daily newspaper but when I hear crap like this, damn it pisses me off.

And fuck you you POS Heartland Institute shill!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 3:51 am

Wonderful comment , Tim.

I suggest you sent it to the good Doctor Gleick and suggest he reads it to the judge.

"I am not condoning this sort of behaviour......"

Yes, actually, you are!

Your article is also remarkably remiss in not mentioning the forgery allegations involved.


Posted by Jack Savage on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 12:44 am

Hey Tim -

How about responding to some of these comments?

There are some specific, substantive criticisms of your reportage here.

Like Gleick you are quick to demand integrity of others.

How about you hold yourself to those same high standards?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

It turns out Peter Gleick faked those docs. He now has a big lawsuit and criminal fraud charges pending. All to promote his religion of global warming. Really sad watching someone self-destruct in the name of religon.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

I think the proper name for you is, uhmm, "LIAR!!!" - wait, that doesn't really capture what role you're playing here. I think two words are needed, like, "LYING SHILL!!!"

Yeah that's a little better. Peter Gleick didn't need to fake any docs. What would be the point you fool?! What's in the docs Peter G has is exactly the lies the Heartland Institute peddles all the time.

If you believe a group whose whole purpose is to ENGAGE IN LYING about the true state of affairs, then you're either a fool or have some tie to HI.

When your only reason to exist is to LIE as is the case with the HI, then you have ZERO credibility. That means one should assume everything you say IS A LIE and that the reality is just the opposite of what you say it is.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

Beyond the claims of HI, which doesn't have much credibility, does anyone have any evidence that documents were forged? Just because the Chron parroted that claim doesn't means the Guardian should.

Posted by steven on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

The Guardian most definitely should not make the mistake the Chron did because the HI's only point in existing is to dish out lies to give political cover for the industries that greatly contribute to global warming.

Since HI's product are reports that lie about reality, they don't have any credibility. So when they claim that Peter Gleick's docs were forged, the smart thing to do is to assume they are doing what they do everyday - they are lying. That's their business and they have no problem saying with a straight face that up is down, yes is no, that report (a report entirely consistent with what they put in their reports) is forged.

What's amazing is how many pro-HI crackpots this message bd attracts. I guess some powerful industries feel the need to pay ppl to inundate the BG message board with the pro-HI propaganda here.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

Stephen - Lots of people have called into question the strategy memo. Megan McArdle at The Atlantic has been all over the subject, as have any number of other folks including many who are generally sympathetic to Gleicks side of the climate debate. If you have actual integrity, you will answer your own question as it is quite easy to do.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

Gee he just lied about his identity to steal confidential documents and when there was nothing incriminating in them made up a document to libel his target. Nothing to see here just some felonies and severe ethical lapses from a guy who holds himself up as an expert on integrity. But hey it's cool because we don't like his victim. I just rewrote the gist of your article in about 1/10th the space.

Posted by stljoe on Feb. 23, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

"And isn't it good that we now know how the oil industry is trying to create a K-12 curriculum that denies climate change?"

Isn't it a shame for you that the stolen documents don't prove the first part of that sentence and the one which might be interpreted to say the second part is a fake?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 24, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

Skeptics and Deniers believe that Climate Scientists lie and fabricate data in order to advance their views. Gleick has now been caught lying and most likely fabricating data in order to advance his views. This gives Skeptics and Deniers further reason to remain skeptical and deny Climate Science. Your whitewashing and minimalizing both the ethical lapse and actual criminal activity committed by Gleick gives them even more reason to hold fast to their views.

What you should have done is admit that this taints him irretrievably, actually led the condemnation of Gleick for actions damaging to the good reputation of Science, and continued to make your arguments for Climate Science using untainted sources.

Posted by TikiHat on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

Anyone that thinks the internal memo is real only does so because they want it to be real. However, it is most assuredly a fake. The Koch brothers donations being the dead give away, as it was a target for the next year and for health care research, not climate change. There is no way a real internal memo would have such a huge error. That and the strange language used make it obviously fake. Most likely Gleick wrote it himself, and when HI sues him it will be proven. The reason so many doubt claims about climate change is the people pushing it repeatedly show they have now credibility. From the scandalously bad practices of the IPCC, to Climategate e-mails, and this. There's a pattern.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2012 @ 2:15 pm


Unfortunately you have left out some major details in this curious case. For the record I have no dog in this hunt. I am not a “Denier” or a “Warmist”, my interests are purely based on examining forensic evidence of a virtual crime scene.

Indeed a crime was committed. By his own admission Dr. Gleick committed identity theft and fraud. What I find curious was why did Dr. Gleick confess so rapidly? After all there was only circumstantial evidence that linked him to this crime.

Some believe that Dr. Gleick admitted to the crime to minimize his exposure. The Heartland Institute admits that most of the documents are genuine. However they assert that the “2012 Heartland Climate Strategy” memo is a forgery. So you can add forgery to the list of Dr. Gleick’s transgressions.

Why is this important? Dr. Gleick’s assertion that an anonymous memo sent by an HI insider triggered him to phish for supporting evidence. I submit that the reverse is true. Dr. Gleick committed identity theft by impersonating a former US Senator and HI board member to illegally obtain information on HI’s funding sources. Dr. Gleick’s obsession with HI’s funding sources are a matter of public record. The illegally obtain documents were used to create the forged Strategy Memo. The Strategy memo is the proverbial smoking gun, it proves that HI is an evil organization. According to this memo one of their goals is to dissuade “teachers from teaching science”, if that’s not evil what is?

Dr. Gleick may be a brilliant scientist, but I submit he is a terrible forger. His forgery is so bad that he was immediately tied to the document. The document is written in the frame of reference of a warmest. To make matters worse the forged document is written in Gleick’s quirky style. Glieck’s vernacular like “subset” and “anti-climate” are peppered in countless documents within the public domain. The odd and frequent use of parentheses and commas. Glieck’s DNA is all over this forgery. To make matters worse the forged document contains many factual errors. For instance the Koch Foundation did not contribute a single dime towards HI’s efforts related to Climate matters. I seriously doubt that anyone at the HI would consider the New York Time’s Andrew Revkin a neutral source. The piece de resistance is when the forger (Glieck) refers to himself as a “high-profile climate scientist”.

The end result to this debacle is that Dr. Gleick’s reputation is forever shattered. He will spend his immediate future defending himself against criminal and civil charges. The Pacific Institute the he cofounded will probably see a significant decline in contributions. Damage to the warmest cause is yet to be determined.

Finally the ultimate schadenfreude moment comes from the fact Gleick’s actions are being used by Heartland to solicit donations.

So let’s recap, Gleick damaged his own cause, bolstered his enemies coffers, ruined his own reputation, possibly destroyed the Pacific Institute, faces civil and possibly criminal charges, financial ruin, and possible jail time. For What? and Why?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 28, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

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