Monthly Archives: February 2012

Who Wrote the Fake Heartland Strategy Memo?

Certainly Peter Gleick is still in the running.

But as I wrote in Forbes last week, the memo does not have the feel of having been written by a “player” like Gleick.  It feels like someone younger, someone more likely to take the cynical political knife-fighting statements of someone like Glieck (e.g. skeptics are anti-science) and convert them literally (and blindly) to supposed Heartland agenda items like trying to discourage science teaching.  Someone like an intern or student, who might not realize how outrageous their stilted document might look to real adults in the real world, who understand that leaders of even non-profits they dislike don’t generally speak like James Bond villains.   Even Megan McArdle joked “Basically, it reads like it was written from the secret villain lair in a Batman comic.  By an intern.”

Now combine that with a second idea.  Gleick is about the only strong global warming believer mentioned by the fake strategy document.   I don’t think many folks who have observed Heartland from afar would say that Heartland has any special focus on or animus towards Gleick (more than they might have for any other strong advocate of catastrophic man-made global warming theory).   I would not have inferred any such focus by Heartland, and seriously, who would possibly think to single out Peter Gleick of all candidates (vs. Romm or Hansen or Mann et al) in a skeptic attack strategy?

The only person who might have inferred such a rivalry would have been someone close to Gleick, who heard about Heartland mainly from Gleick.  Certainly Gleick seems to have had a particular focus, almost obsession, with Heartland, and so someone who viewed Heartland only through the prism of Gleick’s rants might have inferred that Heartland had something special in for him.  And thus might have featured him prominently in a hypothesized attack in their strategy document.

So this is what I infer from all this:  My bet is on a fairly young Gleick sycophant — maybe a worker at the Pacific Institute, maybe an intern, maybe a student.  Which would mean in turn that Gleick very likely knows who wrote the document, but might feel some responsibility to protect that person’s identity.

Peter Gleick Admits to Stealing Heartland Documents

I have an updated article at Forbes.  A small excerpt

In a written statementPeter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, and vocal advocate of catastrophic man-made global warming theory, has admitted to obtaining certain Heartland Institute internal documents under false premises, and then forwarding these documents to bloggers who were eager to publish them.

Gleick (also a writer on these pages at Forbes) frequently styles himself a defender of scientific integrity (for example), generally equating any criticism of his work or scientific positions with lack of integrity (the logic being that since certain scientists like himself have declared the science to be settled beyond question, laymen or even other scientists who dispute them must be ethically-challenged).

In equating disagreement with lack of integrity, he offers a prime example of what is broken in the climate debate, with folks on both sides working from an assumption that their opponents have deeply flawed, even evil motives.  Gleick frequently led the charge to shift the debate away from science, which he claimed was settled and unassailable, to the funding and motives of his critics.  Note that with this action, Gleick has essentially said that the way to get a more rational debate on climate, which he often says is his number one goal, was not to simplify or better present the scientific arguments but to steal and publish details on a think tank’s donors….

Hit the link to read it all.

Heartland Documents: Whose Biases are Being Revealed Here?

I could not resist commenting on the brouhaha around the stolen Heartland Institute documents in my column at Forbes.  The key one that is the “smoking gun” now appears to be fake.  I wrote in part:

One reason I am fairly certain the document is fake is this line from the supposed skeptic strategy document:

His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.

For those of us at least somewhat inside the tent of the skeptic community, particularly the science-based ones Heartland has supported in the past, the goal of “dissuading teachers from teaching science” is a total disconnect.  I have never had any skeptic in even the most private of conversations even hint at such a goal.  The skeptic view is that science education vis a vis climate and other environmental matters tends to be shallow, or one-sided, or politicized — in other words broken in some way and needing repair.  In this way, most every prominent skeptic that works even a bit in the science/data end of things believes him or herself to be supporting, helping, and fixing science.  In fact, many skeptics believe that the continued positive reception of catastrophic global warming theory is a function of the general scientific illiteracy of Americans and points to a need for more and better science education (see here for an overview of the climate debate that does not once use the ad hominem words “myth”, “scam” or “lie”).

The only people who believe skeptics are anti-science per se, and therefore might believe skeptics would scheme to dissuade teachers from teaching science, are the more political alarmists (a good example was posted today right here at Forbes, which you might want to contrast withthis).  For years, I presume partially in an effort to avoid debate, certain alarmists have taken the ad hominem position that skeptics are anti-science.  And many probably well-meaning alarmists believe this about skeptics (since they may have not actually met any skeptics to know differently).  The person who wrote this fake memo almost had to be an alarmist, and probably was of the middling, more junior sort, the type of person who does not craft the talking points but is a recipient of them and true believer.

At the end I make a sort of bet

If the strategy memo turns out to be fake as I believe it to be, I am starting the countdown now for the Dan-Rather-esque “fake but accurate” defense of the memo — ie, “Well, sure, the actual document was faked but we all know it represents what these deniers are really thinking.”  This has become a mainstay of post-modern debate, where facts matter less than having the politically correct position.

But in the first update I note the winner may already be delcared

Is Revkin himself seeking to win my fake-but-accurate race?   When presented with the fact that he may have published a fake memo, Revkin wrote:

looking back, it could well be something that was created as a way to assemble the core points in the batch of related docs.

It sounds like he is saying that while the memo is faked, it may have been someones attempt to summarize real Heartland documents.  Fake but accurate!  By the way, I don’t think he has any basis for this supposition, as no other documents have come to light with stuff like “we need to stop teachers from teaching science.”

Overview of the Global Warming Debate

I know I have been dormant on this site of late (the perils of having a day job), but I have been thinking about and working for a while on a way to clearly portray the basic outlines of the global warming debate. I hope you will check it out in this article posted today at Forbes. Here is the opening:

Likely you have heard the sound bite that “97% of climate scientists” accept the global warming “consensus”.  Which is what gives global warming advocates the confidence to call climate skeptics “deniers,” hoping to evoke a parallel with “Holocaust Deniers,” a case where most of us would agree that a small group are denying a well-accepted reality.  So why do these “deniers” stand athwart of the 97%?  Is it just politics?  Oil money? Perversity? Ignorance?

We are going to cover a lot of ground, but let me start with a hint.

In the early 1980′s I saw Ayn Rand speak at Northeastern University.  In the Q&A period afterwards, a woman asked Ms. Rand, “Why don’t you believe in housewives?”  And Ms. Rand responded, “I did not know housewives were a matter of belief.”  In this snarky way, Ms. Rand was telling the questioner that she had not been given a valid proposition to which she could agree or disagree.  What the questioner likely should have asked was, “Do you believe that being a housewife is a morally valid pursuit for a woman.”  That would have been an interesting question (and one that Rand wrote about a number of times).

In a similar way, we need to ask ourselves what actual proposition do the 97% of climate scientists agree with.  And, we need to understand what it is, exactly,  that the deniers are denying.   (I personally have fun echoing Ms. Rand’s answer every time someone calls me a climate denier — is the climate really a matter of belief?)

It turns out that the propositions that are “settled” and the propositions to which some like me are skeptical are NOT the same propositions.  Understanding that mismatch will help explain a lot of the climate debate.