Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fake But Accurate - Really?


Following release of the emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia I wondered how the global warming advocates would respond.  I've litigated a number of cases over the years involving the EPA, the US Army Corps of Engineers and other regulatory bodies that rely on the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as an authoritative and scientific source for their rules and regulations.

The scientists whose emails were released by CRU, and who were intimately involved with the IPCC, made statements in those emails that called the integrity of the science they were conducting into question.  If you have not read the emails you owe it to yourself to track down a copy and read them.  Summaries of a few of the emails, with direct links to the actual emails can be review HERE.  If you believe global warming, now known as climate change, is caused by carbon dioxide and and that climate change will, in the future, cause global disasters then you need to know what advocates of your position have said.

Against the backdrop of the hacking / release of the CRU emails a new drama is unfolding.  The Heartland Institute, located in Chicago, stands accused of being "anti-science" after  documents from the organization and, apparently, forged a memo based on information in those documents that purportedly show the Heartland Institute, among other things, funded an effort aimed at "dissuading teachers from teaching science."  The article excerpted below sheds additional light on the sad episode and I encourage you to read the whole thing.

Peter Gleik, the former Chairman of the American Geophysical Union's Task Force on Scientific Ethics and an advocate of global warming / climate change, contacted a Heartland Institute staff member, pretending he was a member of the Heartland Institute Board, and convinced the staff member to send him certain Heartland Institute documents so he could prepare for an upcoming board meeting.  Separately, Gleick claims to have anonymously received an undated Heartland Institute memo - follow this LINK for a paragraph by paragraph analysis - purportedly describing Heartland's climate strategy.  Gleick has confessed to obtaining the documents under false pretenses, stating in a HuffingtonPost blog:


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.


Gleik's Confession


Advocates of climate change like Gleick are discrediting themselves, environmentalists and others who support the use of sustainable infrastructure around the globe.  He has now resigned his post as Chairman of the Task Force on Ethics.  But more is needed.  Those of us who passionately support sustainable solutions must speak out or we too will be discredited.  The environment is important.  The climate is important.  Mankind impacts the environment.  Mankind impacts the climate.  Decisions related to how best to deal with those impacts must be made on the basis of the best science available, not on the basis of fraud and propaganda.

Fallout from Gleik's actions will be felt far and wide.  Below are excerpts from an article by Robert Tracinski are likely just the tip of the iceberg.  Tracinski, editor of the Intellectual Activist Daily is an ardent opponent of widely accepted views on global warming and climate change.  False memes like the one promoted by Gleik arm opponents like Tracinski with a wealth of ammunition.


Note one other thing: how this fraud self-consciously tries to recreate every aspect of the Climategate scandal, projecting those elements onto the climate skeptics. Climategate had: a) an insider who leaked information, b) private admissions of unscientific practices, like misrepresenting the data to "hide the decline" in global temperatures, and c) discussions of attempts to suppress opposing views. Further scandals that followed on from Climategate included one more element: d) using material from non-scientists in activist groups to pad out scientific reports for the UN.

The fake Heartland memo tried to re-create all of this. It was posted to the Web by someone who called himself "Heartland Insider." It contains admissions of things like opposing the teaching of science. It includes discussion of attempts to exclude global warming alarmists from the media, particularly an attempt to oust a fellow named Peter Gleick, described in the memo as a "high profile climate scientist," from his Forbes blog, because "This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out." And it describes a program to hire a "paid team of writers" to "undermine the official United Nation's [sic] IPCC reports." So this has all of the elements of Climategate, but in mirror image.

But it is all a lie. It took bloggers mere days to spot the document as a fake and less than a week to find the person who posted it and the other Heartland documents. He turns out to be...Peter Gleick, a climate scientist who is president of the left-leaning Pacific Institute. It's actually kind of pathetic, when you think about it. What gave Gleick away was the little touch of self-aggrandizement, the fact that he couldn't resist over-inflating the significance of his Forbes blog. In his own mind, clearly, he is the one man whose bold opposition keeps the Heartland leadership awake at nights.

So the "leaker" wasn't an insider, Heartland has not been exposed as anti-science, and it is not conspiring to silence opposing voices. In fact, days before the documents were posted, Heartland had asked Gleick to participate in a debate, and he refused the invitation. Oh, and those "paid writers" who were supposed to "undermine" the UN climate reports? They were actually a team of distinguished scientists who were compiling their own independent climate research.


Read the whole thing and ask yourself how and why the debate has gone so far off the rails.  If sunlight is the best disinfectant it sounds like we need to shine a lot of sunlight on the science surrounding global warming.  What is so sad is that admirable and worthy environmental and sustainability goals are impacted by these Charlatans.

Fake But Accurate?

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James L. Salmon, Esq.
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