Many people are chortling that the libertarian Heartland Institute, one of the leading skeptics of anthropogenic climate change, had documents about its campaigns stolen and published. This is only fair, they say, since Heartland didn’t complain when someone stole the emails of leading government-funded climatologists that showed that the scientists were manipulating the data to make global warming appear more real.
Now global warming activist Peter Gleick has admitted that he is the one who used subterfuge to obtain the Heartland documents. Heartland had claimed that one of the documents was faked. Gleick says someone sent him this document anonymously, and to confirm it Gleick called Heartland pretending to be a board member and asked to have the institute’s board reports sent to him. He then released all the documents, including the spurious one, to the press.
As the Wall Street Journal observes, what the documents actually reveal is that Heartland operates on a relative shoestring budget funded mainly by individual donors, not corporations or government. It did receive a small grant from the infamous (and libertarian) Koch brothers, but Heartland says that grant was for a health care project, not climate change. Heartland’s total annual budget of less than $8 million is a tiny fraction of the budget of such groups as Natural Resources Defense Council ($95 million) or World Wildlife Fund ($238 million). Yes, those groups do other things with their money but so does Heartland.
Moreover, a writer at Forbes notes that is one thing to acquire documents from government-funded scientists, which are arguably in the public domain anyway. It is quite another thing to get internal documents from non-profit groups that obtain all of their funds from private sources. However, this distinction will be lost on those who simply want to discredit anyone who doubts that we need to dramatically re-engineer society.
The left has published a number of shrill reports claiming the documents prove that Heartland wants to “dupe children and ruin their future.” Since climate science is hardly a consensus, I don’t think that asking that both sides of the debate be heard in schools is the same as “duping children.” In any case, on Heartland’s tiny budget not very many children are going to be “duped.”
Gleick admits that lying to Heartland in order to get the group’s internal documents was a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics.” Even more unethical was including a fake document with the real ones. Unlike the climategate emails, nothing in the genuine Heartland documents said that anyone at Heartland was manipulating data or trying to mislead the public. By including the fake document, Gleick showed that the believers in global warming are still willing to deceive people to get what they want: a total transformation of our society.