Fakegate claims its first scalp.

The prominent climate alarmist Peter Gleick, has just admitted obtaining by identity theft the Heartland material and emailing it anonymously to journalists sympathetic to “the cause”. There are some things to be noted when reading his confession. It was obviously drafted with legal help and a very careful eye to not compromising his defence or compounding his problems by committing perjury.

He denies faking any material but whether or not you believe that from a person, who is now a self-confessed criminal, I’ll leave up to you. In my personal view, anyone who’s got no qualms in committing identity theft, would be unlikely to have any problem with faking material.

I would remind you though, that it’s common for criminals to admit to acts which they know can be proved but deny everything else they think can’t be proved. As any cop can tell you, it’s like peeling an onion.

As always, when trying to make sense of the actions of other people, the vital question to ask is why.

Why did he do it? It’s become obvious to even the most rabid believer in global warming, that the war has been going increasingly badly for the last two years. In their secret nightmares, I think they actually know it’s already lost. Despite a lot of massaging, the numbers are still nose diving. They’ve been cut loose by the politicians and the mainstream media (MSM) – apart from the more rabid organs of the latter.

Their reaction to this decline has been to spur them on to make progressively more extreme gestures and statements, in an attempt to win back the mob. It simply isn’t having any effect on broader public opinion and you can see their frustration over the lack of impact building. The numbers are still inexorably going south.

They needed something desperately and a big propaganda splash might just do the trick. He took it on himself to provide one and in doing so, has probably delivered a mortal blow to the credibility of those remaining elements in the MSM, who were the last committed allies of the movement.

The other part of answering the why question is that in my assessment, Peter Gleick is quite simply a fanatic. In a previous article on fanatics and how to fight them, I said “A fanatic’s real strength is that they’ll never give up, never rethink their position, are not proportionate and above all; don’t know when to stop.” It’s the “don’t know when to stop” bit that always delivers the self-inflicted mortal wound in the end. As their belief system crumbles, increasingly, any sense of proportion is lost. They’re no longer even thinking rationally.

When you actually think it through, as he should have done, it was inevitable that Fakegate would be exposed as bogus but that was bound to happen some time after the whole of the alarmist propaganda machine had committed itself to supporting what was going to be an easily exposed fiction. The big damage was always going to be to their credibility, if not their wallets.

What effect does this confession have on the wider Fakegate proceedings? None, I’d suspect, although it should simplify Heartland’s legal suits. The elements of the MSM already in the libel zone are still there and still piling up their liability too. I’m afraid the “don’t know when to stop” bit applies to them too. It’ll take a savage amount of financial bloodletting before they see sense, but that will happen in the end.

If there’s one thing the global warming movement has never done, it’s to tie off a liability. Predictably, they’ll defend him heroically all the way to the gates of the penitentiary and damn the reputation damage. It springs from that essential self-righteous arrogance that has always plagued them. Their whole movement is by now crippled by assorted Albatrosses like Gleick, Pachauri, Hansen and Jones hanging around its neck.

What ultimately makes Gleick a truly pathetic figure is that what he did, even if it had been successful, would have had no discernible effect on the final outcome of the war, except possibly hastening it. There’s simply no way that a vitriolic squabble between a cabal of activists and an institute the ordinary person had never heard of, was going to reverse the declining belief in the threat of global warming. The Heartland Institute extracting huge sums of money in punitive damages from prominent media outlets will however, have a huge propaganda impact.

He’s lost his integrity, his career and will ultimately lose his personal freedom because of a criminal act that was doomed to be futile, whatever happened.


Related articles by Pointman:

Some thoughts on fanatics and how to fight them.

The death of the AGW belief system.

Fakegate and post-modern journalism.

Click for a list of other articles.

16 Responses to “Fakegate claims its first scalp.”
  1. Bob TI says:

    Let’s hope it does to come to some major legal action ( which the MSM will report on… LOL)

    But I’m not holding my breath



  2. Bob TI says:

    Seems Gleick is to Chair the Task Force on Scientific Ethics

    They are asking for any comments & suggestions on their site ……


    Just sent mine



  3. colliemum says:

    What is getting overlooked in this ‘confession’ debate is that Gleick actually did state that he committed wire fraud – impersonating someone to obtain the authentic documents from the HI.

    “18 U.S.C. § 1343 provides:
    Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.”


    Talking about did he or didn’t he write the fake document, and did he receive it anonymously before he obtained the HI documents or not is not going to help with wire fraud. That is a federal offense, and the Feds do get active when a crime crosses state lines.
    Gleick is in California – the HI is not.

    Will be interesting to see how his lawyers will get him out of that one.


  4. Brian H says:

    HI just got a whole boatload of free publicity. I predict heightened support and expanded funding.


  5. A Lovell says:

    A fine analysis. The word fanatic wasn’t one I had thought of in terms of scientists and educated people who say they care, but it hits the nail on the head.

    Perhaps this is all going to end with a whimper rather than a bang.


  6. Samuel says:

    Gleik didn’t deny faking the memo. He denied altering the Heartland documents and the anonymous document. In fact his confession is written in such a way to imply that the memo is the anonymous document, without actually stating it (even though the document dates make such a scenario impossible).

    This may sound like hairsplitting, but it makes alot of sense when you look at his confession:

    “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.”

    That sounds like he is saying all the documents are from Heartland… until you realize he is just saying he didn’t alter the documents he got from Heartland. If you believe that the anonymous document wasn’t released, than it is entirely possible for Gleik to be telling the truth and to have produced the fake memo.


  7. JamesD says:

    He also stole a thing of value. The donor’s list is property that can be bought and sold. It is quite ironic that if he did the right thing and scrubbed the donor’s list, he would have a better defense. But now this could hang him.


  8. w.w.wygart says:

    What horrifies me the most in this whole sordid affair is the degree to which people who you might think ought to be rational, well educated, well informed – sane – and who purport to espouse liberal ideals are willing to rationalize and even lionize Gleick’s actions – witness S. Salmoney’s several comments [now closed] over at Andy Revkin’s DotEarth. Shocking.

    This reminded me of a passage from Romanian Philosopher E.M. Coiran rendered [very roughly] into English:

    “Ideas should be neutral, but man animates them with his passions and follies. Impure and turned into beliefs, they take on the appearance of reality. The passage from logic is consummated.
    Thus are born ideologies, doctrines and bloody farce.”

    or for those who care in the original French:

    En elle-même toute idea est neutre, ou devrait l’etre:
    mais l’homme l’anime y projette ses flammes et ses démences;
    impure, transformée en croyane, elle s’insére dans le temps.
    prende figure d’événement:
    Le passage de la logique à l’épilepsie est consommé…
    Ainsi naissent les idéologies, les doctrines, et les farces sanglantes.

    ~E.M. Coiran
    Precis de Décomposition

    [M’excuser s’il y a une erreur, la mémoire est cruelle, et je n’ai pas l’original sous la main.]

    It seems that the ‘climate wars’ we are living through have already descended into “bloody farce.”

    Those who have descended into such self-serving rationalization and self-delusion would be well recommended to remember that History is unkind to such personalities.




  9. Labmunkey says:

    Another good piece.

    I note that the legal phrasing only states that he forwarded on the verified documents unaltered, yet that actually precludes the faked one. It’s a very precise use of language and probably betrays what he actually did.

    The timelines will show whether it is possible that he DIDN’T fake it, i’d say from a first pass that he’s in real trouble here. As long as the HI go for him and everyone else all guns-blazing, i reckon there could be jail time here.


  10. Peter Crawford says:

    What surprised me in the reaction to Gleicks confession was the number of people who assumed the anonymous mail was the fake document. He (or his lawyers) were very careful only to imply that while never saying it explicitly.

    By the way I’ve written a rude limerick about the hapless Gleick that I’m reluctant to publish for fear of sending the man mad.


  11. NoIdea says:


    I wanted to believe, (the honest-man) when, he said he was a liar.
    A paragon of virtue, (a paladin of the virtual,) a battler against deniers!
    Now a paradox remains, (a Pandora’s box of stains), opened and inflamed.
    The fizzy-cyst, (the telling fist,) ethics missed and gamed-!
    The rabbit in the headlights, (so scared), too stunned to move or run.
    Or a sly fox of fakes amused, (bemused,) illuminated alone and done?



  12. Pointman says:

    This find I’ve got to share with you – some oik called James Garvey, writing in defense of Gleick. It turns out Mr. Garvey is Secretary of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and author of “The Ethics of Climate Change”. Basically, he says it okay to lie if you’re a climate scientist.


    I suppose that saves us a lot of arguing with them because whatever they say, we’ll know they’re liars. Personally, I’ve always considered they were …



  13. Pointman says:

    The Koch Foundation is losing patience with the New York Times, judging by this correspondence.


    The NYT either persists with the run around and the letters become legal, or they take a big bite out of the humble pie.

    I suppose they’ve either got Peter Gleick or their own arrogance to thank for being put in this position. Note again, they never got in touch with Koch before smearing them. Post-modern journalism but this time from the NYT …



  14. Pointman says:

    Oh dearie me, where will it all end? The ripples go on and on. It’s becoming a Tsunami.

    A letter from the Heartland Institute to the Board of Directors of the Pacific Institute, which Gleick helped to found.


    A lot of interesting questions being asked but the ones which will catch their attention are those seemingly innocent questions about whose equipment was used in the commission of Gleick’s crimes, which ultimately damaged HI’s reputation. His or the Pacific Institute’s?

    Just remember PI, it wasn’t Watergate that was fatal but the attempt to cover it up. People went to prison over that bit …



  15. scottc0317 says:

    We skeptics may have scored some hits but it will be much longer before the sheer size of the AGW movement (fueled by the vast wealth at risk) will succumb to our attacks. The Nobel Committee is vested in global warming’s success, as is the UN, the White House and who knows what all. I wish it were otherwise, but the skeptics’ blogs I am reading remind me of a self-satisfied dog who struts away after convinced he has chased a passing car off from his turf. Worse, the global warming crowd includes many who are part of the anti-human crowd. They want the earth to return to the days when a global population of approximately 1 million lives off of fruit and nuts. Anti-human passion will resurface in many other guises and this, I believe, is where the real battle must be fought and won.


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