What a shiny penny!

What a couple of weeks! Amazing stuff everywhere!

I have rethought it and I concede that the Wattsians and McArdle are right. The disputed memo is not plausibly from Bast or directly from Heartland. Nobody who speaks English fluently would plausibly use “anti-climate” to describe themselves under any circumstances.

But Peter Gleick. Who? You’re joking, right?

I have thought some more about it and this is what I think. When he was first accused, and as I and many others thought, wildly and implausibly accused, I expected a strong performance from Peter Gleick in the mode of Santer or Mann. Really better than Santer or Mann, who didn’t expect it and didn’t have the personality to easliy endure it. It didn’t cross my mind for a second that Peter was guilty.

But he is guilty, so now the question was, was it worth it? My first response was, along with everybody else’s, no, no way was it worth it, but surely Peter didn’t compose the Disputed Memo.

The publication of the emails by Heartland on fakegate.com have changed my mind. Peter made no attempt to be anonymous. As soon as they realized they were being spoofed, it was obvious to them that it was Peter. (Actually, he had to yank their chains pretty hard before they even noticed. What a transparent hack! Nitwits!)

But at that time, to the rest of us they were busy looking completely ridiculous. Gleick? “You’re joking, right?”

At this point all eyes were on DeSmog. Heartland got all SLAPPy and threatened to sue DeSmog and various middling blogs. In doing so, they made an enemy of the Slashdot crowd and the Anonymous crowd. Sympathy for Heartland among opinion leaders on the internet, formerly robust, largely evaporated.

The first of many truly excellent outcomes.

Finally, everybody was watching. The MSM eventually lumbered over to have a look. The left blogs were giggling and cackling, us not excluded. Finally they sent “real reporters”, the people who still inform the shrinking mass of the predigital. Anyway, as soon as big media were engaged, totally unexpectedly, and altogether spectacularly, Peter Gleick confessed!


They already knew it was Peter because he had practically told them so. There is no mystery about the memo involved in identifying the spoofer. The memo had nothing to do with it. Read the released emails on fakegate.com . Then compare to the prior email exchange in January. To summarize, “YHBT HAND”. (Look it up.)

So that’s why I don’t give much of a hoot anymore as to where the disputed memo comes from. I have a new SWAG, though. I suspect that it comes from an official Heartland memo issued in another language and then translated (back?) into English.

Who knows? I have decided that I mostly don’t care. But though it isn’t important where the memo came from, I am happy to talk about this particular distraction all you want.

 This article is correct in every detail except its final recommendation. We should keep talking about the memo. We should not cringe and pout like we do when the CRU hacking is cruelly called “Climategate” and the press rolls over and plays dead. We should only raise serious issues, but we should welcome it when the bad guys drag this episode out.

We should welcome talk about the disputed memo, because it allows us to talk about Peter Gleick, who he is, and why he would do such an outre’ thing. Because the more we talk about these things, the more people think about Heartland and its ilk. And that is precisely what we have been failing to do for decades. And precisely what Heartland does not want us to do.

See, I am impressed by a man (of whom I’ve long been, frankly, mightily jealous) taking retirement while still smart and vigorous, and achieving so much in the spectacular method of his retirement.

What Heartland has publicized is simply a series of communications wherein Peter steals some documents by pretending to be a crazy rich old man a donor, plainly takes their information in the lioght of day, and then plainly gives Heartland finger and waltzes offstage. It certainly changes the picture for me. Peter at no point made any effort to conceal his guilt from HI. It was obviously him from the last email.

In short, Peter has quit his job. Loudly and with a bang. And he has, actually, woken people up with that bang.

Consider this:

Peter Gleick has forced Andy Revkin to talk about Heartland! Callooh! Callay! Victory at last!

That is why the shiny penny doesn’t matter. Why the Disputed Memo doesn’t matter. And yet it does. The Disputed Memo is very interesting and shiny. And the more we discuss the shiny penny, the more attention goes toward Heartland itself, and away from their usual distractions.

The more play The Memo gets in the media, the more people think about Heartland and its brethren. And that is the last thing on earth Heartland and its brethren want.

Meanwhile, the GMU is trying to slip a particularly lame conclusion of the Wegman Affair past the press. They will probably succeed but it hardly matters. The internet does not forget. But that’s just as an aside.

Back to the main affair, I am sure Mashey cannot help feeling a bit resentful about all this. Here he does all the work, and Peter Gleick prances off with the blame!

Yes, there is a metric buttload of collateral damage to clean up, but when you really look at it, it is just the marks from so many jaws hitting the floor. The deed is done. The official renunciations and obligatory remonstrations are in. Peter’s career is over. Peter has retired, without the usual tedious testimonials and symposium. Bye, Peter!

Now let us look at the situation that Gleick really wants us to pay attention to. What are the limits of how much you can lie to the public without being criminally liable? If there are no such limits, how can we protect the public from marketable lies? From people who would essentially scorch the whole world to line their pocketbooks? That is exactly the issue at stake. And that issue, in fact, may reasonably be weighed against the value of an ongoing successful late-career scientific career.

Or let’s discuss the memo, yes. Geeze. I wonder who wrote the memo.

Peter was paid on the same basis as Bast. Both Peter Gleick and Joe Bast have been employed as de jure a staff member of a 501c3 and de facto its head and principal entrepreneur. And, I would guess, paid well.

So another guess I have is that Peter is resigning from his post because he wants to completely restructure the industry he was in, and couldn’t do that if he were still engaged in it. That is, the independent 501c3 research institution clearly is broken, and it turns out this is no small matter. It is broken to such an extent that democracy is crumbing in its wake. It is not research that happens in these places, for the most part. It is ideology.

And what ideology? It is perfectly clear. The ideology that “think tanks” promote is the ideology of cranky rich old men who are so nasty and paranoid that they have alienated their families. Believe me, that happens. And when it does, myFACTS is there to pick up the pieces.

But that brings me to the one mystery in this big picture that is still remaining. It is surprising that nobody has picked up on this one yet.

What did Garry Trudeau know, and when did he know it?

Anyway, fakegate. Fakegate fakegate fakegate.

I wonder what language the disputed memo was originally in. Is autotranslate that good?





  1. If whoever wrote the memo had your writing skills, he might have gotten away with it. The incident as an I quit moment is a fascinating take. Gleick probably did consider job related repercussions before embarking on his operation. Or did he? Did he think they'd be as severe as they seem to be? Were the memo not a fake, his actions could certainly be seen in a better ethical light. As for Heartland, rather than shying away, I think they are reveling in the exposure they are getting from the whole affair.

  2. I am also done with the memo. I have come to the conclusion that I have no idea who wrote it. There just isn't enough evidence.

    It might be real (perhaps and early draft?), or fake. And it could have been written by Elvis for all I know.

    I'll revisit it if more information surfaces, otherwise I am done listening to speculators.

  3. I agree that we want to get back to real issues on this site.

    I am just saying that discussing fakegate is tactically in our favour. When the opposition brings it up, we should not shy away from discussing it.

    Think tanks are a crucial part of the picture. Any time they say "fakegate" we get to say "think tanks".

    Yes, the subject of the Disputed Memo is completely moot itself. In hoping to be a site for responsible discussion of real issues, we should keep this off the front page from now on.

    But we have no reason to cringe when this is brought up, here or elsewhere. Everything Peter did seems to have been done deliberately and in a planned out sequence.

    Unlike all their other red herrings, Heartland cannot afford this one. Heartland seems to be comfortable coming up with misleading nonsense around anything else. But they don;t want to discuss Heartland.

    Also, they cannot afford to charge or sue Peter, exposing themselves to discovery, and they cannot afford not to, exposing themselves to the impatience of their erstwhile supporters. They cannot keep this affair out of the news. And anytime this affair is in the news, Heartland itself is part of the conversation. And Heartland being the story is the only thing that Heartland (and the whole facts-for-hire industry) fear.

    So I am glad to discuss it any time it comes up.


  4. MT:

    they cannot afford not to, exposing themselves to the impatience of their erstwhile supporters.

    Sure they can. Heartland can pretend to sue without actually suing.

    John Coleman v. Gore anyone? Tattersall v. Laden? Monckton v. ... the whole blogosphere? I'm sure there are more examples of such phantom lawsuits. Such phantom lawsuits don't fool us, but they do fool "their erstwhile supporters".

    There should be a way to force Heartland to open itself to discovery.

    -- frank

  5. Also, there's the key thing about Jedi mind-bending tricks that Heartland gets, and we don't get.

    The key thing is that Jedi mind-bending tricks are supposed to be other people.

    We on the other hand keep applying Jedi mind-bending tricks to ourselves. We keep convincing ourselves that the current state of affairs is good, or at least they'll turn better without us doing anything, and so on, and in any case there's nothing we can do. We keep repeating our own comforting myths to ourselves. We keep believing, hoping, rationalizing our impotence.

    And for what?

    If a state of affairs is wrong, then it's wrong, independent of whether we have much power to change it or not. If the media's incessant focus on this "Fakegate" nonsense is wrong, then it is wrong, period. And it is wrong. There's no point whatsoever in fooling ourselves into thinking that it's right.

    -- frank

  6. Read the links at the fakegate site, and tell me Gleick didn't plan things to turn out exactly as they have so far.

    He never intended to hide. Why?

    To get Heartland in the papers and on people's minds.

    What is this organization? How is it possible for such a predatory thing to thrive?

    Every time Gleick comes up, you can raise the subject of motive. Because the whole thing, all the way up to the accusation, looks deliberate. So why get yourself into so much trouble on purpose?

    The asnwer is easy: because think tanks are out of control and actively destroying public discourse.

    And in this case it's just to skim a few million bucks from confused rich people, and for no other reason. This is a particularly ethically challenged group.

    Peter nuked his whole career to get that on the docket. And when people question Peter's judgment, that gives us an opening to question Bast's.

    They say fakegate, you say all the gates are fake. They say Gleick, you say Bast. They say memo, you say tobacco.

    They want this to go away. But I don't care whether it does. We shouldn't raise it of course. And I'm not saying they won't say "Gleick" to divert attention from Heartland. And I'm not saying that the press won't try that easy escape from the issues.

    I am saying we should not slink away and cringe when this happens. We should say, hell, yes, Fakegate. Hell yes, Gleick.

    Look at what those Heartland bastards do to us for a few lousy bucks. Thank you, Peter, for pointing that out. Now it's finally on the table. Let's keep it there.

  7. The consequence that makes zero sense whatsoever: Peter Gleick fabricates a memo which he would have known, with pretty much absolute certainty, would be denounced as a fake by Heartland. Can someone please explain?

  8. MT - Interesting take on things. I have a hard time believing Gleick would nuke himself this way intentionally, but it's no more crazy than thinking he would get away with it.

    "Also, they cannot afford to charge or sue Peter, exposing themselves to discovery, and they cannot afford not to, exposing themselves to the impatience of their erstwhile supporters."

    This is exactly the point I've been pondering. What does Heartland do next?

  9. All these ideas on who wrote the questionable memo are clearly barking up the wrong tree. I've gone to "the Google" and looked for instances of "anti-climate" pre-dating this Valentine's day. I think you'll find, as I did, that Mormon geologist Barry Bickmore and Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein are the primary individuals responsible.

    And where is the highest concentration of Mormons in Canada? Alberta. Exactly where the oil sands are. Connect the dots people! This is obviously a trap set by Syncrude (an ExxonMobil subsidiary) to try to draw attention away from their KeystoneXL pipeline plans. Did you notice they conveniently coopted Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver in their support just this past week too (I mean, really, who cares about 0.03 degrees?)

    And anybody who doubts my conclusions here, just look how much more plausible this is than that giant conspiracy of the world's climate scientists and scientific societies that Climategate proved, hmm? 🙂

  10. There was an anti Heartland video uploaded to YouTube 23 February. It's very well made and would have taken time to produce. Makes the whole episode look like a coordinated effort by a group of people to damage Heartland. If true, then Gleick quickly fell on his sword in an attempt to spare the others. Blows apart the intentional retirement by fire idea IMO.

  11. Well, it does keep people talking about Heartland!

    But we aren't sure it was authored by Gleick! It could well have been an anonymous piece of paper received in the US mail.

    I mean, there are a lot of people out there injured by Heartland. It's not fashionable to be very concerned about rich families, but you can be sure that various heirs and heiresses are not happy about the way Heartland extracts value from the family holdings and pisses it away on Singer, Idso, the HI staff, and fancy new digs in the Loop.

    An anonymous mail drop is not inconsistent with my current theory, that it is a paste job from Google Translate of some text that Heartland originally released in another language.

    Which leaves me free to speculate about the language.

    Perhaps it was Icelandic?

  12. A link would be handy; I couldn't turn it up.

    But not having seen the video, I would surmise that an organized effort itself actually doesn't refute Gleick's deliberate retirement as he could have been part of the organized effort.

    It also appears not unlikely that Garry Trudeau was involved.

    Again, if you look at the emails from January and February that Heartland has released, it sure looks like Gleick did it and didn't try to cover his tracks at all. But it's true that for all that it doesn't explain the language of the peculiar memo.

    Perhaps it was originally written in Cherokee?

  13. Here's a link to the video, couldn't post a link from apple's proprietary utube viewer, had to switch to a pc.


    MT - Re: Peculiar language of the memo - personally I would say the language in the memo is something point to Gleick. Gleick's writing style and his total inability to use punctuation correctly, causes me picosecond aneurysms. When he writes, he has a turrets like habit of including random semi-relevant thoughts in each sentence. I constantly have to back up and sort out his sentence structure to make sense of it.

    It would be difficult for him to write a professional looking document. And he has published the phrase 'anti-climate'(which I guess is balanced out by the equally idiotic term 'pro-AGW').

    I'm not as convinced as I was that he wrote it, but I'd still lean in that direction. Though I know you're interest in 'who' is waning.

    [ Presumably you mean Tourette's (, and, also your punctuation gripe is (ironically (as I can't resist pointing out) mispunctuated))?

    I see no sign that Gleick had any intentions but to be caught. But it's not hard for me to believe that the memo really was an anonymous mail drop. Possibly translated from the Portuguese. As many people point out, there's not much benefit to faking it. I have not found any comparable uses on the net of "anti-climate" to refer to a group of people as opposed to their actions. But it might not be such a weird clunker in Portuguese.

    Disclaimer: I do not know a single word of Portuguese, Urdu, Icelandic or Cherokee. -mt ]

  14. Pingback: Do Not Take Your Eyes Off Lex Luthor (Heartland Institute) « Global Warming: Man or Myth?

  15. Here's an idea which I'm going to so subconsciously slip into your brain:

    Is Heartland going all-guns-ablazing on Gleick because he rejected their invitation to a debate?

    Now go forth and multiply! The idea, that is. That should keep the peanut gallery occupied for a while.

    -- frank

  16. Some other uses of anti-climate (in the headlines no less!) pre-Valentine's Day:

    David L. Brown: http://starphoenixbase.com/?p=1119

    Stephen Lacey: http://www.alternet.org/environment/152176/enviro_and_conservative_anti-climate_groups_team_up_on_plan_to_cut_subsidies_to_reduce_budget/

    Bahar Gidwani: http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/01/news-corps-anti-climate-stance-impact-csr-rating/

    Also I note that Peter's emails to Heartland suggest he was impersonating a new member of the board rather than one who had been on it a while. Their old chairman died last October (Bast replaced him) - so who was added most recently? Schmitt was added in 2010 (there's a press release here: http://news.heartland.org/press-releases/2010/02/12/harrison-schmitt-joins-heartland-institute-board-directors ) - but I can't find any recent press release announcing new members.

  17. Ah, archive.org does have some previous records of their board:

    So the ones listed now who weren't there in 2009 are Collins, Judson, Lamendola, Lang and Schmitt. Schmitt was added January 2010.

    A more recent board list is in this Dec 2011 pdf:

    which includes Collins and Judson and Schmitt, but not Lamendola and Lang. However, this E&CN dated Nov 2011 includes Lamendola (and not Lang):


    A search finds very few pages at heartland.org mentioning Chuck Lang. So I'm guessing he's the newbie and most likely the one Peter Gleick pretended to be... unless there's another even newer board member not even listed on their site (they're supposed to have a board of 15 but only 14 are listed).

  18. Just to point out the memo is a development (fundraising) doc and there's a new development director in place. Given Heartland's stated fundraising difficulties, there's reason to think she was hired for her professional skills rather than degree of true belief. Consequently, she may not have the lingo down very well as yet. And then why worry too much about editing something not intended to be circulated beyond a few individuals?

    Speaking of lingo, they do make it a little hard to keep track. I notice e.g. that Bast refers to the "freedom movement" internally but seems to have settled on "truth movement" for external purposes. Cueing Orwell...

  19. Micheal, when I saw "anti-climate" i took it to be an unedited document where the intended meaning was "anti-climate science." Plus as noted in my other comment, I suspect the author was someone not thoroughly steeped in the lingo.

    That said, I'll go with Urdu.

  20. Sigh. You are all delusional. Most of us out here don't have strong opinions on things like climate science. We do have strong opinions on wire fraud. And forging documents.

    All your theories on how Gleick planned to be caught are just absurd. If he'd planned to be caught, he could have said so, proudly (O'Keefe-ish), and the story would look very different. He is making his supporters look like clowns. (This post is an example, though you are closer to reality than most of the insane stuff I'm seeing. At least you can see that there's something wrong with the strategy memo.) His story about getting the document in the mail is absurd too. Presumably he wrote it, or was connected with the one who did.

    It seems to me that your whole approach is based on, Gleick is too smart to be such an idiot. Well, that's not how it works; smart people can be idiots too.

    As for the damage done to Heartland, I think most of us out here think that there was nothing whatever to harm them in those documents. They want to push their opinion. Wow. In schools. Okay, that's a place lots of people push their opinions. Wow. They don't have all that much money, and it isn't from oil companies. Huh.

    The real impact of this incident is similar to Climategate: Your average civilian gets an impression that climate scientists aren't scientists, they're angry political advocates. That'll help convince us that Heartland is wrong about the science. Contratulations, Dr. Gleick. Good plan.

  21. MikeR:

    You are all delusional. Most of us out here don't have strong opinions on things like climate science. We do have strong opinions on wire fraud. And forging documents.

    Since when is your "opinion" all-important? The laws of physics don't care what you think. You, on the other hand, should care what the laws of physics think.

    Because if there are no laws of physics, then there's no you.

    Gleick understands the laws of physics and seeks to get others to understand them too. Heartland wants you to pretend the laws of physics are a 'hoax'.

    None of this is hard to understand -- if you are willing to understand it.

    -- frank

  22. Frank, we aren't discussing the laws of physics. I gave no opinion about climate change, and I'm not qualified to give one. I'll leave it up to the scientists. We're discussing the laws of politics. What will be the impact of Gleick's actions? I think it's obvious that it will be very negative for pro-AGW supporters. It already is. That's what's delusional: You're sure that because you're right about the science, you're right about the politics. And you just aren't.

  23. Heh. I'd certainly stop short of asserting that everyone here is delusional, but I confess that my own (evolving) opinion has a lot in common with the one you (MikeR) have expressed here. I talked about this (way too much) in a rambling post on my blog yesterday; anyone delusional enough to want more fact-free opinioneering on the infamous strategy memo can find it there:


    I assumed from his somewhat over-the-top tone (and the repeated language gags in his comments) that Michael doesn't intend the position he argued in the original post above to be taken completely seriously. This is serious stuff, I realize, but even a serial obsessive like me is getting close to his saturation point.

    If Gleick's story of receiving the strategy memo in the mail before he phished the rest of the documents is true, I wish he would do what McArdle suggested he do back on February 21, and produce the original mailed memo, along with its envelope and postmark, demonstrating that the memo was forged before he obtained the phished documents. By doing so, there would be a chance of shifting the focus back on Heartland as being connected to someone who forged the memo using the internal documents as part of a dirty tricks campaign aimed at Gleick.

    The longer this goes with Gleick remaining silent as to the status of the original memo, and (especially) of its envelope and postmark, the harder it gets to believe that the strategy memo was anything other than an attempt by Gleick to sex up the release. And speaking completely seriously, without any attempt at irony or levity or whatever emotion is was that led Michael to write this post (which I loved) the way he did, knowing that Gleick had been that dishonest would take this to a place where I would just have to shake my head and get off the bus, because there's no way I can justify that kind of action. Not because the stakes aren't high enough to justify extreme measures; they are. But because of the horribly damaging effect it would have on public opinion. It wouldn't change anything about the physics of climate change, I acknowledge. But it would do awful things to the timeline for building consensus and taking action.

    Great: We're all talking about Heartland, they're in the news, Heartland, Heartland, Heartland, 24-7. But if the average person hearing it comes away with, "Hm. These Heartland guys don't sound so bad. And that climate scientist sounds like a dick," well, then we're all screwed.

  24. Joking aside, the possibility that Gleick did all this deliberately, calmly, and in consultation with intelligent and ethically minded allies, remains entirely plausible to me.

    The usual epistemically-closed meanderings of Heartland victims, and the overstated frothing that ensues is entirely to be expected under the cricumstances. Nevertheless, much good (which is to say, attention to Heartland as an institution, which Heartland does not want, and attention to the entire ethically challeged industry it is a small part of) has already come of this affair.

    As for whether the modus operandi of the Heartland Institute consists largely of elder abuse, that would be mere speculation on my part.

    Just as people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, people are presumed competent until proven incompetent. Such proof can be considerably delayed if the incompetent person has the means to engage attorneys, especially when other legally and politically talented persons surround them, protecting them and/or taking advantage of them.

    Regarding an organization that apparently can be hired not only to defend unfettered carbon emissions, but also actual old-fashioned toxic pollution, not to mention tobacco, and many of whose donors obviously tend toward the elderly rich crank corner of the population, a fair consideration would have to acknowledge the existence of a rather slippery slope.

  25. The whole episode is just so depressing. On another thread PDA told me I should be riding high. I'm not. I have enjoyed reading the comment threads, and taking a small part in a few, which I feel guilty about that. My crime? Simple, I don't buy the consensus estimate on climate sensitivity, which I won't argue about now. So anyway, I'm a denier.

    But god damn Gleick pulls this idiotic crap to setup Heartland, a total non-factor in the 'debate', that nobody outside of a small circle ever heard of or likely read a single piece of information from. Great, so all the most rabid wuwt nutters get to crow, MT gets to go on about how evil heartland is (respectfully sir, they're meaningless) and none of us are any more knowledgable or find the tiniest piece of ground to agree on.

    A car crash with fatalities and I can't look away. Awesome.

  26. we aren't discussing the laws of physics. I gave no opinion about climate change, and I’m not qualified to give one. I'll leave it up to the scientists.

    The laws of physics are real whether you're thinking about them or not. A flood doesn't need to ask for your "opinion" before it goes ahead to flood your house.

    We’re discussing the laws of politics.

    As far as I can tell, the First Law of Politics is that when anyone these days writes up a 'political analysis' of any event, it's almost invariably wrong.

    And that's because the typical 'political analysis' tends to abandon actual thought and logic in favour of prepackaged argumentative (anti-)patterns filled with bull. Oh, and spin.

    So you can go 'look, squirrel!' and 'nothing here, move, move, move along!' all you want. But at the end of the day, the Earth -- the Earth you live on -- continues to warm.

    Gleick knows this. Heartland wants you to ignore this. But global warming's there even if you ignore it -- and it'll come and bite you, and it doesn't care about your opinion.

    That's just how ironclad the laws of physics are. The laws of physics always win.

    -- frank

  27. OK, so by your argument, D. robinson, why should anyone address what you say, when you're just another "meaningless" guy? By your own standard, will it be OK for MT to simply delete your comments because, after all, you're "meaningless"?

    -- frank

  28. Oh holy crap:


    Stratfor's response is interesting:

    "[...] Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them.

    "Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them."

    I think it helps that the US media is likely to talk about matters of graver import, such as Rick Santorum's latest bon mot.

    -- frank

  29. Heartland, with its support is NIPCC, is far from "meaningless," but I tend to agree if your overall argument is that in the grand scheme of things it matters little what David Wojick (sp?) or Joe Bast (or Joe Bastardi) say.

    Climate policy is held hostage to the current political climate, wherein even Democratic leaders call for tax cuts, bomb foreign lands with impunity, and hold secret prisoners indefinitely. In an earlier era, the IPCC was created in a treaty signed by George W. Bush's father.

    When a change comes - if it comes - it is unlikely to be due to various "-gates" or blog posts or protests, but as a cultural shift. The idea that North America may yet grow out of its current adolescent tantrum may seem far-fetched at this moment. It may, after all, come far too late. But as long as everything is grist for the "red-vs.-blue" mill, it seems unlikely that anything other than stalemate will be the result.

    (This is not mean to be dismissive of the many folks posting or lurking here who have done far more than I ever will in the field of climate communication... just, one hopes, as encouragement that nothing remains static for long.)

  30. As I told Scott offline, I remain unconvinced that exxonsecrets is a credible source, and frankly I don't find the graphic as much informative as suggestive.

    Perhaps rather than infographics, we might call this innuendographics.

    Far better to look at John Mashey's work for the details of this bizarre alliance.

  31. John Mashey's magnum opus, coincidentally called "Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax" makes the case clearly enough for the importance of Heartland and the network of related operations of which it is an integral part.

    Mashey's claims are germane, and I will quote form the first pages of his extensive report:

    Science is built through credible peer-reviewed journals, but anti-science or “advocacy science” uses OpEds, blogs, newsletters and personal attacks on scientists. It is fake “advocacy science” designed to confuse non-scientists, often for financial and/or ideological reasons. Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals.

    - “Fake science” reports have long been used by tobacco companies and others who privatize profits and socialize large losses or risks

    - “Independent experts” write fake science reports that would quickly be rejected by real science journals, but confuse the target audience. “Fakexperts” such as Michael Crichton are relentlessly quoted and promoted as though scientifically credible.

    - Fake education and disinformation is distributed via well-organized PR channels, newsletters, blogs, often to legislators. Some think tanks clearly focus on PR and lobbying, not research or education, but still claim to be tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charities. Some “patterns and practices” of odd money flows emerge only by comparing sets of charities’ public IRS Form 990s with external context.


    Heartland Institute’s Joseph Bast staunchly defended “Joe Camel,” the infamous campaign to addict younger children. Heartland got tobacco funding for many years, along with a Philip Morris Board member.

    Whitney Ball’s DONORS TRUST funded a major expansion of Heartland climate anti-science. Singer collected old associates to help write “NonGovernmental International Panel on Climate Change“ (NIPCC) reports, filled with unsupported claims and long-refuted anti-science. He was helped by Craig Idso, of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CDCDGC), whose money flows also seem unusual. Robert Ferguson’s Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) was a website and a PO Box in a UPS store and he was actually a CSCDGC employee.

    Under Jay Lehr and James Taylor, anti-science permeated Heartland’s Environment and Climate News (E&CN) sent mostly to elected officials. Heartland incessantly touted its access and influence with such officials, but its tax forms claimed no lobbying. It ran “fake science” conferences, paying for government staff attendance. It sent money to foreign noncharity advocacy groups, sent anti-science handbooks to school boards and urged parents to complain. It has been criticized in Nature and Science.

  32. I think talking about the memo is a distraction. Remember that the content of the memo is a distillation of what's in the other documents and no one disputes their authenticity. Focusing on the memo's authorship takes away from focusing on Heartland. So does speculating on Gleick's motives and plans (or lack thereof).

  33. Yes and no.

    That depends on context. Right now they are out there promoting this Fakegate meme. This is an uncharacteristic tactical error, exactly because it is part of the larger story of exposing them and their methods.

    I think the more they keep the story alive, the more opportunities we have to discuss the larger issues.

    Of course, as you say, when we raise the various issues they will try to use the Mysterious Memo as a distraction. And as usual we need to watch out for their rhetorical tricks.

    But right now they are out there flogging the Mysterious Memo on their own. And every time they do, people will think about what could possibly make someone like Peter Gleick act so peculiarly, and they will start thinking about think tanks.

    When people think about think tanks rather than about tank thinks, I say thanks.

    The name "fakegate" is going to send people directly to Mashey's "Fake Science, Fakexperts, Funny Finances, Free of Tax", as well, expecially if we can help it, which we can, which is a huge fail for them.

    And they are making uncharacteristic tactical errors for one reason only: they are panicking.

    So, fakegate. Fakegate, fakegate, fakegate, fakegate.

  34. Pingback: Comment at Kloor’s | Planet3.0

  35. With regard to the Trudeau cartoon, Wiley Miller got there first I think http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2007/10/02

    and the following strips.

    "When does ethics come in to the picture?"
    "When the client's checks don't clear"

  36. Frank, is it worth trying again to point out that you are _off topic_? We are discussing political impacts. It has nothing to do with the physics of climate change. We are discussing whether Heartland will gain or lose from this incident.

    "when anyone these days writes up a ‘political analysis’ of any event, it’s almost invariably wrong." Is that your contribution? Politics is too hard, everyone gets it wrong, so we should just do whatever we want and not worry about it at all? Not many agree with you. Heartland certainly doesn't - they spend millions a year on the assumption that they can thereby get more of what they want politically. So does the Audubon Society. So, apparently, does the author of this post, only IMHO he's upside down on how it will work.

    Please wise up: You can be right about the physics and still lose in the political arena. Most of us who aren't scientists (I am, or was, but that has nothing to do with this discussion) tend to trust scientists most of the time. That's when we think they are honest scientists. When we think they are political advocates - like Gleick - willing to lie for their side - like Gleick - we stop trusting them. Most people are never going to read the research papers, or work through the math. The minute you give up your natural advantage of being "impartial scientists", the average citizen no longer has any way of telling the difference between you and Heartland. Don't do it.

  37. In any case, don't do it habitually.

    Of course, in something like this, you only get to do it at most once, presuming you were prominent before it started. So I don't expect a long line of people to follow suit!

    One trouble with adding Gleick to your pantheon of villains is that it changes little from the side of anti-climatology. Perhaps Gleick's confessed guilt will take a bit of heat off of perfectly innocent (not perfect, but perfectly innocent of scientific malfeasance) people like Santer and Mann and Jones.

    Talking about Mann dives into tedious minutiae about tree species and drives most people off in enervated boredom. (By the way, the two people whom I know of and trust, who have taken a serious look at the most criticized aspects of Mann's technical work, found nothing suspicious about the methods.)

    Talking about Gleick, on the other hand, raises the issue of who the think tanks are, and how much influence they have, and what, if anything motivates them to be honest. Which is a real, relevant, salient, first-order political topic, not a pseudoscientific sleight-of-hand.

    On balance, I'll take it.

  38. “when anyone these days writes up a ‘political analysis’ of any event, it’s almost invariably wrong.” Is that your contribution? Politics is too hard, everyone gets it wrong, so we should just do whatever we want and not worry about it at all? Not many agree with you. Heartland certainly doesn’t – they spend millions a year on the assumption that they can thereby get more of what they want politically. So does the Audubon Society. So, apparently, does the author of this post, only IMHO he’s upside down on how it will work.Ignoratio elenchi. I said political analyses tend to be bull. You tried to 'disprove' that by talking about how political action can be effective.

    Hey, didn't I say that 'political analyses' tend to be full of fallacious bull?

     * * *

    Anyway, I offer this little fable.

    Suppose, for whatever reason, Peter Gleick is playing against Joseph Bast in a game chess. There's a huge audience watching the game, and lots of reporters covering the game.

    In the middle of the game, someone who's not you suddenly stands up and shouts 'Waaaah! All of you are deluded! The fact is, Gleick is going to lose! Look at all his wrong moves! Gleick is going to lose! Gleick is going to lose! Gleick is going to lose!'

    What'll you think of that person? Will you think that he's a wise guy everyone should simply listen to? Or would you think he's at best a blowhard, and at worst someone sent to purposely disrupt the game and its coverage?

    Me, I have no doubt what I'll say to the bloke: "Shut the f███ up and just sit down and watch the game."

     * * *

    And so, MikeR, that's what I'll say to you. Shut the f███ up and just sit down and watch the game.

    -- frank

  39. Another response (which I wrote at Prof. Mandia's blog) is this: saying one shouldn't go after Heartland because it's unimportant, is like saying one shouldn't go after a person who only committed one murder, because there are mass murderers and serial killers out there.

    -- frank

  40. Frank, I disagree. Heartland is not just evil, but also important in the grand scheme of things.

    However, Heartland's defensive posture that they are of trivial importance is most amusing. I hope someone makes sure all the donors hear about that.

  41. Fascinating!

    What would have happened if CRU had taken this stonewalling tactic?

    "We haven't verified them as yet, and don't plan to release the results of our fastidious investigation until January of 2185 at the earliest."

    Honesty may be the best policy in science, but there's a reason lawyers are so stingy with information.

    Of course, whether we are in a strategic battle or a scientific inquiry is, according to some, decided on a case-by-case basis depending on whether the release of information would be convenient for those who want to prevent rational policy discussions from ever starting.

  42. Actually, I go back to Chris Mooney's Republican War on Science. As far as I know, the connections in ExxonSecrets and Sourcewatch are largely correct if one checks but it's possible they are out of date. People are fond of calling out Greenpeace, I know, but I understood these lines are drawn things like from Annual Reports and tax returns.

    Do you have any specific evidence that those connections either didn't exist or no longer exist?

    I am tired of the circular firing squad and insiders who claim that pointing out the facts creates an "own goal" situation, but if there are actual errors I'd like to know. I believe the PR machine is quite expert at getting us to shoot at each other.

    Instead of caving in when one is called an extremist, I think one should double down on the facts. However, I am willing to be corrected if there is backup for the correction.

  43. P3 is not a team player. P3 seeks truth-based sanity.

    I don't think nothing like this is going on, but the picture is obviously a crude simplification. I think somebody needs to plow through Mashey's stuff and clean up the graphics, rather than just point to unverified scribbles from advocacy sites.

    Susan, also, I do NOT think exxonsecrets is "on my side" in any sense. The very name offends me.

    The people we need to recruit most of all are energy professionals. It doesn't excuse everything Exxon has done nor defend our current form of capitalism to say we cannot afford to damage the core capacities of the energy sector nor (implicitly or explicitly) to treat engineers with contempt.

  44. "In the middle of the game, someone who’s not you suddenly stands up and shouts ‘Waaaah! All of you are deluded! The fact is, Gleick is going to lose! Look at all his wrong moves! Gleick is going to lose! Gleick is going to lose! Gleick is going to lose!‘" Frank, perhaps you don't realize that this whole post is like that. Why are you more sympathetic to Michael saying, "Gleick (/anti-Heartland) is going to win!"? I'm guessing that it's because you just prefer hearing that.

    Your point about the difference between political analysis and political action is a good one, but: If you can't do political analysis, there's no way to do effective political action either. Heartland thinks it knows just what will happen when it pushes this story, and it is pushing it hard (giving press conferences, creating a special website, threatening to sue, apparently calling in the FBI). They are licking their chops; they think they've found a goldmine. Gleick, on the other hand, is laying very very low. Probably because his lawyers have told him to, but it leaves the rest of us high and dry.

    I'm perfectly willing to sit and watch the game. Unfortunately, you guys are playing the game as well, not just watching. Part of what Heartland gains in this is the vast number of green websites posting, pardon me, absolutely clueless stuff. They are very visible and are going to look very very foolish when, before or during discovery, or in return for a smaller sentence, Gleick finally confesses to forging the strategy document and destroys all their convoluted theories. They are also looking foolish in the meantime as they publicly tie themselves into knots, propounding bizarre theories, refusing to deal with the reality of what Gleick has done to them.

  45. The picture changes very little even if Gleick completely made up the disputed memo. That is exactly my point.

    The picture is of a group of people dressing up as a nonprofit and acting as a PR agency for an array of disreputable industries and plutocratic causes. Gleick, stupidly or cleverly, sacrificed his career to call attention to the larger fact, and likely broke some laws doing it. Every time somebody brings Gleick's trangressions to the table, we have an opportunity to compare them with Heartland's.

    The scientific community is not without its own problems, strategic, tactical and ethical. Deliberate anti-science has been making some of them worse. But there is no doubt whatsoever that the ethics of the anti-science network is vastly worse. That's why attacking Gleick is not a great tactic for y'all, but by all means keep at it. Just understand that we will keep changing the subject back to Heartland when you do.

  46. Well, I guess I will sit down and wait and see. But, "y’all"? How did I get into this story? I don't even like Heartland, talk of thousands of scientists participating in "a massive hoax" just leaves me scratching my head, and, as I said, I don't have much of a right to an opinion about the science. But you know that for people like me who don't follow the science in detail, Frank's claims that "physics can't be fooled" aren't going to help at all. I'm sure physics is true, the universe is right! Question is, what is the universe telling me? Usually I/the average American would just ask some scientists and find out. Here, that's getting harder to do. I can't see why I would go to Heartland for my answers, but I don't know that I would go to most climate scientists either. This kind of thing just makes them sound less sensible and less reliable.
    That's my point - climate scientists have a lot more to lose here than Heartland.
    Anyhow, thanks for listening. I guess we'll see.

  47. OK, fair enough.

    But if you start from I don’t even like Heartland, talk of thousands of scientists participating in “a massive hoax” just leaves me scratching my head, and, as I said, I don’t have much of a right to an opinion about the science ho do you get to I don’t know that I would go to most climate scientists either?

    You get there because of a constant, relentless flood of innuendo, misinterpretation, calumny, barratry, disingenuousness, cynicism, fallacy, sophistry, and almost every other sort of dishonest argumentation known to humanity, possibly just barely excluding demonstrable lies. Maybe. All directed at a small group of scientists coming out of a tradition that was controversy-averse and not interested in the limelight. Yeah, you see weird reactions, but why? Could it be the double stress of having an obligation to deliver bad news and a bunch of bastards willing to sell you up the river to avoid having anybody believe you?

    Do you suppose a position like that is fun?

  48. I will have to look elsewhere to find out if there are errors in the graphic. There is no part of Mashey's link that I didn't know by heart.

    "truth based sanity"?

    So many people with so many agendas and such uncompromising positions. In the meanwhile, Heartland and their ilk are unified.


    I'd best stop before I swallow the foot in my mouth. This thread was a hoot.

  49. Susan, yes, this too.

    But "exxonsecrets" has always rubbed me the wrong way. I can't help that.

    And the graphic is nothing that I'd show Dr. Tufte. That is to say, between graphics that clarify and graphics that obfuscate, that one is on the obfuscatory side.

  50. This goes a bit deeper than just Harris.

    He also said most of the material was provided by Patterson [Tim - head of the Earth Sciences department]. "95% of my course material was his stuff," Harris said.

    Tim Patterson wrote this on his own Carleton U page

    was appointed chairman of the International Climate Science Coalition in 2008.

    Although he is not listed on the ICSC page. This demands attention. One must wonder what the hell is going on up there. If true, we possibly have think tanks hiring each other to teach nonsense in colleges. Does this rabbit hole have an end?

    BTW, Patterson believes we are in for a fit of cooling later in the decade.

  51. Is the ICSC claim about their funding consistent with the payments received from Heartland?

    "Since its formation in 2007, ICSC has never received financial support from corporations, foundations or governments. 99% of all donations have come from private individuals in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, United States and Canada.

    While we welcome contributions from all sources, including corporations, foundations and government, and are actively soliciting support, ICSC operates as a non-partisan entity, not left or right and independent of political or commercial vested interests. We will not accept donations that are contingent on ICSC promoting a point of view in favour of, or against, any philosophical, political or commercial interest. The identities of all donors are kept strictly confidential to protect their privacy and safety."

  52. Whatever Gleick's motives or expectations, his extremely harmful actions arise from a reliance on political and government processes. The inherent partisanship leads to the 'this is war mentality' that requires enemies who are evil. If this be tragedy, the aversion to introspection among the committed is the root.

    Whether Heartland will be harmed by the publicity is still up for grabs. Of course, if Gleick's actions cause provable loss by Heartland of anything that can be broadly considered property, the argument that a crime has been committed is strengthened. He has hired some very serious lawyers. Heartland is sending letters.

  53. I don't follow "actions arise from a reliance on political and government processes".

    Re "harmful", whether the actions are on balance harmful to anyone besides Peter Gleick who asked for it and Heartland who richly deserves it remains to be seen.

  54. If we rely instead on the ability of the people to act with purpose in a social rather than a political/governmental process, our efforts focus on cooperation rather than confrontation. More importantly, it eliminates the need for political majorities. My belief is that there is a sufficient number of people desirous of as rapid as possible energy transformation to succeed through a cooperative social approach.


    One of reasons I come here is that MT doesn't have the aversion to introspection. Joe Romm and his band of commenters are a good example of the set of those who do. I don't read enough blogs on the "other side" to name one there, but am sure someone else could.

  55. Well, Paul, taking you at your word, I wish you'd either tell us the details of your plan; or at least I hope you are putting it into practice somehow.

    I wish you were right, but as things stand, I think you hugely underestimate the challenges and constraints.

  56. Paul Kelly is obsessively fixated on the idea of Achieving Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™, to the point that he doesn't realize that there are other things in the world that matter, e.g. not making decisions based on garbage. If you scour the climate blogosphere for his comments, you'll realize that it's the only issue he ever talks about.

    Fixated -- like an Apple Mac fanboy who can't figure out that there's more to life than just getting everything to look like a Mac.

    -- frank

  57. MikeR:

    I'm sure physics is true, the universe is right! Question is, what is the universe telling me? Usually I/the average American would just ask some scientists and find out. Here, that's getting harder to do.

    Because you're using political 'reasoning', not actual reasoning.

    To continue my analogy: Suppose, while watching the chess game, someone else who's not you tells you, in no uncertain terms, that the outcome of the chess game will determine whether your house will get flooded in the next 24 hours.

    Question: do you believe him?

    Me, I certainly wouldn't. Floods don't care about the outcomes of chess game. Floods don't care about electoral math, or the news cycle, or Wikileaks, or even what the US Constitution says. Floods just behave according to the laws of physics, period.

    And yet what you propose is precisely the same as deciding a flood's course based on a chess match!

    Does anyone still not see what's wrong with this?

    -- frank

  58. MT,

    The Leo High Project is up and running. The kickoff event in November was successful in raising awareness and garnering publicity. The event also brought in a little over $12,000 into the project fund. All who would like to contribute can do so by sending a check of any amount to Leo High School 7901 South Sangamon, Chicago IL 60620. Write renewal project on the memo line, and yes it is tax deductible.

    I should point out that while the project initially was for new energy efficient windows and doors, a professional assessment of the building's needs determined that plumbing and water pressure issues needed to be addressed first. This will delay the energy transformation piece, but it is still a worthy effort.

    My plan is aggregated micro participation in the energy transformation deployment market. It is a way for those who see the problem to take ownership of the solution. It is not proposed as the only or the whole solution. It is one part of the puzzle, a people's wedge to coin a phrase. I don't underestimate the challenges. They are dauntingly formidable, yet in many ways exciting. In our efforts, we are constrained only by our will and our imagination.

    Now that the Leo Project is ongoing, I'm looking for another one to get involved in. It would be great to participate in one with you. Let's find something in Austin and go to.

  59. I'm not actually upset about this, but I couldn't pass up that slow pitch: so who's more fixated, the Mac fanboy or the guy who has to shoe-horn a slam on Mac people in completely unrelated conversations? "Heartland? Reminds me of those Mac fanboys... they're in La-La Land!"

    On the topic, though: Paul's project is laudable, and his pride in it certainly not unreasonable: he's doing something, where I myself am closer to being a part of the problem than a part of the solution. And while it's a good example of Kant's categorical imperative put into practice, it does seem to me that it sort of buys into the classic "Al Gore Flies Private Jets And Is Fat" line of argument: in other words, that this is a lifestyle issue, one that can be fixed with enough CF bulbs and Priuses.

    Much as I would like to agree with Paul, it doesn't seem to me that "a number of people desirous of as rapid as possible energy transformation" is sufficient to effect the massive, fundamental societal change that is required to put not only our energy infrastructure but the entire global economy on a path to sustainability.

    Again, there is nothing wrong - and very much right - with fixing plumbing and improving the energy efficiency of high schools and other public buildings. May a thousand Leo High Schools bloom. I just disagree that it's a plausible alternative to recognizing that natural systems have limits. That's where - as Naomi Klein pointed out before this whole foofaraw started - Heartland actually gets it right. We cannot "avert catastrophe by buying 'green' products and creating clever markets in pollution."

    Energy efficiency is absolutely a part of the solution, but Paul does both his project and this discussion a disservice, in my opinion, by mistaking a part for the whole thing.

  60. "You get there because of a constant, relentless flood of innuendo, misinterpretation, calumny, barratry, disingenuousness, cynicism, fallacy, sophistry, and almost every other sort of dishonest argumentation known to humanity, possibly just barely excluding demonstrable lies." Michael, I have been thinking about this post. Is that actually how I got there? I don't think so. Do I even read what Heartland writes, or watch one of their many commercials? I don't know that I ever have.

    I really think that I got where I am by reading what believers in AGW do. Look, I see posts and comments by non-AGW-believers talking about "hoax" and "fraud", and I think, Thousands of scientists involved in a hoax - fat chance. And their lists of hundreds of zillions of scientists, no doubt all with Nobel Prizes, who don't accept AGW... I think, these guys are cut off from reality.

    So you-all start out way ahead.

    But then I come across a comment like this, which I see pretty much on a daily basis: "Question AGW? Anyone who doesn't know that the greenhouse effect is basic physics is a knuckle-dragging moron! You hate science!" I even see it in published columns by well-known pundits.
    Why doesn't everyone speak up and say, "The greenhouse effect is basic physics, but the basis of AGW is the feedbacks which make the sensitivity much higher. It is not basic physics at all, it's based on some pretty complex modeling. Please don't say stuff that makes people think that we don't know science. And please don't sneer or insult people. Lots of folks don't know much science, and sneering at them just makes things worse."
    You know why I don't see that response? Because too many of your people are saying, This guy may be an idiot, but he's our idiot. He's on our side. Go team, go.

    The same with Gleick. He may have broken federal law, he very likely forged a document to fit his narrative - but it's our narrative, so he's our hero. We will assume the best possible of Gleick, and we all know the worst possible of Heartland, and if that leads us to ludicrous theories so be it. That's part of being on a team, you have to be loyal to your players even when they mess up.

    Or Climategate. You know, every time I read about the half-dozen inquiries that "completely exonerated" the people involved in Climategate, it just makes me feel worse. Wasn't it obvious that that the main damage of Climategate was that it showed - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that that group of scientists were On A Team, working together to Defeat The Enemy, block their publications, use inside connections to get their own responses written and published before The Enemy could publish theirs, fight anyone who wanted to look at their data or their computer - if they were from The Enemy? What do I care if that equals academic malfeasance? They are manifestly guilty, of thinking they are in a war and forgetting that scientists need to welcome criticism and that science will take care of bad theories in its own way.

    I read posts and comments by AGW-believers talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in oil money. What happens to all that money, Super Bowl commercials? And how this is just like the fight against tobacco. Whereas it's pretty obvious to me that the skeptics who are really influencing public opinion are mostly amateurs, people like McIntyre and Watts - with a little help from Fox News.

    Please stop. I don't care what Heartland is doing. Given their budget, I doubt it's significant. Please don't glory in having "gotten people to think about them". Go speak there; they aren't a threat to you, you are a threat to yourselves. We don't care about them, we care about you. If you quietly do science, publish results, criticize your own theories, make it easy for others to criticize as well - we will start to trust again that you are doing science and not fighting a war.

    I'm sure you've seen the quote from Megan McArdle, but it captures my feelings very well: "After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you've lost the power to convince them of anything else."

  61. Paul Daniel Ash,

    Assuming you read it before your comment (and you may not have), I hope you understand from my previous comment that my aggregated participation plan is not about individual behavior, but about behavior in the commons. You'd have to show me where anything I've said doesn't recognize that natural systems have limits. Your last sentence indicates you took my words "It is not proposed as the only or the whole solution. It is one part of the puzzle" to mean their exact opposite.

    You should agree because what I'm proposing is a massive, fundamental societal change. If the people desirous are not now sufficient, adding you brings us one person closer to the needed number.

  62. I tend to start off with a lot of cynicism whenever somebody says "I used to believe... but now I see..."; it's a classically manipulative stance. That said, it must be true in some cases.

    There is no doubt that some supporters of science go too far in being rude. There is no doubt that people who support science sometimes make substantive errors - after all, not everybody can be on top of the whole thing. There is no doubt that many doubters come by it honestly.

    But a couple of things need to be addressed here.

    "Why doesn’t everyone speak up and say, “The greenhouse effect is basic physics, but the basis of AGW is the feedbacks which make the sensitivity much higher. It is not basic physics at all, it’s based on some pretty complex modeling. Please don’t say stuff that makes people think that we don’t know science."

    We can't say that because it isn't entirely true. Climate change is more than global mean surface temperature, of course, but predicting the global mean surface temperature from forcings, actually, perhaps surprisingly but actually, turns out to be relatively straightforward. It certainly is not dependent on GCMs ("highly complex models"), and in fact is not primarily informed by them. It's really a problem with few degrees of freedom - primarily we are in a space with three scalar unknowns: the ocean surface response time, the ice and snow response time, and the aerosol response. If we had those, we'd nail the cloud feedbacks for that purpose. That is, any three scalars will determine the fourth. But at present knowledge we have a pretty clear indication that climate change is rapid and accelerating. As Steve Schenider used to point out, you can't keep monkeying with the energy balance and have nothing happen.

    Wasn’t it obvious that that the main damage of Climategate was that it showed – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that that group of scientists were On A Team, working together to Defeat The Enemy, block their publications, use inside connections to get their own responses written and published before The Enemy could publish theirs, fight anyone who wanted to look at their data or their computer – if they were from The Enemy?

    Absolutely not.

    As science converges on an answer, science inconsistent with that answer must attain to very compelling standards. That is normal. The stuff being kept out of the journals is, to anyone with expertise, obviously drivel. You are "begging the question" in the old sense, that is, assuming the answer. If the science is sound, the gadflies and iconoclasts are not, and therefore do not deserve to be published. They turn around by repeating the litanies of crackpots everywhere.

    To the contrary, if the science is corrupt and wrong, the superficial symptoms may be there. But the supposedly "real" scientists would just start other journals and would get citations, and the rest of science would disown the supposedly defective branch. You don't see that happening.

    We will assume the best possible of Gleick, and we all know the worst possible of Heartland, and if that leads us to ludicrous theories so be it.

    The association of Heartland with the most unsavory parts of the plutocracy was merely suspected. The association with tobacco, with pollutants, and with the contemptible Walker regime in Wisconsin are now known. It is the nature of the institution and the networks of influence in which it resides that matters. If Gleick's risk-taking increases public awareness of who Heartland is, and how they and their allies convert money to political influence and skim a little off the top, then it won't have been entirely in vain. If public pressure to tighten up the tax exempt status of advocacy groups increases, especially, it will help.

    As for ludicrous theories, I've seen plenty on both sides, especially about the memo. I encourage more of them, because all talk of Gleick reminds people of Heartland. Perhaps the memo was translated from the Maori?

    If you quietly do science, publish results, criticize your own theories, make it easy for others to criticize as well – we will start to trust again that you are doing science and not fighting a war.

    Scientists have never stopped doing exactly this. However, the emerging results are deeply consequential, and we have amassed unscrupulous enemies. Are you not asking us to roll over and play dead? We have done this for decades, and see where it left us.

    There may in the end be nothing the scientific community can do for itself against this sort of assault.

    Planet3.0 and comparable media efforts may emerge as an independent force defending science. That way you can't blame our stridency on science. In particular, the scientific community as such has been uniform in condemning Gleick's actions and upholding the narrowest interpretation of the rule of law. It's the likes of me that invoke Gandhi and Martin Luther King. You can't blame AGU for that.

    Anyway, it sure seems that there ought to be a way to make half as good a living vigorously standing up for the truth as there is in lying. Gleick is one of the few people I know who's managed it. His method of resignation from such a position is, I continue to maintain, as interesting and thought-provoking as it is astonishing.

  63. Paul Kelly, you made a very bad impression on me when you first showed up.

    The above is quite appealing but I still wonder if there isn't some snake oil you are selling, and whether you just haven;t gotten better at it.

    However, like any of my readers, ally or foe alike, I am open to chatting with you if you are ever in my town or I in yours. And I do find myself in Chicago on occasion.

    All that said, how will small groups of committed people build commuter railroads, for instance, or carbon sequestration facilities? I do not think there is a solution except at scale.

  64. Pingback: In defense of Peter Gleick, Muckraker | Planet3.0

  65. MT,

    Invitation accepted and returned. I think you'd enjoy the Old Town Ale House, a quintessential Chicago bar. I'll be able to respond to your concerns later tonight after old man's basketball.

  66. Gleick came clean immediately. Did the CRU hackers do as much?

    as for "Wasn’t it obvious that that the main damage of Climategate was that it showed – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that that group of scientists were On A Team, working together to Defeat The Enemy, block their publications, use inside connections to get their own responses written and published before The Enemy could publish theirs, fight anyone who wanted to look at their data or their computer – if they were from The Enemy? "

    No, not remotely. Blocking publications that make no sense is part of the job of scientists.

  67. Paul Daniel Ash:

    I'm not actually upset about this, but I couldn't pass up that slow pitch: so who's more fixated, the Mac fanboy or the guy who has to shoe-horn a slam on Mac people in completely unrelated conversations? "Heartland? Reminds me of those Mac fanboys... they’re in La-La Land!"

    Come on, it's a friggin' analogy, dude.

    Anyway, when it comes to being fixated, neither Heartland nor even (say) the International Climate 'Science' Coalition can hold a candle to Paul Kelly. When I come across a comment by Paul Kelly, I can predict with an accuracy approaching 1 that the comment will talk about how We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™.

    Heartland lies? Nah, never mind. We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™.

    There's a huge and organized smear campaign against climate science, and the campaign is based on cow pie? Who cares! Because We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™.

    Amateur 'scientists' tend to get climatology horribly wrong? No sweat! We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™.

    Also, not only is Paul Kelly fixated on the idea that We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™, he's also apparently fixated on spreading this idea in threads which discuss denialist lies and garbage.

    -- frank

  68. MT,

    I am getting better at explaining my ideas; not yet at a professional presentation level but getting there. It's a personal frustration that while I make my living talking to audiences, putting words to paper is for me a torturous process. And it's not surprising that someone who pops up saying you should make a major change in your thinking and actions is greeted with some suspicion and antipathy. I've taken most of your criticisms as constructive. As to snake oil, all I can say is trust is something built over time.

    I'm not sure my ideas apply to things like commuter railroads and carbon capture. It may be worth noting that in Chicago the commuter RR's and the L system were originally financed and built by private interests comprised a relatively small number of people. I think the area that my idea could be most successful is the heating, cooling and electrical needs of buildings, especially community based buildings. It is an area where even a small number of people can make an impact. Each deployment project is a step on a journey of a billion steps, so it is going to take lots and lots of people, millions and millions of people. Cue the John Lennon song.

  69. As far as I am concerned, you popped up saying we should NOT make a major change in thinking and actions, and that a few local conservation efforts would suffice. And whenever anybody asks you to show some arithmetic as to how that could possibly suffice, you change the subject.

  70. That just shows how poorly presented my proposal was at that time. I have to find a way to explain that:
    a) bottom up does not mean staying on the bottom
    b) acting locally does not preclude thinking globally
    c) looking for ways to succeed without reliance on government does not mean there isn't an important role for government
    d) that this is indeed a call to action
    e) energy transformation is a multi-decade multifaceted process; there is no "one grand solution" to it.

    I do shy away from the math. It is really hard for me to get my arms around the enormous amount of money required to get from where we are now to where we want to be in 50 or more years. I do know this. Solar hot water systems start at around $4,000, ground temperature assisted heat pump systems around $7,000 and PV at $10,000. You need 300 - 500 people willing to throw in 10 bucks a month to get started.

  71. It was much cheaper to build urban rail 100 years ago for at least three reasons.

    1) Property rights were weaker compared to collective rights
    2) There wasn't all that much value in the extant property anyway
    3) Construction companies could get away with maiming and killing a few workers here and there

    Whether the change on the first point is or isn't an advance is debatable, but the latter two certainly describe conditions that have improved. But all of them make it much harder to put new infrastructure in place.

    As to the cultural shift you are talking about, I am talking about it too. But part of it will have to, contrary to contemporary American values, involve not only more government but more government at national and global scales. I wish I didn't have to advocate this, because I understand why it makes some people uncomfortable, and it makes me uncomfortable too. I am American enough that I don't like it. But I don't see any alternative.

  72. OK, maybe I should be more explicit.

    I now see Paul Kelly's "We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™" sermon as just another clumsy attempt to divert attention away from the real scandal at hand: namely, Heartland's illegal, immoral shenanigans in trying to sell rich people's propaganda as 'scientific truth', and to rig the very process of policy making itself.

    At the start of this thread, Paul Kelly opined that "Heartland [...] are reveling in the exposure they are getting from the whole affair". But now one can't mention Heartland without also being reminded that they're a bunch of lying liars. So Paul Kelly has to keep finding an excuse to dodge the subject.

    And what better excuse than to use his usual mantra, that We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™?

    Paul Kelly, do you think it's OK for Heartland, a 501c3 group, to lobby for the specific piece of legislation that is Wisconsin Act 10? Do you think it's OK for Heartland to pay Indur Goklany, a federal official, for doing their bidding?

    Some straight answers would be nice, but I think we all know what Paul Kelly's "answers" will be.

    -- frank

  73. Frank,

    As to Heartland and climate science, I have not visited their website, read their publications or attended their conferences. If what they say about climate science is as denialist as you say it is, I would not agree with them. On climate science I pretty much follow WC at stoat, who in turn relies quite a bit on James Annan. Go see what JA has to say about all this.

    If you have any actual evidence of Heartland’s illegal shenanigans, please present them to the proper authorities. I believe the tax code allows 501C3s to advocate for specific policies but not for candidates, but you should consult a tax attorney to find out for sure. I have no idea who Indur Goklany is.

    Yes, I think that Heartland is enjoying the publicity. It probably doesn't bother them that people like you who think they are super evil now think they are super, super evil. They get to play the victim, a supposedly powerful and influential group run on a shoestring budget.

    Now, if you can grasp the difference between not relying on government and eliminating all government involvement, you may begin to see why the people acting in common is a good way to avoid a tragedy of the commons.

  74. AIUI, the accusations regarding Goklany being an executive branch staffer are incorrect. It is nevertheless possible for federal employees to get outside income with permission from their superiors, who might well not have been aware of what the innocuous-sounding "Heartland Institute" really does.

  75. So in other words, when it comes to discussing the Heartland Institute's lying lies and Heartland's illegal, immoral shenanigans, your position boils down to

    I don't know, I don't want to know, I don't care, but I know that We Must Achieve Climate Mitigation Without Gummint Intervention™.

    Also, I don't know anything about the Heartland Institute except that they're run on a shoestring budget.

    Well, yeah. I guess it's a bit hard to have an informed opinion about Heartland when you're trying your hardest to learn absolutely nothing about them, eh?

    -- frank

  76. Paul, all, apologies for the tone of the discussion. Frank is now off the unmoderated list. Steve should take note as well.

    Respectful disagreement is what the web is missing. We're trying to help. If someone can't disagree without being mean or harsh, their stuff will get boreholed.

    That all said, I think that Frank makes a fair point that if you're not especially interested in Heartland you're posting to the wrong thread.

    And if you think they're enjoying the limelight, by all means, tell everyone to consider their role carefully.

    Finally, your: "Now, if you can grasp the difference between not relying on government and eliminating all government involvement, you may begin to see why the people acting in common is a good way to avoid a tragedy of the commons." seems like a walkback of your prior claims, but I would argue that it doesn't go far enough. Changing your lightbulbs is not enough.

    An individual becoming carbon neutral is sacrificing quite a lot but not achieving anything remotely enough.

    If a slave-owner renounced slavery and freed his slaves, he did a good thing. But it wasn't remotely enough, as was well-understood at the time.

  77. Here's what I think about Heartland. They are no great shakes. If they went out of business tomorrow, it wouldn't be a bad thing. However, while their existence and activities may be disagreeable and vexing to some and even if everything they say about climate is wrong, there is no evidence that they have done anything illegal. I do not think their position on climate is immoral, but I wouldn't try to dissuade those who think it is. No matter how horrible Heartland may be, they are the injured party here.

    I'm sure that Gleick believed his actions would expose evil and venality at Heartland, but they did not. What people see is a relatively lightly funded think tank engaged in activities no different from hundreds of think tanks across the broad spectrum of issues and ideologies.

    Trying to make Gleick's jump off the cliff - and I do hope he has a soft landing - about Heartland misses the teachable moment. The whole this is war, ends justify the means mentality is self destructive and won't get us where we want to go. As the sign in my neighbor's front yard says, war is not the answer. That goes for Heartland, too. If the really wanted to make a positive contribution, they'd be better off abandoning the climate wars and try to find free market solutions to the challenge of energy transformation.

  78. I wouldn't want to call it the most deeply perceptive comment but when I put my finger on the pulse of the Heartland/Gleick/fakegate episode, the comment that comes closest to how I see this as having unfolded (NOT to say that it reflects my personal opinion) was at the end of John Callendar's 2/26/12 09:30 contribution:

    “'Hm. These Heartland guys don’t sound so bad. And that climate scientist sounds like a dick,' well, then we’re all screwed."

  79. Thanks, MT. Maybe had I pointed out from the get go to comments made on two threads here (one about mitigation strategy) where there was no mention of government, he'd have slowed down.

    While I don't pay much attention to Heartland, I am paying attention to and trying to learn from this affair, noticing well this post about what should happen because of it. You say say it is time to go ever more valiantly into the breach. I say it is time to study war no more.

    “...the difference between not relying on government and eliminating all government involvement...the people acting in common is a good way to avoid a tragedy of the commons.”

    I have always said, or tried to say, that government has a role, but the people must assert control of the process. I say this not because I hate government, but because government and the political process are not up to the task.

    Look at what has happened here in the last few years. The party of science swept the 2008 election. Progressives controlled the House. The party had a filibuster quashing sixty seats in the Senate. The new President had told everyone that climate was one of his top priorities. Never were conditions so favorable. You can blame whoever for what some have called the President's failure, but it is the nature of the beast. The political process requires majorities. We end our reliance on the political process not because of ideology, but out of necessity.

  80. Yep, Rob, boffin-bashing (egghead-bashing as we would refer to it here, less alliteratively) is a time-honored tradition. People who hang around in bars a lot and listen to Rush Limbaugh (feel free to substitute any of a long list of similar characteristics) while enjoying thinking they know more than those climate scientists because they're, you know, just common-sensical regular folks truly do deserve that circle-of-hell experience that, unfortunately, their children are far more likely to receive.

    Look: People rather desperately want to cling to their material lifestyles. They know, deep down, that the scientists are right but imagine that paying the piper can just be put off a little longer, then a little longer again, and heck doesn't that approach look good when after all they can stick their heads out the window and perceive that there's nothing happening right now today anyway. The long and short of it is that all too many people will continue to act like this, ignoring and mocking scientists to the extent necessary to continue business as usual, until Maxwell's silver hammer comes down on their heads. Then, mark my words, it will be the fault of scientists for being insufficiently clear and persuasive.

    Scientists are human. They have foibles. But even were that not the case, an entirely made up case against the science and scientists would suffice as a basis for continued inaction. There is nothing, nothing, nothing, that scientists can do to fix this, even were they robots rather than human beings.

    So you're a smart guy. You should be smart enough to realize then that the entire problem here, and I mean the *entire* problem unless you really do expect scientists to be automatons, is on the side that's attacking the scientists and the science. Try focusing on that.

  81. Steve, I find your comment to be off target. With respect to the overarching issue, I agree in many ways.

    The discussion is over whether this episode, in its entirety, hurts or helps. Michael thinks it helps. I think it hurts.

    You get nowhere by excusing Gleick's actions, regardless of the details of what he did. Those who support it already were on "your" side. Those who rail against it are already on "their" side and won't be changed either because they're true believers in "they're a bunch of frauds who manipulate data and only want to continue to get rich on grants," they think the science of climatology has been co-opted by a bunch of one world government socialists who want to take wealth from producers and "spread it around," or they're venally muddying the waters in an attempt to carry on BAU for as long as possible.

    It's the middle ground that needs to grasp reality. Insulting them is not going to work and is, in fact, completely counterproductive. Excusing Gleick is in, in my opinion, morally wrong and, more importantly, hurts rather than helps in the eyes of those who are needed.

  82. > excusing Gleick’s actions

    I don't know how Gleick is holding up right now, but I suspect not well. If so, Tobis's writing about the good that has and can come of his actions is needed.

    John Callendar is a find.

  83. Steve, I honestly have no idea what you mean. No snark, I simply don't understand your point. But actually, what's done is done so it's a pretty philosophical discussion unless the question on the table is "is it constructive for those who take the consensus view with respect to CAGW to bring up Gleick/fakegate at every opportunity because it tends to shed unwelcome light on and reduce support for Heartland?" In my opinion, it is not. In my opinion it is best to express regret for Gleick's actions, state that such actions are not supported by the community (if this is, in fact, true) and move on as quickly as possible.

  84. That depends on whether it calls attention to the dishonest nature of the opposition.

    The public and the press systematically understate the risks and the imminence of a commitment to disaster. They also systematically misrepresent the situation as a scientific controversy accompanied by a political controversy. This is not the case.

    While science is not particularly unanimous on the scope of climate disruption, the real spread of informed opinion is masked by a politically motivated and structured opposition with no interest in the balance of evidence.

    The press has adamantly refused to address this asymmetry, because symmetry is the key mission of the press. Who and what the Heartland Institute is and represents is of first order importance, and the press simply lets them get away with it.

    If Gleick's actions get this situation repaired, the utilitarian balance will be on his side.

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