Do Not Take Your Eyes Off Lex Luthor (Heartland Institute)
Just as scientists view the entire body of evidence to support a conclusion, I think we should all judge an individual by the entire body of his accomplishments and not by his one regrettable mistake. Who among us has not made mistakes? By focusing on Dr. Peter Gleick’s mistake, we are not only being unfair to this man but we are taking our eye off the issue that we should all be focused on: Heartland Institute is threatening the education and future of our children!
Read on to see why Peter should be congratulated for his academic achievement and tireless communication efforts to benefit society and why Heartland Institute’s actions should make you angry.
According to the Pacific Institute website:
“Dr. Peter H. Gleick is co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California. His research and writing address the critical connections between water and human health, the hydrologic impacts of climate change, sustainable water use, privatization and globalization, and international conflicts over water resources.
Dr. Gleick is an internationally recognized water expert and was named a MacArthur Fellow in October 2003 for his work. In 2001, Gleick was dubbed a “visionary on the environment” by the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 1999, Gleick was elected an Academician of the International Water Academy, in Oslo, Norway and in 2006, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
Gleick received a B.S. from Yale University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He serves on the boards of numerous journals and organizations, and is the author of many scientific papers and seven books, including the biennial water report, The World’s Water, and the new Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.”
In 2011, Peter received the Ven Te Chow Award from the International Water Resources association. The Ven Te Chow Memorial Award and Lecture is one of the most prestigious awards of the IWRA, named in honor of founder Prof. Ven Te Chow (1919-1981), the eminent water scientist who was a leading figure in water resources in the second half of the 20th Century.
In 2008, Wired Magazine named Peter as “one of 15 People the Next President Should Listen To” in their 2008 Smart List.
Some examples of his public and professional service: (a huge list can be viewed here)
• National Academy of Sciences Committee on Himalayan Glaciers, Hydrology, Climate Change and Water Security, 2011-
• Chair, American Geophysical Union Task Team on Scientific Ethics, 2011-
• National Academy of Sciences Committee on Climate, Energy, and National Security, 2009-
• Singapore Institute of Water Policy’s International Advisory Panel, 2010-2012• Expert Group on Policy Relevance of the World Water Assessment Program, United Nations, 2008-
• Climate Advisory Group of the California Academy of Sciences, 2007-2008
• State of California Climate Change Technical Advisory Group, 2007-2009
• World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Water Security, 2008-2010
• Member of AAAS Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences Section (Section W): February 2007-2011.
• National Academy of Sciences Committee on Ecological Impacts of Climate Change, 2008-2009
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Human Impacts of Climate Change Advisory Committee, 2007-2009.
• National Academy of Sciences Committee on Advancing Desalination Technology, 2006-2008
Peter has written ten books about the water crisis and what society can do to solve it. His latest book (in preparation) is titled United States Water Policy for the 21st Century to be published by Oxford University Press.
Peter has been an author on 133 peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, book chapters, and proceedings.
Peter has testified before 32 Congressional and Legislative bodies. His most recent was a May 9, 2011 briefing on Capitol Hill titled “The Vulnerability of U.S. Water Resources to Climate Change.”
Peter has authored 58 op-eds, commentaries, book reviews, editorials, and letters to the editor as a means to educate the average citizen about climate change and water security.
Peter was also willing to step into the lion’s den to communicate science to the general public. By that I mean asking to be a blogger at Forbes.com. Forbes and Wall Street Journal are still hold-outs when it comes to accepting well-understood science. Peter knew most of his blogs would be received with inflammatory comments but he still hoped that he might be able to reach the fence-sitters among the readership.
Peter was passionate about defending climate science and its scientists who have taken a beating by Heartland Institutes and others who, for political or financial reasons, find well-established human-causes warming to be inconvenient. It was becoming increasingly clear to Peter that the misinformation was steering this country down a dangerous path. This frustration was apparent in his 2010 and 2011 Climate B.S. of the Year Awards (BS means Bad Science).
Many of us are very frustrated. Last week Nina Fedoroff, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), confessed that she was now “scared to death” by the anti-science movement that was spreading, uncontrolled, across the US and the rest of the western world.
“We are sliding back into a dark era,” she said. “And there seems little we can do about it. I am profoundly depressed at just how difficult it has become merely to get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms.”
It is because of groups like Heartland Institute that we are being led astray. Unfortunately, Peter made a mistake in his attempt to expose the nefarious ways of Heartland. He was man enough to admit it and there have been consequences. (Of course, the person who released thousands of emails in 2009 still has not come forward to admit his guilt. The bad guys are never honorable.)
Scientists are held to a very high standard so when one of them does make a mistake it is deemed newsworthy. Worse, if there is even a suggestion of wrongdoing, there is overwhelming attention. For example, an analysis of news/web coverage of the accusations against vs. exonerations of the climate scientists involved in the 2009 stolen email controversy, showed that coverage of the accusations dwarfed coverage of the multiple exonerations.
We should all be focused on the real story here:
Heartland Institute is threatening the education and future of our children!
As I have written about in the previous two blog posts (Hey Kids, Have a Smoke and Denial and Heartland Serves Threatening Letters, Climate Science Legal Defense Fund & PEER Hit Back), Heartland Institute has a history of undermining science education and supporting the Big Tobacco industry that was caught trying to get our kids to smoke.
Heartland Institute’s President 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.
As described in the Joe Camel Wiki page, [emphasis mine]
Internal documents produced to the court in Mangini v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, San Francisco Superior Court No. 959516, demonstrated the industry’s interest in targeting children as future smokers. The importance of the youth market was illustrated in a 1974 presentation by RJR’s Vice-President of Marketing who explained that the “young adult market . . . represent[s] tomorrow’s cigarette business. As this 14-24 age group matures, they will account for a key share of the total cigarette volume – for at least the next 25 years.” A 1974 memo by the R. J. Reynolds Research Department points out that capturing the young adult market is vital because “virtually all [smokers] start by the age of 25″ and “most smokers begin smoking regularly and select a usual brand at or before the age of 18.”
The NY Times, LA Times and many others criticized Heartland’s inept plan to hire David Wojick to create an alternate-reality K-12 climate science curriculum. But Heartland’s school ground attack on science is nothing new, as is evident in the organization’s own commentary: “Heartland has tried to make material available to teachers, but has had only limited success. Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.”
One of the best known Heartland incursions into the schoolyard occurred in 2008, when the institute mailed teaching materials to 11,250 schools in Canada. In 2009, Science derided Heartland for sending copies of The Skeptic’s Handbook to 14,000 US school board officials. Heartland’s Environment and Climate News mocked one school board president for his refusal to use it.
But Heartland began its classroom misinformation campaign much earlier. During 2002-2003, E&CN ran ads exhorting readers to “discuss an E&CN article with your school-age child… and his or her teacher.” I hope parents avoided the common “Smoker’s Lounge” ads in those issues.
Telling school children to read a newsletter that promotes smoking and undermines science!
Dr. Peter Gleick is a great man for all that he has done to advance the issues surrounding climate change and water resources. Do not judge him solely on his one mistake. If you do, Heartland Institute, and those that are jeopardizing our children’s education and the safety of their future, will win the PR battle that is preventing us from actions that will not only protect our health and national security, but will move America aheadin the race to win the next great technology revolution that is clean, renewable energy.
Stop looking at a little dirt on Superman’s cape, lest we lose sight of Lex Luthor.
Update (02/24): Dr. Judith Curry and I speak on KPCC Radio (NPR) about Peter Gleick and Heartland. We did not agree.
Update (02/24): All of you out there with children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Picture them in your head right now. What would you do to stop an organization that you knew was sabotaging these children’s education and whose membership supports companies that were caught red-handed trying to hook them on deadly cigarettes?
I bet that posing as a board member to verify insider documents is mild compared to what you were just willing to do in your head. Right?
Update (02/24): Video targeted at Heartland Institute:
Richard Littlemore, Whistleblower Authenticates Heartland Documents, DeSmog Blog
Stephan Lewandowsky, The Morality of Unmasking Heartland, The Conversation
Michael Tobis, Peter Gleick is Still a Good Scientist, Planet 3.0
That Genius stuff was always a distraction, On the Public Record
Michael Tobis, Ethical considerations regarding Heartland/Gleick, Planet 3.0
George Monbiot, Anything to declare, Mr Booker? We need transparency about Heartland, The Guardian
Mark Fischetti, The Peter Gleick Incident: All Heat and No Light, Scientific American
Lee Fang, NYTimes’ Michael Roston Compares Scientist Involved In Heartland Institute Document Leak To James O’Keefe, Republic Report (bad title, great article!)
Michael Tobis, What a shiny penny!, Planet 3.0
James Garvey, Peter Gleick lied, but was it justified by the wider good?, The Guardian
Richard Littlemore, Heartland Double Standard: Institute Tried to Scam Greenpeace for Internal Documents, DeSmog Blog