Friday, 15 June 2012

“Fakegate” Climate Scientist Reinstated, Criminal Questions Unanswered

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On June 6, the San Francisco-based Pacific Institute’s board of directors issued a statement welcoming Dr. Peter Gleick back to his position as president of the institute, from which he had stepped down in February, after admitting to identity theft and stealing confidential documents from the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank in Chicago that challenges global-warming alarmism. Dr. Gleick, a prominent environmental activist, was one of the global-warming movement’s rock stars: recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” fellowship; elected to the National Academy of Sciences; named launch chairman of the new Task Force on Scientific Ethics and Integrity of the American Geophysical Union; author, lecturer, a favorite media expert on climate change and scientific ethics. In 2007, ironically, he testified before a U.S. Senate Committee on “Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity: Threats to the Integrity of Science.” 

Integrity. Ethics. Dr. Gleick posed as the great defender of these virtues and regularly issued diatribes accusing skeptics of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming of being vicious and unethical. “Fakegate” showed that Gleick himself was seriously ethically challenged. But, while admitting that his actions in Fakegate constituted a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics,” Gleick’s admission (which amounted to 'fessing up after being caught) may have hidden another, more grievous crime, the fabrication of a false Heartland Institute document and the public dissemination of that document with the intent of discrediting and damaging Heartland. The Pacific Institute board’s statement studiously avoids dealing with the serious matter of the fake Heartland document that was fabricated with documents Gleick had purloined. It also is notably silent regarding Gleick’s possible knowing and direct involvement in the efforts by environmental extremists to harm Heartland financially by targeting its donors identified in the documents Gleick stole.

In his original “confession,” Gleick insisted that he was not the author of the faked Heartland document. “I made no changes or alterations of any kind to any of the Heartland Institute documents or to the original anonymous communication,” he declared. The question, then, is who did? Anthony Watts has once again come to the rescue. This past March, in his award-winning science blog, meteorologist/consultant/blogger/investigator Watts took on the Sherlock Holmesian sleuthing needed to track down the perpetrator of the forged document. For a truly independent forensic analysis of the document, he brought in Dr. Patrick Juola, director of the Evaluating Variations in Language Laboratory at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and a recognized world authority in criminal and civil cases concerning author identity. After analysis, Dr. Juola concluded that Gleick was the likely culprit, noting in his report

The analytic method that correctly and reliably identified twelve of twelve authors in calibration testing also selected Gleick as the author of the disputed document. Having examined these documents and their results, I therefore consider it more likely than not that Gleick is in fact the author/compiler of the document entitled "Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy."

Dr. Juola’s word is not the final verdict on the matter, of course, but his conclusion (especially when combined with other facts known about the fake document and its provenance) is more credible than the “independent review” conducted by the Pacific Institute (PI). For any such review to pass the whitewash smell test, a minimum level of transparency is required. But transparency — another term of art frequently used by Gleick and his global-warming-alarmist collegues — is not part of the PI’s review process. Unlike Dr. Juola’s analysis, which is available for all to see, the PI review is secret. In fact, PI didn’t even reveal who had conducted the review until prodded by Anthony Watts. Then they revealed that the review had been performed by Independent Employment Counsel, LLP, a law firm that, like the Pacific Institute, is based in San Francisco. 

The firm’s web page gives this description of the ambit of their expertise: 

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Independent Employment Counsel, LLP (IEC) performs independent, neutral services (arbitrations, mediations and investigations) in labor and employment matters. Our experience includes cases of all kinds—harassment, discrimination, retaliation, fraud and other workplace misconduct claims. The firm conducts unique seminars including leadership seminars, training related to employment law obligations and unlawful harassment training but using a broader thoughtful platform. The firm provides advice and expert testimony concerning workplace investigations. IEC’s services are provided by Cynthia E. Maxwell and Gary Scholick, who between them possess more than fifty years of experience as employment and labor law attorneys. They are intimately familiar with the daily challenges of managing, supervising and working in the twenty-first century workplace. 

Maxwell and Scholick are two lawyers who deal in employment and labor law. There is no evidence that they have any forensic experience or that they utilized any forensic experts. No evidence is provided that they or anyone at PI even questioned Gleick about the forged document. If they are prepared to take his word for it that he did not himself forge it, then, did they consider asking him if he knew who did do it, and did he collude with them or counsel them? Did they ask him if he knew who used the stolen documents to harass and intimidate Heartland’s donors, and did he collude with them or counsel them in those acts? 

Those are questions we wanted to ask the members of the Pacific Institute’s board of directors, which had so readily accepted Gleick’s weak apology for his “lapse” of judgment and ethics, and his rationalization for it — that he had been driven to it out of desperation caused by Heartland’s efforts to undermine the “consensus” version of climate science. We contacted the Pacific Institute media spokespersons Nancy Ross and Paula Luu five times between June 11 and June 14 seeking answers to questions concerning its “independent review” and the forged document. Our calls were not returned.

The individual PI board members we attempted to contact also did not respond to our calls or e-mails. These included Peter Boyer, trustee of the Ayrshire Foundation in Pasadena, California; Gigi Coe, of the Trust for Conservation Innovation in San Francisco; Joan Diamond, chairperson of The Nautilus Institute in San Francisco; Richard Morrison of The Trust for Public Land, San Francisco; Michael Watts, Geography Department, University of California, Berkeley.

On June 14, Pacific Institute media spokesperson Elena Schmid returned our second call that day to Paula Luu, but she had virtually nothing to add to the “welcome back” statement from the board. We asked, for instance, whether the board’s decision had been unanimous, or if any board members had opposed Gleick’s continued presidency of the institute, or if any had resigned as a result of it. “I can’t tell you that,” Schmid said, “because all of that was carried out by the board in executive session and it’s a closed personnel matter.”

There appears to be no public statement by any member of the board taking issue with the board’s decision to welcome Gleick back as president, and no indication that even a single board member resigned in protest. This is not surprising, inasmuch as what appears to be a large portion of the environmental crusader movement has adopted a moral philosophy that condones (or even encourages) “whatever it takes” to achieve its exalted goals.  Although some prominent climate activists lamented Gleick’s criminal actions because it would set back the global-warming political agenda, and a few even condemned his actions as immoral, many others defended his actions as justified, and some even said his illegal and immoral course of action should be more widely adopted, because of the seriousness of the existential global crisis posed by global warming. (See our reports here and here.)

The Chicago-based Heartland Institute wasted no time in denouncing the Pacific Institute’s review of the Gleick “lapse” as a whitewash. “Fakegate — which began when a fake memo was circulated to defame the world’s most prominent source of skepticism on man-made global warming — has now generated a fake investigation claiming to exonerate the person at the center of the scandal,” Heartland President Joseph Bast said in a statement released on June 7.  “Whereas The Heartland Institute has been open and honest with the public and the press, sharing emails and the results of its own internal investigations, the Pacific Institute has refused to identify who conducted its investigation, to release its report, or even to respond to our inquiries about what questions were asked of Gleick,” Bast continued.

“As near as we can tell,” declared Bast, “this was not an investigation. It was a whitewash. The Pacific Institute’s board of directors has failed to perform its duty and should be deeply ashamed. We have asked the federal government to prosecute Gleick for what we believe were serious crimes he committed, and we await its decision.”

This would not be the first whitewash of scandals involving the leading lights of climate alarmism. The Climategate e-mail scandal of 2009 caused several official “investigations” to be launched, which turned out to be whitewashes conducted by officials who were global-warming activists themselves or public sympathizers with the climate scientists they were charged with investigating. 

Dr. Gleick’s self-inflicted fall from grace involves criminal acts that would have ended the careers of many lesser gods, but Gleick enjoys the benefit of protective armor that comes with being a celebrity activist in a movement with powerful political allies and media sympathizers who will not let his “indiscretions” get in the way of the further service he may be able to provide in pushing forward the global green agenda.

Pacific Institute: On to Rio+20

According to the Pacific Institute’s Elena Schmid, Peter Gleick will not be going to Rio+20, the United Nations Earth Summit now getting underway in Rio de Janeiro. However, the institute will be represented there.  In preparation for the summit, PI released a new report produced by PI and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), entitled, Water as a Casualty of Conflict: Threats to Business and Society in High-Risk Areas

The United Nations Global Compact is a cobbling together of corporatist one-worlders NGO environmentalists and UN bureaucrats to achieve “global governance” on environmental issues. Corporate heavyweights on the UNGC board of directors include Charles O. Holliday, chairman of the board of Bank of America; Samuel di Piazza vice chair of Institutional Clients Group at Citigroup; Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, director of HSBC Holdings PLC and Saudi Aramco, and former chairman of Anglo American PLC, as well as former chairman of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies; Toshio Arima, director and executive advisor to the Board of Fuji Xerox; Kurt W. Bock, chairman of the board of BASF; Paul Polman, chief executive officer, Unilever; Fu Chengyu, chairman, Sinopec Group, (China’s Communist Party-controlled oil giant).

The Pacific Institute/UNGC water report will be officially introduced at the “Responsible Water Management Practices in Conflict Affected & High-Risk Areas” session at the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, on June 18.

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