Bay Area Scientist Owns up to Lying to Get Heartland Documents

The Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick says he was blinded by frustration when he used subterfuge to obtain and leak the internal documents

Earlier this month, documents were allegedly leaked from the Heartland Institute — a think tank that questions human-caused climate change — which describe elements of the organization’s strategy to discredit climate science, and include background on funders. Now climate scientist Peter Gleick, the founder of the Pacific Institute, has admitted to using deception to obtain the information.

On his blog on the Huffington Post, Gleick said he first received a document about Heartland from an anonymous source. He goes on to describe how he received additional information:

I attempted to confirm the accuracy of the information in this document. In an effort to do so, and in a serious lapse of my own professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name. The materials the Heartland Institute sent to me confirmed many of the facts in the original document, including especially their 2012 fundraising strategy and budget.

Gleick has been a source for Climate Watch and for KQED News. In the past, he’s spoken out against tactics to discredit climate science that he said were politically motivated.

When the documents were first released, Heartland Institute threatened to pursue legal action against bloggers who published them. In a statement on its website responding to Gleick’s confession, Heartland says it’s consulting with legal counsel to decide on next steps.

We’ll continue following this story as it develops, here on the blog and on KQED News.

Bay Area Scientist Owns up to Lying to Get Heartland Documents 1 February,2018Molly Samuel

4 thoughts on “Bay Area Scientist Owns up to Lying to Get Heartland Documents”

  1.  Maybe Dr. Gleick needs whistleblower  protections.  I would put his action in the same category as that of Daniel Ellsberg.

  2. Gleick is a liar-self admitted, and ALL the  “research” which comes from his solely owned “Pacific Institute” is suspect, ad cannot and should not be trusted.  This is what happens when you lie, you cannot be trusted.

    1. To be accurate, Oakland’s Pacific Institute (not to be confused with the Seattle-based organization) is a registered non-profit organization. The Institute’s audited financial statements for 2010 include a diverse list of funders, from government agencies to major private foundations.
      As a personal aside, I have interviewed several analysts at the Institute on various topics. In my view they are smart, conscientious people working on critical topics, such as California’s water future. It would be wrong to impugn their output because of the intemperate actions of their boss.

      1. Really?  Who’s name appears on the cover of the reports issued by the Institute — Peter Gleick.  A few years ago I discovered he truncated sea level data that did not fit his global warming theory. Why did this great staff not bring this to his attention? 

Comments are closed.


Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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