Year 3, Month 3, Day 10: (Facepalm)

Meet a denialist clod at the North County Times (“serving North San Diego and SW Riverside Counties” — CA), named Steven Greenhut. He mouths off about Gleick, and about climate scientists in general:

When it comes to global warming, the ends apparently justify the means. People from all political persuasions do stupid things to advance their cause, but what bothers me most are respectable people who justify behavior they would never tolerate from their foes. That type of ideological fanaticism is corrosive of our democratic society.

It’s easy to chide the hypocrisy of Gleick. He had been the chairman of an ethics committee for a scientific association. His column blasting dishonesty still sits on his institute’s website. It’s harder to explain away his deceit as a mere aberration in the climate-change drama.

In the “Climategate” scandal in 2009, “Hundreds of private email messages and documents hacked from a computer server at a British university are causing a stir among global warming skeptics, who say they show that climate scientists conspired to overstate the case for a human influence on climate change,” according to a New York Times report from the time.

The emails showed that the scientific community is so invested in this climate-change ideology for financial and ideological reasons that it would rather cook the numbers than level with the public about the reality of the threat. A follow-up release of emails in 2011 provided even more evidence supporting skeptics’ claims.

Blah, blah, blah.

The whole thing could have been written by a robot, and probably was. But my response was written by a human, and mailed on March 4:

Let’s stipulate in advance that Dr. Peter Gleick shouldn’t have impersonated a staffer at the Heartland Institute in order to authenticate some documents purportedly originating at the secretive right-wing think tank. But the arguments Mr. Greenhut builds on this fact are specious, and reveal that he has swallowed the denialist message — hook, line and sinker.

For example, he cites the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia without noting that multiple separate investigations cleared the scientists involved of any improprieties. Mr. Greenhut cites “a New York Times report at the time,” but ignores the paper’s subsequent coverage acknowledging that “climategate” was a “manufactured controversy” (editorial, July 10, 2010).

The Heartland Institute documents revealed a carefully crafted agenda for undermining science education in America. Under the guise of “teaching the controversy,” Heartland planned to supply curricula which covered climate science inaccurately, in a way consistent with the profit-driven motives of the Institute’s funders. It’s analogous to a tobacco company funding health and fitness curricula downplaying the link between cigarettes and cancer.

Whether retail or wholesale, lies have no place in science. But those on the denialist side of the climate change argument have far more to answer for than Peter Gleick.

Warren Senders

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