The theft (and possible forgery) of private documents from the conservative Heartland Institute seems poised to backfire on the Leftists, environmentalists and Huffington Post pundits — but I repeat myself — who’ve frantically been trying to turn this into something akin to Climategate, thanks in no small part to the deft detective work of Colorado’s Ross Kaminsky (AKA “Rossputin”). This case becomes curiouser and curiouser with each passing day.
It seems that a prominent green-leaning writer, Peter Gleick, stole the Heartland documents, which contained no really shocking revelations but nonetheless generated a predictable orgy of indignation among eco-Inquisitors, just as Gleick hoped they would. Whether Gleick is also guilty of counterfeiting, forgery and fraud (and whether Heartland will press criminal charges) remains to be seen. But given the arrogant, self-righteous, ends-justify-the-means attitude that permeates the environmental movement, it wouldn’t be surprising if Gleick went beyond just theft, and stooped to fraud, in trying to turn some otherwise-unremarkable documents into something designed to scandalize the Left and discredit an effective foil for the alarmist camp.
After falling under suspicion as one possible source of the stolen materials, Gleick copped to the theft in a Huffington Post mea culpa. But at least one of the documents dumped on the media – the document that reverberated loudest through the liberal echo chamber — has the smell of a forgery, suggesting that Gleick may have more splainin’ to do (as Ricky Ricardo would say).
Gleick isn’t some fly-by-night blogger trying to make a name for himself. He’s a prominent, widely-respected cog in the Big Green Machine, who can’t simply fade back into the woodwork now that the scandal he tried to orchestrate is backfiring on him. He’ll have his share of knee-jerk apologists, who, like this idiot (publishing in Forbes of all places!), will try to turn him into a hero and martyr to the cause. But a black eye for Gleick will also be a black eye for Big Green. What began as a mere flap, as another skirmish in the continuing climate wars that regular folk could easily ignore, thus has potential to become something much more significant. And that’s particularly true if Heartland presses criminal charges.
Attempting to turn the leaked memos into Heartland-Gate, into something comparable to Climategate, in which the internal emails of scheming, data-fudging climate researchers spilled out into the open, misses a critical point. Everyone knows Heartland is a think tank that takes a more skeptical position on the root causes of climate change. That like-minded individuals, corporations or foundations would fund its activities should surprise or scandalize no one; it’s not the least bit scandalous or improper, except in the view of those who want to stifle all dissent on the climate issue. And I, as someone who works for another group that refuses to be stampeded into the alarmist camp, see absolutely nothing untoward, and much to admire, in Heartland’s work. What Climategate revealed were highly-credentialed, supposedly-objective, incredibly- influential researchers scheming behind the scenes to spin the climate change debate their way. Which of the two situations is truly scandalous?
Gleick admits to stealing the documents. That’s a crime. And he may very well be a forger, which we may not be able to prove, conclusively, unless he either fesses-up or Heartland presses charges and a criminal investigation links Gleick to the suspected forgery. I’m hoping Heartland presses charges. It would be great fun to see the tables suddenly turned on those who, only a few days ago, were in full panting pursuit of evil “deniers” at Heartland, intent on destroying the credibility and reputation of a group with which the hounds disagree. A criminal case and trail might expose more than just Gleick, by shining an uncomfortable light on the network of media people and pundits who helped him, even if inadvertently, perpetrate a fraud. All the shaming, gloating and anti-”denier” finger-pointing of the last few days can suddenly be seen in a much different light. Who’s credibility and integrity are in question now?
Greens preen as morally superior because anyone who doesn’t join the crusade to “save the planet” must necessarily be a corrupt, morally-bankrupt scoundrel. The goal of “saving the planet” is of such vital importance that unsavory, unethical and even illegal methods can be justified in pursuit of that end. This arrogance is enabled by a green-leaning media that gives the movement a pass on its unscrupulous, autocratic, monkey-wrenching tendencies, apparently because so many journalists are sympathetic with the cause.
Most reporters don’t yet recognize that environmentalism has become an institution, a lobby, a religion, an “industry” that like all such institutions has agendas, interests and motives that require independent watch-dogging. Perhaps this episode, following on the heals of The Sierra Club scandal, will help peel away another layer of warm-and-fuzzy, feel-good veneer from Institutional Environmentalism, forcing fellow-travelers in the media (some of whom may feel like they were played for suckers by Gleick) to take a harder second look at what they’re really dealing with here.