Climate Gleick-Out Update: Plot Thickens

In my article about the Peter Gleick affair coming out tonight or early tomorrow morning in the next issue of The Weekly Standard, I note that “the Heartland Institute has always extended invitations to the leading ‘mainstream’ figures to speak or debate at the [annual Heartland climate change] conference, including Al Gore, NASA’s James Hansen, and senior officials from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (Heartland typically receives no response from such figures.)”

It turns out that one of the “mainstream” figures that Heartland has invited to debate is . . . Peter Gleick!  Quite recently in fact.  Which only adds to the mountain of circumstance explaining why Gleick gave into his jonesing for a fix of Heartland’s proprietary information in late January.  Gleick has been sharing pixels with Heartland’s James Taylor on Forbes.com, where they have traded fusillades over climate issues.  It would seem it drove Gleick insane.

Here’s the email thread back and forth between Heartland’s communications director and Gleick:

At 11:12 AM 1/13/2012, Jim Lakely wrote:

Dr. Gleick,

I’ve enjoyed the lively discussion via dueling Forbes.com columns and replies between you and James Taylor.

The Heartland Institute is in the early planning stages for our 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner later this year. We usually have a keynote speaker or debate for the “entertainment” portion of the event, and I was wondering if you’d be willing to come to Chicago to debate James Taylor. We’d donate $5,000 to the charity of your choice in lieu of an honoraria.

I think such a debate would be enlightening, and a lot of fun. Folks at Heartland don’t bite, and treat those with whom we disagree with respect. (You can ask Scott Denning at Colorado State University about how he was treated at our last two climate conferences, or <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkL6TDIaCVw>go here to view his words of thanks at our 4th conference.)

Let me know if this offer is appealing to you, and if it might fit your schedule. (Our dinner is tentatively scheduled for the second week of August.)

Regards,

Jim Lakely, Communications Director, The Heartland Institute

Note that Heartland offered, in lieu of a speaking fee, a donation to the charity of Gleick’s choice.  Here was a chance to take “right wing” money and give it to the Sierra Club if Gleick had wished.  It took Gleick three days to write back.  Notice what’s on his mind:

From: Peter H. Gleick

Sent: Monday, January 16, 2012 1:39 PM

To: Jim Lakely; James Taylor

Subject: Re: Debate Invitation

Dear Mr. Lakely,

Thank you for your email of January 13th, 2012, inviting me to participate in the Heartland Institute’s 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner.

In order for me to consider this invitation, please let me know if the Heartland Institute publishes its financial records and donors for the public and where to find this information. Such transparency is important to me when I am offered a speaking fee (or in this case, a comparable donation to a charity). My own institution puts this information on our website.

Also, I would like a little more information about the date, venue, and expected audience and format. In addition, I assume your offer includes all travel and hotel expenses, economy class, but can you please confirm this?

Sincerely,

Dr. Peter Gleick

 

At 03:25 PM 1/17/2012, Jim Lakely wrote:

Peter,

Thanks for your reply. Travel and lodging expenses would be covered by Heartland. Our annual dinner is tentatively set for August. This would be a moderated debate, though details about the question on the table, the time for each side, etc., is yet to be determined.

I will get back to you on your other questions. But I’m sure you’ve seen James M. Taylor’s response to the funding questions at Forbes.com – a question he has answered publicly many times. In short: We used to publicly list our donors by name, but stopped a few years ago, in part, because people who disagree with The Heartland Institute decided to harass our donors in person and via email.

More donor information from our Web site:

Diverse funding base: Heartland has grown slowly over the years by cultivating a diverse base of donors who share its mission. Today it has approximately 2,000 supporters. In 2010 it received 48 percent of its income from foundations, 34 percent from corporations, and 14 percent from individuals. No corporate donor gave more than 5 percent of its annual budget.

Also from our Web site:

Policies regarding donors: The Heartland Institute enforces http://heartland.org/PDFs/DonorPolicies.pdf policies that limit the role donors may play in the selection of research topics, peer review, and publication plans of the organization. Heartland does not conduct contract research. These policies ensure that no Heartland researcher or spokesperson is subject to undue pressure from a donor.

And more donor policy/information from our Web site:

Q: Why doesn’t Heartland reveal the identities of its donors?

A: For many years, we provided a complete list of Heartland’s corporate and foundation donors on this Web site and challenged other think tanks and advocacy groups to do the same. To our knowledge, not a single group followed our lead.

After much deliberation and with some regret, we now keep confidential the identities of all our donors for the following reasons:

• People who disagree with our views have taken to selectively disclosing names of donors who they think are unpopular in order to avoid addressing the merits of our positions. Listing our donors makes this unfair and misleading tactic possible. By not disclosing our donors, we keep the focus on the issue.

• We have procedures in place that protect our writers and editors from undue influence by donors. This makes the identities of our donors irrelevant.

• We frequently take positions at odds with those of the individuals and companies who fund us, so it is unfair to them as well as to us to mention their funding when expressing our point of view.

• No corporate donor gives more than 5 percent of our budget, and most give far less than that. We have a diverse funding base that is too large to accurately summarize each time we issue a statement. And, as you know, we are under no legal obligation to release a detailed list of our donors – nor is any other non-profit organization. Our 990 forms are in full compliance with the IRS.

More here: http://heartland.org/reply-to-critics>http://heartland.org/reply-to-critics

Regards,

Jim Lakely

It took Gleick 10 days to reply to this email from Lakely, during which time we now know Gleick was serially deceiving Heartland into sending its board materials to him by email.  Hence his reply declining the invitation is especially disingenuous:

From: Peter H. Gleick

Sent: Fri 1/27/2012 9:33 AM

To: Jim Lakely

Subject: RE: Debate Invitation

Dear Mr. Lakely,

After reviewing your email and after serious consideration, I must decline your invitation to participate in the August fundraising event for the Heartland Institute.

I think the seriousness of the threat of climate change is too important to be considered the “entertainment portion of the event” as you describe it, for the amusement of your donors. Perhaps more importantly, the lack of transparency about the financial support for the

Heartland Institute is at odds with my belief in transparency, especially when your Institute and its donors benefit from major tax breaks at the expense of the public.

Thank you for considering me.

Dr. Peter Gleick

A comment here about Gleick’s tender concern for “transparency.”  As we know from the authentic Heartland documents, Heartland received substantial contributions from one anonymous donor.  It happens that the Environmental Defense Fund in a recent report thanks 141 anonymous donors for their support.  Recently the Sierra Club was exposed for having taken $26 million in anonymous support (until it leaked) from Chesapeake Energy, a fossil fuel company.  There are many other examples of anonymous donations to environmental and other lefty groups.  No record of a complaint from Gleick about the “lack of transparency” from these groups.  On the other hand, as John reported here recently, the Koch brothers routinely receive death threats from their transparency.

Lakely politely responded:

Dr. Gleick,

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve declined our invitation, but I am thankful that you gave it serious consideration. If you’d ever like to engage in a public debate with a Heartland scholar on the topic of climate change, our door is always open.

As for the “entertainment” bit … I think you misunderstand. That word was not intended to make frivolous what Heartland does — in general, or certainly at our annual benefit dinner. We’re a think tank. We love debate, and thrive on intellectual back-and-forth. To me, and our supporters, such a stimulating discussion IS ALSO entertaining. Learning should ever be so.

Regardless, the invitation to our benefit dinner is open. We’ll happily comp you two tickets if you’d like to come to one of the world’s greatest cities for a day of leisure and an evening with Heartland’s scholars, staffers and supporters.

Warm regards,

Jim Lakely

Finally, as if things couldn’t get any worse for Gleick and his fellow climateers, it appears the EPA is hastily scrubbing its website of any trace of the $468,000 in grants it awarded to Gleick.  Of course, that kind of money is perfectly innocent, since the EPA has no agenda of its own.

Responses