Global Warming Slapfight: NYTimes's Andrew Revkin Takes on Far-Left Climate Activists

February 23rd, 2012 7:16 PM

Andrew Revkin, former New York Times environmental reporter who now blogs at Dot Earth on, is in a spat with fellow global warming believers, over fraud committed by environmental ideologue Peter Gleick against the Heartland Institute, a skeptical group.

Revkin’s initial coverage of the documents stolen from Heartland -- tax forms and donor lists, along with a “climate strategy” memo now known to be a fake -- was called out for hypocrisy by Times Watch for showing no moral disapproval over the theft.

But Revkin took no prisoners in excoriating Gleick’s behavior on Monday, after Gleick, a climate analyst at the Pacific Institute, confessed to having obtained the documents by using a false identity (though Revkin had backtracked somewhat by Wednesday):

Peter H. Gleick, a water and climate analyst who has been studying aspects of global warming for more than two decades, in recent years became an aggressive critic of organizations and individuals casting doubt on the seriousness of greenhouse-driven climate change. He used blogs, congressional testimony, group letters and other means to make his case.

Now, Gleick has admitted to an act that leaves his reputation in ruins and threatens to undercut the cause he spent so much time pursuing. His summary, just published on his blog at Huffington Post, speaks for itself.

Part of Gleick’s confession from the Huffington Post:

At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.

Given the potential impact however, 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 and professional judgment and ethics, I solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else’s name....

Megan McArdle at the Atlantic questioned Gleick’s claim that he received the “anonymous document” (a two-page strategy memo, allegedly from the Heartland Institute, that everyone now agrees is a fake), asking: “How did his correspondent manage to send him a memo which was so neatly corroborated by the documents he managed to phish from Heartland?”

Left-wing climate bloggers, especially the intolerant Joseph Romm, were furious at Revkin’s criticism of Gleick and tried to dismantle Revkin’s journalistic reputation. Revkin responded Wednesday:

Here’s a short followup on the sad saga of Peter Gleick, the water and climate analyst who admitted using a false identity to obtain files that provided a detailed picture of the finances and plans of the anti-regulatory Heartland Institute.

First, I will not retract the post I wrote on Gleick’s confession, as demanded by climate campaigner Joe Romm in a piece yesterday on Heartland, Gleick and me. You can read his long screed or simply read this distillation from a post by David Appell on Quark Soup:

They’re worse (meaning Heartland) ~1500 words
Gleick was wrong: 27 words
Journalist scum! ~1000 words

I’ve known Gleick as a source and acquaintance since I first quoted him in 1988, which made it very hard to write the piece on Monday. I will acknowledge that certain phrases, written in haste, were overstated. Gleick’s reputation and credibility are seriously damaged, not necessarily in ruins or destroyed.

Nonetheless, the real-world ramifications of his actions are already playing out in his withdrawal from the board of the National Center for Science Education and his withdrawal last week from the chairmanship of the the American Geophysical Union task force on scientific ethics...