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February 23, 2012

What "gate?" The Heartland Institute Strategy Documents Leaked

If you’re someone who is titillated by political intrigue and care about the environment, you may have noticed some exciting headlines lately! A reverse ‘climategate’ has recently taken place—with secret internal documents from The Heartland Institute (a not-for-profit thinktank which promotes an anti-climate change agenda) being made public. If you haven’t heard, here’s a quick summary to catch you up. You can also view a timeline of related news articles here.

The Players

The Heartland Institute is ostensibly a not-for-profit organization which aims to promote ‘free-market solutions to social and economic problems.’ It has a checkered past, including working with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question the science linking secondhand smoke to health risks, and to lobby against government public health reforms. It is a member of the ‘Cooler Heads Coalition,’ a group with the mission of "dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis".

Peter H. Gleick is a scientist who co-founded the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security. He’s most well-known for his work onincreasing human access to safe water, and climate change. Gleick made public confidential Heartland Institute documents obtained using a false name.

DeSmogBlog. A blog focusing on climate change, especially featuring articles about global warming misinformation campaigns by industry and political forces. The blog first broke the story and made the documents available online.

Timeline of Events

  • February 14th, 2012
DeSmogBlog editor, Richard Littlemore, posted an article entitled ‘Heartland Insider Exposes Institute's Budget and Strategy’ stating an anonymous source had provided him with “the Heartland Institute's budget, fundraising plan, its Climate Strategy for 2012 and sundry other documents (all attached) that prove all of the worst allegations that have been leveled against the organization” and attached said documents to post.

  • February 15th,  2012
The Heartland Institute confirms it mistakenly leaked documents, but claims one, the Climate Strategy Memo detailing pushing anti-climate change curriculum in schools, was a fake.

  • February 17th, 2012
Scientists involved in the debunked ‘climategate scandal,’ in which scientist internal emails were stolen, misconstrued, and widely misinterpreted, publish an open letter in The Guardian decrying Heartland’s hypocritical attitude.

  • February 20th, 2012
Peter Gleick publishes an article on the Huffington Post admitting that he had ‘received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy,’ and then went on to use a fake name in order to obtain more documents.

  • February 21st, 2012
The Heartland Institute begins damage control, including sending many cease and desist letters to organizations discussing the event such as DeSmogBlog and the National Wildlife Foundation.

  • February 22nd, 2012
The leaked documents have also lead  ‘Raúl Grijalva, a Democratic member of Congress, to call for a congressional investigation into whether Goklany, described as a senior policy analyst at the Department of the Interior, had broken rules by accepting a monthly stipend of $1,000 from Heartland.’

  • Today
As of today, Gleick is facing a possible firing from his job due to ethics violations, along with commendations of ‘hero’ from some environmental organizations. What do you think? Is Gleick a villain or a hero?


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