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Environmentalist Gleick admits to soliciting Heartland materials


CHICAGO—In an ongoing controversy, well-known environmentalist Peter H. Gleick has confessed to being the source of documents obtained by subterfuge from a free-market think tank, which in turn is now threatening a lawsuit against him.

Last week, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute issued a statement stating two advocacy groups had posted several documents online that they claimed were the institute's budget, fundraising and strategy plans. Heartland also described one of the documents, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” as a “total fake.”

Among other things, that document described how the institute plans to pay a consultant $100,000 to produce a K-12 school curriculum on global warning. The institute has questioned whether global warming is, in fact, taking place.

In his blog for the Huffington Post, Mr. Gleick, who is president and co-director of the Oakland, Calif.-based Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, said Monday that at the beginning of the year, he had received an anonymous document “describing what appeared to be the details of the Heartland Institute's climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute's apparent efforts to muddle public understanding about climate science and policy,” Mr. Gleick said in his blog.

Mr. Gleick said in an effort to confirm the information's accuracy 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.”

Mr. Gleick, who said he forwarded this information to journalists and climate experts, said his “judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts—often anonymous, well-funded and coordinated—to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.”

In a statement in response, Heartland Institute President Joseph L. Bast said the documents that Mr. Gleick “admits stealing contained personal information about Heartland staff members, donors and allies, the release of which has violated their privacy and endangered their personal safety.”

“Many independent commentators already have concluded” the climate memo was “most likely” written by Mr. Gleick, according to the statement.

The statement says, “We are consulting with legal counsel to determine our next steps and plan to release a more complete statement” Tuesday.

Commentators have come down on both sides of the issue as to whether the climate memo is a fake.

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