Peter Gleick’s ‘lapse of judgement’ has delivered his fellow global warming advocates into a world of pain, and they are struggling to manage the fallout.
Greenpeace USA understands the bad optics, but not the wider damage Gleick wrought:
“This is going to stick,” said Kert Davies, director of research for Greenpeace USA. “For those people who don’t believe climate change is real or think that it’s part of some U.N. conspiracy to control their lives, this will reinforce that view. Those who don’t believe that, who think there is a massive conspiracy by corporate and conservative interests to muddy the science, on that side Peter Gleick is a hero for his temerity to do this.”
But Gleick’s Heartland documents proved the so-called ‘well-funded denial machine’ is anything but well-funded, and destroyed what was a pretty handy warmist narrative about their opponents. He also showed that when it comes to climate ‘science’, feelings come before facts. Gleick claimed it was ‘frustration’ that drove him to either forget or forgo his own ethical standards. That’s not how a man of science thinks, that’s how a deeply invested activist thinks.
Some of his defenders suggest Gleick is guilty only of a ‘small’ breach of ethics, or perhaps deserves praise for whistleblowing heroics. They don’t realize it, but they are further damaging their cause. By making excuses for their friend and fellow-traveler Peter Gleick, they show that when it comes to keeping the global warming gravy train on the tracks, they’ll do and say anything.
Megan McArdle gets it:
Gleick has done enormous damage to his cause and his own reputation, and it’s no good to say that people shouldn’t be focusing on it. If his judgement is this bad, how is his judgement on matters of science? For that matter, what about the judgement of all the others in the movement who apparently see nothing worth dwelling on in his actions?
When skeptics complain that global warming activists are apparently willing to go to any lengths–including lying–to advance their worldview, I’d say one of the movement’s top priorities should be not proving them right. And if one rogue member of the community does something crazy that provides such proof, I’d say it is crucial that the other members of the community say “Oh, how horrible, this is so far beyond the pale that I cannot imagine how this ever could have happened!” and not, “Well, he’s apologized and I really think it’s pretty crude and opportunistic to make a fuss about something that’s so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.”
After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.
Gleick apologists note, she’s talking to you as much as to him.