DeSmogBlog, Dr. Peter Gleick, and the Fakegate Scandal

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The following summary and update on the Fakegate episode was written by David Burton, who maintains the website. Burton has given The Heartland Institute permission to post his excellent work here to provide visitors with a “one stop” summary of this remarkably low point in the climate alarmists’ efforts to impugn Heartland and others who refuse to concede the “science is settled” on global warming.


By David Burton,

Dec. 27, 2017 (with minor subsequent updates)

If you spend any time studying the climate change debate, you will come across DeSmogBlog, a website devoted to smearing anyone who deviates from the Al Gore/Greenpeace line on climate change. However, you might not be aware of the fact that the climate activists at DeSmogBlog have a long history of dishonesty. DeSmogBlog has the same degree of trustworthiness as “Infowars” and “HotWhopper,” and “Skeptical Science” (i.e., no credibility at all). Smearing good people with lies is their M.O..

The founders of DeSmogBlog were funded with “dirty money” from convicted Internet gambling felon John Lefebvre.

There is a reliable source of information on the Internet where a selection of reliable suppliers of generic Sildenafil at a low price is collected.

Their co-founder, Ross Gelbspan, is a scam artist who intermittently claims to be a Pulitzer Prize winner. He’s not. Seven other reporters at the Boston Globe won the Prize, and he worked with them, and he apparently thinks he should have shared their Prize, so he just pretends that he did.

I’m not kidding; here are a couple of articles about it:

Sympathetic former colleagues at the Globe tried to cover for Gelbspan, declaring him to be a “co-recipient” of the Prize, but that just proves they’re dishonest, too. The Globe doesn’t get to decide who the recipients of the Pulitzer Prize are, of course.

DeSmogBlog also conspired with Dr. Peter Gleick to smear The Heartland Institute with a forged “strategy memo,” in the “Fakegate” scandal.

In fact, DeSmogBlog still, to this very day, claims that Gleick’s forgery is legitimate. (I don’t think anyone else of consequence does.) They have a copy of it on their web site, linked from a DeSmogBlog disinformation page which begins as follows:

Heartland Insider Exposes Institute’s Budget and Strategy

By Richard Littlemore • Tuesday, February 14, 2012 – 13:14

An anonymous donor calling him (or her)self “Heartland Insider” has released 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 levelled against the organization…

At the same time that DeSmogBlog was disseminating and defending Gleick’s forged & stolen Heartland documents, their other co-founder, Jim Hoggan, was busy working on a book which lamented the “toxic rhetoric” and “the divisive state of public debate,”

How’s that for truly world-class chutzpah?

The only reason Gleick didn’t go to prison is that the sympathetic U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois stonewalled and refused to prosecute, until the statute of limitations had run out.

Adding extraordinary hypocrisy to his sins, Gleick was the Chairman of the American Geophysical Union’s Scientific Ethics Task Force when he committed fraud, identity theft, forgery & defamation to smear Heartland! Believe it or not!



First, Gleick looked up Heartland’s Board of Directors, and picked a Board Member who lived out of town (i.e., far from Chicago), to be his identity theft victim.  (I can guess who it was, but don’t know with 100% certainty.) Then Gleick created a gmail account in the name of that person.

On Jan. 22, 2012, Gleick first emailed Heartland, using the new gmail account, impersonating his identity theft victim. This is what he wrote:

Can you please add (or have the appropriate staff member add) this personal email address to the Board mailing list for all future Board communications? Do not delete my __________ address — just add this one as a duplicate.

And send a reply here, confirming?

Thank you,



Heartland Institute Board Member

On Feb. 2, 2012, Gleick again emailed Heartland, impersonating his identity theft victim. He wrote:

Can you update me on the current Board schedule, if there are any dates I should know about?

Also, can you send me the most recent Board minutes and agenda materials, if they are available?

Thank you.

On Feb. 4, 2012, Gleick again emailed Heartland, impersonating his identity theft victim. He wrote:

Thank you. I see the notice of the last meeting and the agenda, but not the actual minutes or the handouts (if copies are available electronically).

I will get back to you on the schedule when I’m back in the office.

(Those are the highlights; if you want the rest of the email conversation Heartland has it on their site.)

In response, Heartland sent him all the materials he requested.

Gleick hoped to find something damaging, which he could use to expose wrongdoing by Heartland. But he was disappointed: there wasn’t anything like that.

So Gleick fabricated it. Using information from those stolen documents, he forged an additional document, which he entitled ”Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy.” The forged document contained real, confidential information, taken from the stolen documents, interspersed with fake evil plans, taken from Gleick’s imagination.

An example of the latter was Heartland’s supposed plot for “dissuading teachers from teaching science.”  Believe it or not, those were the actual words Gleick used, when trying to impersonate an unnamed Heartland leader. Apparently Gleick suffers from the bizarre delusion that climate realists actually oppose science, and actually talk like that.

Gleick (anonymously) via DeSmogBlog (supposedly not knowing where it came from) then distributed the entire trove of documents, including both the stolen ones and the forged one, far and wide, to smear Heartland.



Nov. 22, 2011: “AGU’s new task force on scientific ethics and integrity begins work,” by Peter Gleick (chairman) and Randy Townsend:

Jan. 22 thru Feb. 4, Gleick uses a fake email account to impersonate a Heartland Board Member, to steal the documents intended for that Board member (see “Synopsis,” above).

Feb. 14, 2012, DeSmogBlog releases the documents, the stolen ones and the fake one, under the headline, “Heartland Insider Exposes Institute’s Budget and Strategy.” Hundreds of other outlets picked up the story. To this day, more than five years later, DeSmogBlog still pretends that the forgery is genuine:

On Feb. 16, 2012 Steve Mosher (of Berkeley Earth / BEST) recognized Gleick as the probable forger, from distinctive characteristics of his writing style, which led to his identification as the source of the documents:

On Feb. 20, 2012 Ross Kaminsky wrote in The American Spectator about his suspicion that Gleick was the forger:

Feb. 20, 2012 (and updated w/ formatting changes only, the next day): Gleick’s attempt at damage-control, in Huffington Post — he confessed to stealing the documents, but not to the forgery:

AGU’s Feb. 21, 2012 announcement that Gleick had resigned as chair of AGU’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics:

Feb. 21, 2012: The Atlantic had a pretty good article on Gleick’s crimes, though they didn’t mention DeSmogBlog’s role:

Feb. 22, 2012: NPR All Things Considered soft-peddles Gleick’s crimes:

AGU on Feb. 27, 2012: “We Must Remain Committed to Scientific Integrity” — while whitewashing Gleick’s crimes:

Dec. 5, 2012: AGU honors Gleick with an invited speaking engagement at AGU12:

Feb. 8, 2013: National Geographic rewards Gleick for his crimes with a new blog at their ScienceBlogs subsidiary:

Feb. 2017: Federal five-year statute of limitations expires, with U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon still refusing to bring charges against Gleick for his crimes.



Gleick eventually confessed to impersonating a Heartland Board member, to steal the genuine documents.

Gleick’s “damage control” story is that he (and, inexplicably, he alone) was anonymously snail-mailed a copy of the “strategy memo,” and that is what prompted him to impersonate a Board member and steal the documents: to try to verify that the strategy memo was genuine.

However that is implausible, because:

  1. There’s no evidence at all that the forged “strategy memo” even existed before Gleick stole the other documents. We know from the timestamp on it that it was scanned after Gleick stole the other documents.
  1. The forgery which Gleick distributed relied on information in the documents that he, himself, had stolen. By including bits of information from the stolen documents, he attempted to make the forged document seem genuine. It is not plausible that the forgery could have been created without access to the documents which he stole, and nobody else outside of Heartland had those documents.
  1. Gleick apparently has not shown anyone the “original” copy document or envelope, which he claimed he received, nor offered to cooperate with any sort of investigation to determine who actually wrote it or sent it to him.
  1. It was the idiosyncrasies of Gleick’s own writing style in the forged “strategy memo,” noticed by Steve Mosher (of Berkeley Earth / BEST) and others, which first cast suspicion on Gleick as the likely forger. Here’s Mosher: (Also saved here: )


That is obviously compelling evidence that Gleick, himself, wrote it.

  1. The only evidence of any sort to suggest that the forged strategy memo existed before Gleick stole the other documents is Gleick’s own word – and he’s a proven liar and felon with a very strong motive to lie about it.


Lies are like fleas on a dog: if you find one, you can be pretty sure there are others.  Luke 16:10



The Atlantic

American Spectator


Steve McIntyre

Revkin / NY Times


Samizdata blog


This is a 57-page slide presentation (with some redactions) produced by Heartland’s legal counsel, Jones Day. It is entitled, “Criminal Referral of Dr. Peter H. Gleick Talking Points.” It was presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, and Heartland asked that Gleick be prosecuted for his crimes. The U.S. Attorney, a Democrat, declined to prosecute Gleick:

Google finds even more:



If you want a great example of “fake news,” there’s the story about how Gleick was supposedly “cleared” of suspicion of being the forger. This story is by The Guardian’s ”US environment correspondent,” Suzanne Goldenberg:

Opening paragraph:

“A review has cleared the scientist Peter Gleick of forging any documents in his expose of the rightwing Heartland Institute’s strategy and finances, the Guardian has learned.”

You might wonder “what review?” Or “by whom?” Or “how is a ‘review’ different from an ‘investigation?’”

In fact, Goldenberg didn’t give a source because she didn’t have one. Although Goldenberg didn’t admit it in the article, she got the information from Gleick’s own organization, the inexecrable Pacific Institute, and that organization didn’t say who created the “review” which supposedly cleared Gleick, and they never even released a copy of the report from that “review.”

It turns out there was no investigation at all. They just hired a lawyer named Gary Scholick, a specialist in labor law, with no apparent relevant expertise w/r/t forgery, to supposedly write a “review” of the documentation which they gave him.

I say “supposedly,” because that review was never released, and, to this day, Scholick is not mentioned anywhere on the Pacific Institute web site:

My guess is that the “review,” if it actually existed at all, was just a few sentences in a letter, saying that Scholick found no evidence in the material he was given, blah, blah blah.

Here’re a couple of WUWT articles on it:

It sure makes it hard to take The Grauniad seriously.

Note that Gleick’s crimes didn’t seem to hurt his career much.

Pacific Institute quickly reinstated him as their President (now “President Emeritus”).

The AGU let him “resign” for “personal, private reasons” as chair of AGU’s Task Force on Scientific Ethics, and did not revoke his AGU membership.

The NAS did not revoke his membership, either.

Scientific American whitewashed the affair, with an interview with Gavin Schmidt, in which he minimized the significance of the scandal, attacked Heartland, and didn’t even mention the forgery.

He was subsequently rewarded by National Geographic’s (now defunct) ScienceBlog subsidiary, with a blog there. He was their resident “scientist, innovator, and communicator” on “global water, environment, climate” (and presumably identity theft, fraud, character assassination, and forgery):

Michael Mann still loves him:

HuffPo loves him, too:



I think the dishonesty of Climate Movement activists like DeSmogBlog and Peter Gleick is a lot like the dishonesty of the Piltdown Man hoaxer.

I don’t doubt that the Piltdown hoaxer truly believed that men and primates are descended from a common evolutionary ancestor. He just ginned up a little fake evidence to bolster the case for what he was already sure was true… just like Climate Movement activists like Gleick forge documents, manipulate & withhold data, blackball skeptics, etc., to bolster the case for what they are already sure is true.  They don’t even think of themselves as dishonest, they’re just using a little deception in support of a greater truth.

The response of those duped by such deceptions is instructive, too. When a belief has been held for long time (or even for a short time, for less-than-careful thinkers), it settles into the mind, and becomes comfortable there, and is reluctant to leave. People who have been convinced of something by false evidence, if they have held that belief for a long time, rarely become unconvinced of it if the evidence is later shown to be false.

That’s why The Big Lie works so well.

How many people changed their opinions about evolution, in even the tiniest detail, when Piltdown Man was revealed to be a hoax?  How many CAGW true believers are now doubters in the wake of the Climategate and Fakegate revelations?

Few. Precious few.


Dave Burton

Cary, NC

CO2 Coalition site:

My personal site:




Disgraced Identity Thief Peter Gleick: Democracy Under Assault From Liars

Guest essay by Eric Worrall
[First published at Watts Up With That]

Disgraced Identity Thief and liar Peter Gleick has urged fellow scientists to rise up and defend Democracy and climate science from those who misrepresent facts and make false statements.

I’m Marching to Fight the Alarming War on Science. Join Me

TWO NEW PUBLIC marches and demonstrations focused on science and climate change have been scheduled for April. I plan to be at both.

A disturbing array of fundamental social and human values are under assault in the United States. These values—basic human rights, amicable international relationships, environmental justice, free speech, separation of church and state, an open and independent media, and more—form the bedrock of what makes our country special. Yet these values are being undermined in an unprecedented assault by the Trump administration and by politicians who see an opportunity for an unprincipled massive power grab.

One tool being used in this assault on democracy is the uninhibited use of lies, false statements, blatant and intentional misrepresentations of fact, and bad science. This is evident in the rejection of the undeniable reality of climate change by many of Trump’s top appointees, the promotion to power of individuals who reject the fact of evolution in favor of pseudoscience and religious fundamentalism, the spreading of bad medical science around the proven safety of vaccines, and the refusal to study the health risks of guns. …

Peter Gleick impersonated a member of the Heartland Board of Directors to steal documents, then spiced up the swag with a [likely]* forgery when he discovered it didn’t contain anything incriminating, all while serving as chair of the American Geophysical Union Taskforce on Scientific Ethics.

In my opinion Peter Gleick is part of the assault on integrity and ethics, not part of the solution.

Why isn’t Gleick in jail for committing wire fraud and other serious crimes? Why does anyone take him seriously, when self confessed liar Peter Gleick poses as a champion of Democracy and scientific integrity?

Lets hope President Trump finds time in his schedule to look into the shocking failure by authorities to prosecute someone who by his own admission likely committed serious crimes.

[Read the rest here.]

Gleick Resigns as President of Pacific Institute… Because of Fakegate?


Today, POLITICO announced disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick has stepped down as president of the Pacific Institute, though he will remain there as a researcher and fundraiser. Interestingly, no successor has been named, so “the search for a new president is underway.” What was the hurry?

In 2012, Gleick stole the identity of a Heartland board member (committing identity theft, a federal crime) and used it to commit a second crime (stealing and revealing confidential documents from a competitor, industrial espionage). He confessed to both crimes, but not to a third crime, libel, which he very likely committed by forging a document and lying repeatedly to his allies — and then to the general public and to his own board of directors — about the true origins of that document. He has yet to confess to that crime. This whole hoary incident is called Fakegate and is documented on this site.

The Heartland Institute, Gleick’s victim, carefully documented Gleick’s crimes and tried to persuade the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois to prosecute him, but failed. At the time, we couldn’t understand why: Gleick confessed to committing crimes, and the crimes he committed caused great damage to Heartland’s reputation and to the wider world of public policy debate. Letting him go unpunished would set a terrible precedent: Groups that support different perspectives on controversial issues are now apparently free to break the law to attack and discredit their opponents.

Why didn’t the Department of Justice prosecute Gleick? Events in recent weeks help explain it. 

The Obama administration’s heavy-handed abuse of constitutional authority has extended beyond the IRS, FCC, and EPA to include the Department of Justice. The DOJ apparently has consulted with the FBI to investigate global warming realists, and possibly plans to use RICO against groups like The Heartland Institute. Astonishing, and frightening. And it raises an obvious question: For how long has DOJ viewed global warming realists as possible criminalsand not victims? 

Maybe The Heartland Institute never stood a chance against Peter Gleick, because DOJ already made up its mind that alarmists are the “good guys” and realists are the  “bad guys” in the global warming debate. Maybe Gleick had political protection from the White House. Maybe political bias trumped justice?

Which brings us back to Peter Gleick’s resignation as president of the Pacific Institute. Gleick is only 60 years old. It’s unusual for a CEO to resign without announcing a replacement … unless the resignation was involuntary and there wasn’t time to recruit a replacement. Was Peter Gleick fired?

Maybe members of the board of the Pacific Institute, who refused to respond to not one but two letters from The Heartland Institute warning them of Gleick’s misconduct and calling on them to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, finally realized they were being lied to by Gleick. That they had failed to behave in an honorable fashion. That their fake “internal investigation” was being misrepresented by the liberal mainstream media. That their failure to act had made the Pacific Institute a joke to many in the science community because its CEO was an unconvicted felon. 

Maybe some of this, or all of this?

The statute of limitations on Gleick’s crimes runs five years … to February 2017, a month after a new president is installed in office. Interesting timing.

Roy Spencer vs. Peter Gleick = Acclaimed Scientist vs. Disgraced Thief

Heartland Institute Senior Policy Advisor Norm Rogers has an excellent piece in today’s American Thinker about Dr. Roy Spencer — a man Rogers says might be “the world’s most important scientist.” Read the whole piece below, but first see this excerpt about Peter Gleick, a frequent attacker of Spencer.

Peter Gleick, the third author of the attack on Spencer, is a water scientist and a self proclaimed climate scientist.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius award.  He is also a criminal, albeit one that avoided prosecution due to good political associations.  Approximately six months after the Daily Climate blast at Spencer, Gleick impersonated a board member of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian Chicago think tank with global warming skeptic tendencies.  Perhaps believing his own propaganda, he thought that if he could get the confidential packet of documents distributed at the Heartland board meeting, he could prove that Heartland had a nefarious agenda funded by the fossil fuel industry.

When that confidential information turned out not to be incriminating, he forged additional documents designed to discredit the Heartland Institute.  (He claimed the forged documents were sent to him anonymously in the mail.) He “leaked” everything to the global warming advocacy blogosphere.  But Gleick was an amateur criminal and was quickly exposed.  One of his mistakes was to feature himself in the forged documents, making it appear that Peter Gleick was a person of great concern to the Heartland Institute.  Gleick used a fake email account to execute his crime.

He clearly violated the federal wire fraud statue (18 USC 1343).  Gleick’s lies were widely disseminated and greatly damaged the Heartland Institute.  In spite of strenuous requests by the victim Heartland Institute, the administration’s U.S.  Attorney in Chicago has refused, so far, to prosecute.  Gleick was quickly rehabilitated, returned to his position as the president of the Pacific Institute and given the honor of an invited talk at the 2012 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.  Maybe the MacArthur Foundation will give him another genius award for escaping prosecution and professional shame.

Read the whole thing below:

Continue reading “Roy Spencer vs. Peter Gleick = Acclaimed Scientist vs. Disgraced Thief”

Is Jerry Brown Coming After Peter Gleick’s Shotgun?

From our friends over at RealScience:

California plans to confiscate guns from 20,000 people who bought them legally but have since been disqualified because of criminal or psychiatric problems, boosting the state’s relatively tough approach to gun control.

Peter Gleick is a confessed fraudster, thief and probable forger. He also owns a shotgun.

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Wednesday allocating $24m – generated by fees taken from gun buyers at the time of purchase – to the crackdown, the first in a series of gun control bills following the Sandy Hook massacre.

“This bipartisan bill makes our communities safer by giving law enforcement the resources they need to get guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor.

California to confiscate guns from 20,000 people who own them illegally | The Raw Story

The most dangerous individuals in California are the police, who terrorized Los Angeles for a week last winter. They should be immediately disarmed.

Not a Joke: Disgraced Thief Peter Gleick Poses for ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award

As of yet, disgraced scientist Peter Gleick has not appeared in public to receive the award the enviro-left would like to give him for his willingness to commit crimes in the service of destroying all who present real science.

Honestly, I find it amazing that some wacko leftist outfit hasn’t already re-jiggered a bowling trophy with Gleick’s name on it to laud him for ratting out apostates of the religion of climate alarmism. Pity. He’ll just have to settle for his creation of the Fakegate scandal as a legacy.

As for the “major award” for Gleick, word comes that the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Awards gave him and the Pacific Institute a “Lifetime Achievement” Water Conservation Award. By bestowing this “honor” on Gleick, the organization has sullied any good reputation it might have enjoyed. Peter Gleick’s actions are an affront to science, and a disgrace the Pacific Institute shares.

Continue reading “Not a Joke: Disgraced Thief Peter Gleick Poses for ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award”

When Scientists Behave Badly

Daniele Fanelli, a research fellow at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh, has a commentary in the February 14 issue of Nature in which he discusses “an epidemic of false, biased and falsified findings” appearing in the world’s peer-reviewed journals. How to stop and reverse this trend?

Fanelli describes the many proposals that have been discussed in Nature and elsewhere — “improving mentorship and training, publishing negative results, reducing the pressure to publish, pre-registering studies, teaching ethics and ensuring harsh punishments.”

But all this, Fanelli says, isn’t enough.

Continue reading “When Scientists Behave Badly”

Does DOJ Take Corporate Espionage Seriously?

Today’s Wall Street Journal has a Page 1 story titled “U.S. Ups Ante for Spying on Firms,” describing how “top administration officials” are promising to get tough on hacking and the theft of confidential information from American businesses.

The new push comes on the heels of fresh allegations of Chinese cyberspying. … The Obama administration is casting trade-secret theft as a major threat to both economic and national security.

Why, then, hasn’t the Obama administration prosecuted a major case of corporate espionage involving wire fraud that took place more than a year ago, and in which it already has a confession from the culprit?

I speak, of course, of disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick, who confessed to assuming a false identity to steal corporate documents from my organization, The Heartland Institute, with the express purpose of harming the organization.

Continue reading “Does DOJ Take Corporate Espionage Seriously?”

American Geophysical Union Welcomes Back Disgraced Peter Gleick, Gives Him Speaking Slot

ClimateAuditGleickClimate Audit’s Steve McIntyre attended the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco from December 3-7, and blogged about it Saturday. Of the 20,000 people in attendance, McIntyre writes that he was shocked to run into Peter Gleick — admitted fraudster, thief of confidential Heartland Institute documents, and the star of the “Fakegate” scandal of his own making.

But the most surprising, even astonishing, appearance was by Peter Gleick himself. Gleick did not simply return, but was honored by an invitation to speak at a prestigious Union session. I hadn’t even thought to look for Gleick on the program, but noticed him outside a session.

It is not just astonishing that Gleick would show his face at the AGU’s conference considering his admitted crimes, but that the AGU invited Gleick to speak at one of the sessions.

Continue reading “American Geophysical Union Welcomes Back Disgraced Peter Gleick, Gives Him Speaking Slot”

Why We Need Debate, Not Consensus, on Climate Change

The president of The Heartland Institute replies to Fred Krupp’s Wall Street Journal essay.

Dear Fred,

I read your August 7 opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, “A New Climate-Change Consensus,” with great interest. As you know, The Heartland Institute is a leading voice in the international debate over climate change. The Economist recently called us “the world’s most prominent think-think promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.”

First, I welcome you to the effort to bring skeptics and alarmists together. We need your help. We have been trying to do this for many years.

For example, we ran more than $1 million in ads calling on Al Gore to debate his critics. He repeatedly refused. We hosted seven international conferences on climate change and invited alarmists to speak at every one, the most recent one held in Chicago on May 23-24. Only one ever showed up, and he was treated respectfully.

Regrettably, your colleagues in the liberal environmental movement responded at first by pretending we don’t exist, and when opinion polls and political decisions revealed that strategy wasn’t working, by denouncing us as “deniers” and “shills for the fossil fuel industry.”

Continue reading “Why We Need Debate, Not Consensus, on Climate Change”