May 1, 2012
By Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
What could be more American than encouraging a robust debate on one of the most controversial issues of the day? The answer - for some on the left, anyway - is: Lie about your opponents, and make a pathetic effort to discredit them.
That, at least, is what an activist named Peter Gleick decided to do in a backward attempt to promote his view that global warming is unquestionably and primarily a man-made phenomenon - one that will cause calamitous changes in the environment.
On Feb. 14, Mr. Gleick sent several documents he had stolen from the Heartland Institute to more than two-dozen fellow activists. He threw in a fake memo for good measure - one that purportedly showed the institute trying to spread misinformation about climate change. This was followed by the gasps of horror from left-leaning pundits.
Why Heartland? Because this free-market nonprofit group has been at the forefront of the climate-change debate. They’ve published books, articles and reports, held conferences and debunked the hysterical claims of the radical environmental movement. Their efforts have earned them the scorn of liberal activists who would rather smear their opponents than debate them.
Consider the title of one of Heartland’s most prominent environmental reports: “Roosters of the Apocalypse: How the Junk Science of Global Warming Nearly Bankrupted the Western World.” No wonder they found themselves in Mr. Gleick’s cross hairs. As the head of the left-leaning Pacific Institute, he apparently couldn’t let any credible challenge go unsabotaged.
So what did the stolen documents reveal? Mostly that Heartland has a broad base of support and that it is pursuing a variety of projects designed to further its mission. Also included was an array of confidential information - donation levels, contact information for board members and home addresses for some directors, for example.
The centerpiece of Mr. Gleick’s counterfeit cornucopia was an alleged insider memo outlining plans to stop teachers from “teaching science,” and to “undermine” reports from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The memo also claimed the Charles G. Koch Foundation was funding Heartland’s climate-change efforts.
None of this was true, but it didn’t stop Mr. Gleick from loading his “smoking gun.” Unfortunately for him, his ammunition turned out to be blanks. Computer forensic work showed that the memo couldn’t have come from any Heartland computers. It references only the documents that Mr. Gleick stole (a theft which he later was forced to admit). It also contains factual errors that no one at Heartland would have made.
So why create this spectacularly inept forgery that has come to be known as “Fakegate”? It seems to be an obvious attempt to build a counterversion of “Climategate,” a genuine scandal that erupted when emails from the University of East Anglia were leaked in 2009 and 2011. They showed that certain scientists were manipulating data that didn’t support the left’s climate-change agenda and were blackballing scientists who refused to go along with that agenda.
Climategate gave the radical environmental movement a well-deserved and very public black eye - and apparently, a thirst for revenge.
Is “Fakegate” the extremists’ way of admitting that they cannot compete in the environmental debate on a level playing field? The polls aren’t going their way. Nor is the science. In the face of all this, has it just become too much work for them to engage in a fair fight over the facts? Considering that the odds of them winning a fair fight get longer every day, it appears that the answer is yes.
There’s nothing more American than asking questions - even ones that radical environmentalists insist are settled. Bravo to Heartland for standing up to the bullies who want to pretend otherwise.
Ed Feulner is president of the Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).
First Appeared in The Washington Times.
Energy & Environment Initiative of the Leadership for America Campaign
Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
Read More >>
Request an interview >>
Please complete the following form to request an interview with a Heritage expert.
Please note that all fields must be completed.
Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.
The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.
The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.
More than 200,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.
Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."
Sign up to start your free subscription today!
The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with hundreds of thousands of individual, foundation and corporate donors. Heritage, founded in February 1973, has a staff of 275 and an annual expense budget of $82.4 million.
Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More
© 2013, The Heritage Foundation Conservative policy research since 1973