- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2012

For believers in a science that supposedly is “settled,” global-warming advocates are awfully concerned about the need to silence dissent. Last week, the ethics chairman for the American Geophysical Union resigned in disgrace over his role in a black-bag job meant to intimidate the Heartland Institute, one of the most effective voices questioning the anti-carbon-dioxide orthodoxy.

On Monday, climate scientist Peter H. Gleick confessed that he stole the identity of a Heartland staffer in order to obtain confidential financial files detailing the private group’s finances. Mr. Gleick then spread those papers around to various global-warming blogs, intending to discredit the group’s work as if it were bought and paid for by big oil companies.

That particular line of attack is especially pathetic. According to Heartland’s publicly available Internal Revenue Service filings, its budget is about $6 million. The institute works on education, health care, telecommunication and other issues, with only about a quarter of its funds devoted to the environment. Let’s compare that to the other side. According to the Government Accountability Office, U.S. taxpayers forked over $26.1 billion to bankroll climate-change programs in President Obama’s stimulus bill alone. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The European Union also spent $9.5 billion on climate-change financing, and the United Nations chips in as well.

The voices shouting that “the sky is falling” are rewarded with Nobel Prizes, Oscars, research grants, loans and subsidies that essentially are without limit. Compared to this level of support, Heartland couldn’t be more of an underdog, but its bark has the climate billionaires on the run.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) went so far as to imply that Heartland’s devastating critiques drove Mr. Gleick to commit his crime. “It’s unfortunate that the bitter, personal attacks on his colleagues and their work contributed to what he called a lapse of his own personal judgment and ethics,” UCS President Kevin Knobloch wrote on the UCS blog. Mr. Knobloch went on to equate the Heartland theft with the Climategate documents leaked from the University of East Anglia beginning in 2009.

There are several key differences. The Climategate emails were written on the taxpayer dime and were improperly withheld from release under freedom-of-information laws. The items that were released online contained no sensitive, private information. The Heartland documents, on the other hand, contained personal contact information for staffers who have nothing to do with the environmental debate.

The Climategate emails showed that the prophets of imminent global catastrophe used the peer-review process to silence critics while employing dubious techniques to shield their publicly funded work from review by the taxpayers who were paying their salaries. Heartland doesn’t take government money, so what it chooses to disclose is its own business.

When “scientists” sink to Watergate-style tactics to attack the motivation of an underfunded group that has different opinions, they betray their weakness. Climate alarmists know the science isn’t really settled, and they fear their billion-dollar gravy train will disappear once the public realizes it’s been had. In the end, Mr. Gleick has done far more harm to his cause than he has done to the Heartland Institute.

The Washington Times