- The Washington Times - Monday, February 27, 2012

“Global warming’s desperate caper” (Comment & Analysis, Friday) made a number of inaccurate assertions and took issue with the way I characterized the theft of Heartland Institute documents. I’d like to set the record straight.

First, what Peter Gleick did was wrong. As I’ve said repeatedly, I believe that crimes, including theft, should be investigated and prosecuted within the full scope of the law.

The problem I have with the Heartland Institute is the inconsistency of the organization’s responses to stolen climate-change documents. When unknown individuals hacked into the servers of climate scientists in England in 2009 and released scientists’ private email exchanges, the Heartland Institute exploited the emails to claim the scientists were misrepresenting their research findings. (Subsequently, five independent investigations found no wrongdoing by the scientists.) In stark contrast to its recent angry demands for criminal investigation into theft of its documents, the Heartland Institute then had not a word of concern about the theft.

I also reject the premise that the Heartland Institute should not be subject to public scrutiny simply because it’s a private entity that doesn’t receive government funding. Fossil-fuel companies and other corporations should, as a matter of corporate accountability, disclose the groups they fund - especially if their work is aimed at shaping public policy. The fact that the Heartland Institute accepts such funding with a view toward undermining established science is hardly “its own business.” What’s more, the public has a right to know that it is working to infiltrate taxpayer-funded, public-school science classrooms to inject doubt about the extensive body of climate science.

Major scientific assessments from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the United States Global Change Research Program, the Royal Society and many other rigorous scientific entities conclude that human activity is driving disruptive climate change. We are irresponsible if we don’t act on what science has helped us understand.

KEVIN KNOBLOCH

President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Cambridge, Mass.