As a fellow trained in the sciences (chemistry) and who reveres the scientific method, I followed Dr. Peter Gleick’s pathetic, mean-spirited attempt to demean and degrade the Heartland Institute with a mixed sense of disgust and sadness. The former because I have nothing but contempt for a man trained in the sciences who stoops to such underhanded, dishonorable tactics as part of a continuing effort to silence people with whom he disagrees. Sadness, because – like so many others who share my particular views – the work that Heartland does is so important to maintaining scientific integrity in a world rushing to embrace the 21st century version of Lysenkoism.
Heartland is an oasis of independent thinking in a desert of close-mindedness. Where else is a fellow like me – someone who understands the theories behind so-called “climate change”, but who has serious questions about the data that purports to prove the hypothesis – to turn? The mainstream media isn’t interested in my views or my questions, nor are the large, powerful environmental organizations who keep their tame stable of journalists toeing the party line. Even my erstwhile professional organization, the American Chemical Society, feels obliged to abandon the scientific method when it comes to climate issues, officially quashing any dissenting opinions or research that do not fall in line with global warming goodthink. My brother Larry and I both resigned from the ACS over this policy, just as many other scientists have resigned from their particular professional organizations for the same reason.
The official party line that people like Peter Gleick relentlessly shove down the throats of gullible, ignorant journalists maintains that people like me are either: 1) ignorant, or 2) in the pocket of some mysterious, nefarious conspirators bent on destroying the planet for the sake of a few dollars more profit. I know neither to be true, but that doesn’t matter. Guys like Gleick give people like me a simple choice: agree with him or shut the hell up. There are no other options in his world.
He and so many like him cling to the fiction that there is an enormous, corporate-funded Goliath attacking scientific integrity, while the tiny, brave defenders of climate science naturally assume the David role. It’s appealing imagery, especially in a nation that admires the underdog as much as America, but it’s exactly backwards. By any measure, organizations that share Gleick’s belief in catastrophic, man-made climate change are the giants, not Heartland and its few allies. They have far more money, they get the mainstream media to parrot their messages and, every bit as important, the bulk of research funding flows in their direction. Moreover, in this country at least, they’re actually getting what they want: coal boilers are shutting down by the score, cars are getting smaller and more fuel efficient by government diktat and the massive power of the EPA continues to drive greenhouse gas emissions down, no matter what damage it does to the economy.
Yet none of that is enough for people like Peter Gleick. They can’t abide even one dissenting voice in the wilderness. Their arrogance of their convictions knows no bounds, so if they can’t prove that an evil conspiracy stands in their way, they’ll invent one. It’s revolting, but sadly representative of the many academics who believe they alone retain a monopoly of truth.
Fortunately, the Gleicks of the world aren’t representative of all academics, even in climate science. Brave voices like Dr. Roy Spencer, Dr. Richard Lindzen, Dr. Craig Idso and Dr. William Gray (just to name a very few) continue to make themselves heard, despite the thundering din of alarmists that seek to drown them out. Heartland is a conduit that attracts those kinds of important researchers, along with lesser lights such as myself who want to continue to grow in knowledge, no matter where that journey leads. It’s a safe haven for those who believe in independent, critical thinking, not only with respect to the environment, but with respect to economic issues, health care and many other issues that are so important to the nation today.
For that reason alone I would be proud to be associated with the Heartland Institute and to contribute whatever of my talents and experience that I can to it. But there is also this: Heartland is not some big, impersonal behemoth lumbering down the public policy road. It’s people. Moreover, it’s good people. There is a family feeling at Heartland that strikes you the moment you go to one of their events. Joe and Diane Bast are as friendly, hard-working and personable as anyone you could hope to meet. They are the down-home honesty of the Midwest personified. And their approach – one that I am sure is the legacy of Heartland’s founder, the late Dave Padden – is infectious. You see it throughout the organization. These are people that you cannot help both like and respect in equal parts.
Allow me to close with a prediction. As tough of a week as I know it’s been for all the good folks at Heartland, I am sure that they will emerge stronger than ever. Peter Gleick’s petulant, childish actions have shown once again just how his ilk will stop at no repugnant end in an attempt to get their way, while Joe Bast, Jim Lakely and the rest of the crew at Heartland have responded with class, coolness and a firm resolve to have the truth be heard. Ironically, the contrast between the two approaches is representative of the division that separates us on the issue of climate change and by exposing it even further, Peter Gleick has inadvertently done even more damage to the foolish crusade he holds so dear.