“Gleick’s actions last week could potentially damage the public perception of climate scientists in ways that have a lasting impact.”
When it came to light Monday evening that a climate scientist had lied about his identity to obtain and distribute privileged information in order to embarrass a political foe — the right-leaning Heartland Institute — the response from the environmental community was muted.
Climate scientist Peter Gleick acknowledged on his Huffington Post blog Monday night that by assuming someone else’s name to attain the think tank’s private documents and distributing them, he had committed a “a serious lapse of my own professional judgment and ethics.”
But Washington-based green groups — which had previously condemned an unknown hacker in the strongest terms for stealing emails written by climate scientists from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and releasing them to the public — appeared to give Gleick a pass. They either did not comment on his actions (ClimateWire, Feb. 21), or they distanced themselves from him while remaining focused on the information he had unearthed — specifically, Heartland’s efforts to discredit climate science…
But observers in the scientific and ethical fields say Gleick’s actions last week could potentially damage the public perception of climate scientists in ways that have a lasting impact.
“Whether it’s justified or not, any kind of evidence of somebody violating a basic commitment like that would definitely risk erosion of trust — absolutely,” said Michael Nelson, an associate professor at Michigan State University who studies ecology and ethics.
“You don’t push back against people who believe the ends justify the means by embracing that kind of position yourself,” he said. “You have to be committed to certain values like truth-telling, honesty and integrity. And that’s how you push back against people who are willing to do whatever it takes”…