Berkeley-based scientist causes ethics storm over climate change documents


For the past two decades, Peter Gleick has earned a reputation as a nationally known expert on water and climate issues, winning a MacArthur "genius award," penning a long list of scientific articles and testifying before Congress.

But over the past two days, the 55-year-old Berkeley resident has found himself at the center of a national maelstrom of his own making: using a false name to obtain confidential documents from a pro-industry think tank known for minimizing the risks of global warming.

The issue has riveted the environmental community and the energy industry, raising questions about whether the damage will extend past Gleick's reputation and harm scientists' efforts to convince the public that climate change is real and largely caused by humans.

Monday, he stunned the scientific community when he admitted -- via his blog in the Huffington Post -- that he obtained confidential fundraising and strategy documents from the libertarian Heartland Institute in Chicago by using someone else's name, and distributed them on the Internet.

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