Climate change sceptics call on Oxford to cancel lecture

An ultra-conservative American think tank has called for a ban on a lecture due to take place in Oxford next week.

Peter Gleick, a prominent scientist in the field of climate change, and an internationally recognised water expert, has been invited to speak as part of the annual Oxford Amnesty Lectures. He is scheduled to speak on “The Human Right to Water” on 24th April at the Gulbenkian Lecture Theatre.

The Heartland Institute, a group advocating free-market policies based in Chicago, has called Gleick “a bungling thief and scientific fraud” after he admitted to obtaining confidential documents from them using a false name.

He has apologised for his role in the exposé, which revealed plans by Heartland to sway teaching of science to kindergarten children as part of its campaign to discredit climate science.

The revelations brought embarrassment to some of Heartland’s corporate donors. Last month General Motors pulled its funding from Heartland.

Heartland’s president, Joseph Bast, pictured right, has released a statement calling on Oxford to cancel the lecture.

“All honest scientists should be outraged that Oxford University should honour Gleick with a guest lecture,” he said. “The actions Gleick has admitted to having taken – lying repeatedly and committing fraud, and then denying responsibility and refusing to take corrective action – all make him unqualified to speak to students or as a scientist.”

Environmental journalist James Garvey has defended Glick’s behaviour, arguing that he acted in a way that served the “greater good”. He commented: “If Gleick frustrates the efforts of Heartland, isn’t his lie justified by the good that it does?”

Fabienne Pagnier, Secretary and Treasurer of the Oxford Amnesty Lectures, confirmed the talk would go ahead, saying: “The 2012 series, like those before it, reflects Oxford Amnesty Lectures’ commitment to supporting freedom of expression and fostering robust debate about human rights.”

The talks are held annually on behalf of Amnesty International, although the charity is independent and is not related to the University.

A spokeswoman for the University said: “The Oxford Amnesty Lectures are not university lectures.”



  1. exNI

    18th April 2012 at 20:51

    Thank you for publicising this lecture, Heartland Institute, I will definitely go.

    As a rule of thumb, I do the opposite to what evil selfish bastards want me to do.

  2. Barry Woods

    18th April 2012 at 21:47

    hang about..

    discredit science..

    why are you quoting from a document that the general understanding is that Peter Gleick forged himself. That Heartland state is a forged to smear Heartland!

    I prefer Dr Tamsin Edwards communication skills to Dr Peter Gleick’s. (link to Peter pulling the senior scientist routine to Dr Edwards, would a student put up with that?)

    url Dr Tamsin Edwards blog below (UK climate modellor at Bristol)

    My encounter with Peter.

  3. Barry Woods

    18th April 2012 at 21:54

    I notice you mention Garvey praising Gleick…

    Professor Richard Betts (Met Office, Head of Climate Impacts, IPCC lead author AR4 & AR5) had this to say about Garvey/Gleick in the comments of Garvey’s Guardian article.

    Mr Garvey

    I am a climate scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre and also a lead author with the IPCC (NB. the opinions I express here are my own though – I am just telling you that for context).

    I would ask you to refrain from bringing my profession into disrepute by advocating that we act unethically. We already have enough people accusing us, completely incorrectly, of being frauds, green / left-wing activists or government puppets. A rabble-rousing journalist such as yourself telling us that we should “fight dirty” does not help our reputation at all. “Fighting dirty” will never be justified no matter what tactics have been used to discredit us in the past.

    Inflammatory remarks such as yours will only serve to further aggravate the so-called “climate wars”. People’s reputations are already being damaged, and we know that some climate scientists get highly distasteful and upsetting mail through no fault of their own. If people like you continue to stir things up further, it is only a matter of time before somebody actually gets hurt, or worse.

    Please keep your advice to yourself, we can do without it thank you very much.

    Richard Betts (Prof)

    Prof Richard Betts, was also supporting Dr Tamsin Edwards choice of blogname that so offeneded Peter Gleick.

  4. Sam

    19th April 2012 at 08:39

    The Heartland Institute is scarcely deserving of such scorn. They have behaved impeccably throughout this rather squalid episode of identity theft by Gleick, and his publishing of private documents and also of a forged document since someone somewhere decided the real ones did not portray Heartland in a bad light.

    The case for alarm about CO2 is indeed a very weak one, unsupported by observations of weather phenomena, and leaning heavily on discredited computer models and the zeal of campaigners such as Gleick. His zeal led him to a criminal act, but the major harm here is due to the climate alarmism itself and what it has wrought on the world to date.

  5. Barry Woods

    19th April 2012 at 10:38

    Could you check your blog filters, as I have a couple of comments that may be trapped in the spam filter, probably because each had 2 URL’s.

  6. Russell C

    20th April 2012 at 18:28

    “….which revealed plans by Heartland to sway teaching of science to kindergarten children as part of its campaign to discredit climate science.”

    Is Greenpeace writing your article for you? What Heartland tries to do is tell the story of what isn’t told in the mainstream media, namely that skeptic criticism does exist, and it is backed by peer-reviewed science journal-published despite widespread unsupportable talking points to the contrary.

    We are told such “ultra-conservative think tanks” are paid to ‘fabricate doubt’ where there is none about man-caused global warming, but more and more of the public are seeing how basic critical thinking is exposing ever-increasing holes in the issue, and it is becoming ever more obvious that articles like this one and other widespread efforts in the mainstream media are deliberately suppressing the idea that the doubt existed from the very start and that Heartland is heeding a civic duty to point this out.

    The folks at Oxford Amnesty Lectures claim they support freedom of expression, but through his actions, it appears Peter Gleick was out to marginalize his critics by any means possible. This now leads us to wonder about the character of those setting up the Oxford Amnesty Lectures series.

  7. Anonymous

    20th April 2012 at 18:59

    Peter Gleick is a disgrace in the real scientific community. Oxford is giving credibility to his honesty when they allow him to speak under a forum bearing Oxford’s name. For shame. Newton would roll over in his grave.

  8. J Bowers

    21st April 2012 at 17:01

    “The case for alarm about CO2 is indeed a very weak one,”

    Not according to 97% of publishing climate scientists. Sceptical scientists who have published on attribution itself amount to a handful.

    “unsupported by observations of weather phenomena,”

    Observations of anthropogenic global warming (lots of ppapers for you to read)

    “and leaning heavily on discredited computer models”

    Unh-unh. As James Hansen says: paleoclimate first, observations second, models last (and mostly in support of the first two). But even then…

    2011 Updates to model-data comparisons

    “and the zeal of campaigners such as Gleick.”

    A welcome counter to the myriad shills infesting the blogosphere and campaigning on world tours paid for by shady, tax exempt, lobby groups-in-disguise.

    “His zeal led him to a criminal act,”

    Unproven. The FBI seemed very uninterested.

    “but the major harm here is due to the climate alarmism itself and what it has wrought on the world to date.”

    With a greater push for renewables – really? Ever heard of ‘jumping the shark’?

    Increase Of Extreme Events With Global Warming – “Rolling the dice”

  9. J Bowers

    22nd April 2012 at 06:20

    “That Heartland state is a forged to smear Heartland!”

    So much for ‘scepticism’. One day, the world might get the word back.

  10. Anon

    26th April 2012 at 05:54


    You could at least have researched the facts. Peter Gleick fraudulently impersonated a board member of the Heartland institute after being invited to speak at their annual conference. Through impersonation of a Heartland board member he was able to have confidential documents sent to the fake email address he created. When the confidential documents showed no oil company donors or anything embarrassing about Heartland, Peter Gleick forged an additional document to the effect that Heartland was trying to subvert science teaching in schools.

    If you have any integrity at all then you would retract the erroneous and damaging statements in your article.There is plenty of information on the Internet that you could google the entire story.

  11. Anon

    26th April 2012 at 06:07

    Here are the details according to Heartland.

    Please note that Peter Gleick wrote a confession to stealing Heartland confidential ocuments in the Huffington post on his own blog there.

    Peter Gleick is a tireless advocate for human rights and likes to lecture and write about human rights and especially about ethics. Such a pity that Peter and his supporters are unwilling to extend any rights to the donors of Heartland institute or the institute itself – most articles, just as this one, continue to cast false accusations about Heartland.

  12. DJ

    26th April 2012 at 08:38

    J Bowers says:
    21/04/2012 at 17:01

    “The case for alarm about CO2 is indeed a very weak one,”
    Not according to 97% of publishing climate scientists.

    Presumably you mean these 75!

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