Peter H. Gleick, an esteemed climate scientist whose specialty is water, admitted this week that he had pretended he was someone else to receive documents from the conservative Heartland Institute. He said in a statement that he had practiced this deception out of frustration. This winter someone mailed him a printed document that supposedly outlined the Heartland Institute’s campaign to teach children to be skeptical of climate science. Dr. Gleick was so frustrated, he wrote, that he sought documents from Heartland under another name (which, he didn’t say). He said he wanted to corroborate statements in the anonymous printout that had come in his mail.

This is heartbreaking, because Dr. Gleick’s biennial reports on water sources, The World’s Water, and his other books, lay out important data about which regions will lack water and which will be inundated in the coming decades. I have relied on Dr. Gleick’s water data and his Pacific Institute for solid figures on what is happening to the world.

It’s good that he admitted, in an unvarnished way, what he’d done. He explained why. But his actions don’t help the cause of sharing information or teaching the public about climate change. Nevertheless, I admire Dr. Gleick’s water research and will continue to use it in my reporting.

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