The whole affair casts an interesting light on the whole climate wars front, particularly on the asymmetry of forces.
While the warmists were over the moon about the Heartland documents because it shed a light on the perceived nefarious forces fighting 'climate science', what they revealed instead was the petty cash available to the sceptic side. When cast next to the millions of dollars available to the climate orthodox from governments, transnational bodies (the UN and the EU, for example), from chairtable foundations and big-dollar environmentalists (Greenpeace, WWF etc), the money available to sceptics is tiny. I mean really, really, really tiny.
And it's not just the money, it's also the media. The climate orthodox have at their disposal most of the world's mass media - from the bastions of climate alarmism at the BBC and the Guardian, to well-funded web sites such as RealClimate, DeSmogBlog and others.
And yet, despite the money and the media, the climate alarmists know they are losing support. Despite everything that they have done to subvert peer review - and the Climategate emails showed us what was going on, warts and all, without the need to resort to forgeries - more and more papers are being published which cast doubt on the alarmism. The public perceives the lack of warming and the message that there is still so much doubt about what we do know is getting across. The only way for the alarmists to explain this process, despite the clear disparity of forces, is by an appeal to conspiracy theory. As the Guradian puts it, in its story about Gleick's confession, there is...
a network of fossil fuel interests, rightwing think tanks and politicians have been working to block action on climate change
Gleick, who among other things frequently writes about ethics and integrity on science, is thus driven to look for the evidence to bolster this paranoid fantasy. And, even after breaking the law and just about every code of scientific integrity ever written, he finds nothing to match his fantasy, so we must assume that he manufactured the forged document.
There are some who will see this as a departure from normal means by Gleick. This is just a personal failure, and on the plus side he will have earned martyr points from many of his warmist colleagues, or so they will like to tell us. But this isn't so. It's of a pattern of unethical behaviour that we saw in Climategate. It's the 'any means necessary' mindset that sees climate scientists conspiring to remove troublesome journal editors, to malign opponents, to 'redefine peer review'. Hell, we even saw a small example of it when Gleick 'reviewed' Donna Laframboise's book on the IPCC at Amazon without having taken the trouble to read the book.
While the disparity of forces puts the financial interests and media support firmly in the alarmist camp, the sceptics have some obvious strengths. The first and most obvious is an eye to detail and meticulous picking apart of data among a sizeable camp of sceptics. They are used to poring over data, of looking behind the obvious and of teasing things out of the most unlikely sources. These skills are highly prized in sceptic circles - just as they used to be prized in scientific circles. We see this at work not just in the deconstruction of the hockey stick, but in the way that the IPCC reports were dissected and the references checked (and often found to be from non-peer reviewed literature), or the BEST temperature record found to be at odds with what Richard Muller was claiming it said or... Again and again the sceptic camp shows itself to be worthy of the name. Nothing is taken on trust, everything is challenged and the data checked.
In Gleick's case this process happened very quickly. The allegedly forged document was checked and found to have come from a different source and different time zone. The writing style was shown to be different to the other documents. And, taking things a step further, a number of voices suggested it was Peter Gleick very early on.
This is the sceptic blogosphere at work - and it shows why, despite the disparity of money and media, the alarmists know they are losing. It's just ironic that Gleick fell victim to the very thing that his paranoid fantasy ignores.