Steven Greenhut: What's a little fraud to save the Earth?
..."Peter Gleick lied, but was it justified by the wider good?" asked James Garvey of the liberal British newspaper the Guardian. He compared Gleick's action to that of a man who lied to keep his friend from driving home drunk. "What Heartland is doing is harmful, because it gets in the way of public consensus and action," Garvey argued. "If his lie has good effects overall – if those who take Heartland's money to push skepticism are dismissed as shills, if donors pull funding after being exposed in the press – then perhaps on balance he did the right thing.
... It depends on how this plays out."
In his view, anything that gets in the way of "consensus" – i.e., everyone agreeing with Garvey – is dangerous, so why not cheat, as long as it "has good effects"? Let's reserve judgment based on how it plays out.
What would these people argue if a conservative who argues that, say, public-sector unions are bankrupting the state, pulled a similar fraud to get his hands on documents from union officials? Would they be defending that? Of course not. These writers are advancing a Machiavellian political agenda, not advancing a consistent ethical principle.
When it comes to global warming, the ends apparently justify the means. People from all political persuasions do stupid things to advance their cause, but what bothers me most are respectable people who justify behavior they would never tolerate from their foes. That type of ideological fanaticism is corrosive of our democratic society....