Rick Piltz was a climate policy wonk (*) who served in the administration of President George W Bush at the White House, and later resigned from that administration. He provided The New York Times copies of documents showing edits which White House attorney Philip Cooney had made in scientific reports on climate change. For example, according to a story regarding his recent passing in The Times,
Mr. Cooney crossed out a paragraph describing to what extent mountain glaciers and snowpack were projected to shrink. His note in the margins said the report was “straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings.”
Mr Cooney later went on to a public affairs job at Exxon-Mobil. The same article reports that Mario Lewis, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, tried to discredit Mr Piltz in a 2007 article in National Review, although he was revising the history of Cooney’s extreme edits. (Mr Lewis apparently makes a career out of this sort of thing.)
Mr Piltz resigned because he “could not be complicit” in the systematic downplaying of science reporting on climate change. Like many people in that situation, he remained unemployed for 9 months afterwards, and, to my mind, was all the more honorable because he did not seek whistleblower protection status (**).
The Times reports Piltz coined the term climate denier.
(*) I use the term “wonk” with affection, in the way I am not only comfortable with but proud of being called a geek or a nerd.
(**) I did something similar once upon a time.