Twitter can be a cruel place, as “climate expert” and laughing stock Lord Monckton found out yesterday to his cost. Monckton is a British climate change denier, and makes a very good living from it. He is largely ignored in his own country, but it seems America and Australia provide more fertile ground for his brand of “science”, and no doubt his posh accent and title give him added credibility in those places.
Monckton is very important to climate change denialists – they seem to think that he adds credibility to their cause. And he is widely celebrated in the right-wing blogosphere.
Yesterday (31st January) I was alerted to the fact that Monckton had arrived on Twitter. He’d clearly been ill-advised – unlike the rightwing press and blogosphere, Twitter is a place that can bite back. No doubt Monckton was expecting an adoring welcome from his fans – and no doubt he got one. But this would have been at least matched by those who are less friendly to his “cause”.
You see, the great Lord is renowned to be a twister of facts. Furthermore, he makes an extremely good living by being the mouthpiece for climate change denial; a living he protects fiercely. For example, he is reported to have earned $20,000 (Australian) for a recent Australian tour.
Which is good work if there are people dumb enough to pay for it. But more serious, from a factual point of view, are questions about whether money from the fossil fuel industry finds its way into Monckton’s wallet. DeSmogBlog.com reports that Monckton is listed by the “free-market” think-tank The Heartland Institute as a “Global Warming Expert”. The article points out that this organisation has received over $791,000 from ExxonMobil, and that sponsors of its 2009 “Climate Change Conference” had received over $47 million from oil and right-wing interests, making it anything but an impartial scientific body.
Now, Lord Monckton is renowned for silencing his critics by issuing libel writs, so let me make clear at this stage that I have no idea whether the allegations I’ve linked to above are true or false. So you can imagine my delight when I was informed that I could now question him publicly on Twitter, and find out for myself.
I began by warmly welcoming him aboard: It’s nice to see oil-funded climate “expert” @LordMonckton on Twitter. Welcome! More info here: http://bit.ly/ifbS2B – providing a link to a DeSmogBlog.com article about him.
To my great delight, he swiftly responded to me, stating: I am not, nor ever have been, funded by the fossil fuel industry. At last! A chance for Monckton to set the record straight. I realised that he was denying direct funding, so I wondered about indirect funding. I asked Have you ever worked for a body that is oil-funded?
The next reply was somewhat puzzling. Rather than a straight “No”, he said: I have never “worked” (by which I assume u mean f/t employment) for an #oil funded body
This is an interesting definition of the word “worked”. In other words, he could work weekends and evenings, or even four days a week, for an oil-funded body. But so long as he isn’t working full-time for them, he considers that not worth mentioning. My question had clearly not been precise enough, and I decided to clarify: Wow – that was an evasive response. Have you ever done any work for an oil-funded body?
Amazingly, this great researcher, debater and spreader-of-truth didn’t answer! I was stunned. Could Lord Monckton be trying to hide something? Of course, some of his supporters did come to his aid:
@gopthinking said: @LordMonckton Don’t reply to that fool called @Moronwatch, he is a worthless communist!! Not worthy of ur time I assure you!!). Which gave me a warm feeling in my heart – I’m known and loved throughout the Twitterverse! But enough about me – back to Monckton.
He tweeted publicly: I grow more concerned by events in Egpt (sic) so I decided to restart the conversation, and said: You could always deny it’s happening. Works for global warming. This approach didn’t start the productive conversation I’d hoped for.
Next, at 00:32(GMT) @ionstp tweeted: hey @LordMonckton has blocked his tweets! What’s with that? Now we can’t laugh at them or him. Bummer!
I was amazed: this fighter for truth, this great and noble Lord who defends the persecuted and maligned fossil fuel business against accusations that it’s destroying the world, has shunned open debate!
And finally at 08:23(GMT) @NemesisRepublic tweeted: Oh! @LordMonckton seems to have vanished from Twitter! Should I now treasure for posterity the Tweets we exchanged?
And that was it: in a virtual puff of smoke, Monckton had vanished just as quickly as he’d arrived. No doubt, I was one of many who tried to engage in open discussion, and failed. But I’d like to think that I played some small part in the story of what must be one of the shortest-lived Twitter accounts ever.