Monckton fights for Exxon's freedom of speech

Christopher Monckton, a well-known climate change “skeptic” and British aristocrat has fired off a response to U.S. Senators Snowe and Rockefeller for their letter this fall urging oil giant ExxonMobil to cease funding to US “think” tanks that are actively involved in the PR campaign to confuse the public about climate change.

In the letter, Monckton, who is far from being an expert on the science behind climate change, says of ExxonMobil, “that great corporation has exercised its right to free speech - and with good reason - in openly providing support for scientsists and groups that dare to question how much the increased concentration of C02 in the air may warm the world.” Monckton goes on to use the regular skeptic talking points, arguing that “warmer is better than cooler,” and saying there's “no evidence that today's temperatures are warmer than during the medieval warm period 1,000 years ago.”

Monckton's plea to take this as a freedom-of-speech issue is risible. Corporations, ExxonMobil included, have the right to defend their interests and should do so in an open and honest manner. Exxon is falling down on both counts.

Instead of being open in urging that people ignore climate change, Exxon is paying other people to say something that would be laughably self-serving if Exxon executives were to say it themselves. For example, how would the public view ExxonMobil and their “biodiversity conservation” program if the company also announced that it has no regard for the top scientists in the world on the most critical environmental issue of the day. In fact, how much faith would we all have in Exxon's ability to run a safe and profitable corporation if we really believed that Exxon took its scientific advice from “skeptics” who couldn't get their views published in any legitimate scientific journal?

Exxon's major competitors and the principal scientific bodies of the world's developed nations agree that, where climate change is concerned, black is black. Exxon pays a hard core of “think” tanks to argue that black is, in fact white. And Christopher Monckton agrees.

The problem is that this kind of speech is not “free.” In distracting us from addressing an issue that threatens the world in an unprecedented way, it is costing us all a price that we may never be able to pay.