This are just a few thoughts I wanted to get down after being blocked on Twitter by the eminent climatologist, Dr. Michael E Mann.
I’m sure Dr. Mann (author of “The Hockey Stick and Climate Wars”) is well used to blocking Twitter trolls on the climate denying right wing but I consider myself broadly in agreement with Dr. Mann, as a former banker who gave up my career in late 2018 to volunteer full time for Extinction Rebellion UK (for the last 18 months I have led their Finance Team). I think we’d both agree we’re in a Climate Emergency.
The events of yesterday were triggered by my spotting a Facebook post by a fellow rebel and member of Scientist Rebellion (not a part of XRUK) who was upset by Dr. Mann’s reply to a tweet which called Scientist Rebellion “performative attention whores” (ouch!) It seemed to me that all they (Scientist Rebellion) had done was to reach out to Dr. Mann inviting him to join them in civil disobedience to highlight the climate emergency (or at the very least to debate why he felt that was the wrong approach).
It’s no surprise when others jump in on a Twitter exchange as did one user, David Galiel, who showed how much he believes in the “Hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.” of his Twitter tagline, by calling Scientist Rebellion “performative attention whores” who are doing “nothing” to help “combat anthropogenic climate change”.
But it felt a bit excessive for Dr. Mann to reply with the ‘Grinning Squinting Face’ emoji!
I have some personal knowledge about the courage/risk it takes to embark on non-violent civil disobedience (or direct action) (NVDA) and so I felt I wanted to show some solidarity with my former rebels.
I was arrested three times in 2019…the first two occasions for deliberate acts of NVDA to highlight the climate emergency. The third time, in September 2019, because I was allegedly involved in the non-XRUK action involving drones at Heathrow Airport (which wasn’t the case!)
By then I was leading XRUK’s Finance Team, which some in authority might have believed meant it was useful to confiscate my computers and phones just days before a second major rebellion in London.
So my only motivation for getting involved in the Twitter thread was to show a bit of solidarity with fellow rebels in Scientist Rebellion (I don’t have to agree with all or anything they do — but I can still admire them for their courage for what can be a lonely existence) 🤔
By the time found the Twitter thread in question it appeared 1–2 others had waded into the debate. In response to a reply from Nick Bain who seemed equally disturbed by the attack on Scientist Rebellion, another scientist, Sarah Thompson, had waded in to defend Dr Mann:
Only I think Dr. Mann WAS laughing (or at least grinning) at “people trying to raise the alarm”. Or else why respond at all to a tweet that calls Scientist Rebellion “performative attention whores”?
Thankfully, Dr Mann had by now (probably) decided his emoji was ill-advised because he’d deleted it. Nevertheless I felt I still wanted to show my solidarity so I replied to Sarah Thompson as follows:
Did I deserve the “mansplainer” accusation? Probably…
Did I expect to be blocked by Sarah Thompson? Not sure, but I’m also not sure I care (and it’s nothing to do with Sarah’s gender).
But I don’t think I expected to be blocked by Michael Mann for simply expressing the opinion that grinning emoji replies to tweets that attack climate activists isn’t a good look and will be interpreted as an attack in itself (which is probably why Mann subsequently deleted it).
Michael — I’m not sure what I did that merited being blocked by you and I’m glad you deleted your tweet. I hope you don’t think I’m a “deeply misguided individual” who is “dividing the community” and “playing right into the agenda of the forces of inaction”. I hope you’ll consider unblocking me on Twitter.
Good luck with the new book (out 10 Feb 2021)!