Professor Stephen Schneider, leader of the Stanford delegation to COP 15 and co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with the IPCC, was yesterday verbally assaulted by an Irish documentary filmmaker at the UN event in Copenhagen. During a 30-minute press conference meant to roll out Schneider’s new book, “Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate,” the first questioner, who was clearly being filmed by a cameraman next to him, proceeded to berate Schneider regarding the recent Climategate scandal. Various news sources covered the incident, including the Huffington Post, yet all have failed to accurately describe what occurred and who the assailant was.
The culprit is one Phelim McAleer, a little-known Irish filmmaker who recently completed “Not Evil, Just Wrong” a feature-length documentary attacking the environmental movement. Judging from the man’s tremendously disrespectful behavior, one could easily distinguish that he views environmentalists with disdain, contrary to what his restrained film title might suggest. Refusing to let any other attendants ask questions, he proceeded to yell at Schneider and accuse him of being a fraud, repeatedly interrupting him even though the climatologist was making an effort to answer his queries. Though it was reported elsewhere that Schneider “repeatedly answered that he did not agree with the deletion of data,” he in fact emphasized that he regularly deletes data if it proves to be incorrect, and did not feel he could make a judgment on the Phil Jones issue without knowing more about exactly what was deleted. With McAleer apparently intent on pursuing his harassment of Schneider, a security guard escorted the irate Irishman away from the professor upon completion of the Q&A.
Schneider is not just one of the world’s most renowned climatologists, a MacArthur genius, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and a truly dedicated educator. (It is largely thanks to him that Stanford was able to send over 50 representatives to the COP.) As he often says, “all good scientists are skeptics”, and he genuinely subscribes to this aphorism: once a proponent of “global cooling” in the 1980’s, he only advocated global warming when he came across evidence that suggested he was previously wrong. The intellectual honesty required to change one’s beliefs if they are proven incorrect is very rare, and, while one may disagree with the policy conclusions Schneider has come to, he is deserving of far more respect than he was given here in Copenhagen.