Copenhagen, Denmark. Last week at this time, Nobel Laureate and Stanford scientist Dr. Stephen Schneider held a press event at COP15 to launch his new book Science as a Contact Sport. What started as typical presentation of academic material, quickly spiraled into a hostile game of accusations, online attacks and outright lies. Not of great coincidence, this also happens to be the topic of Dr. Schneider’s new book. The book outlines the politics, debates and ideological warfare that has become part of everyday life for researchers whose scientific findings have obligated them to speak out on the daunting probable impacts of climate change. This has been the story of Dr. Schneider’s life as a climate scientist and pivotal member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Originally a proponent of global cooling, Schneider, by his own admission (and pride) retracted this hypothesis when his data began to clearly show that atmospheric CO2 was more probably resulting in a warming effect. He has since been one of the leading voices for global warming and climate change, with a track record that spans decades.
In the case of this particular book launch, the contact sport came into play when documentary filmmaker and climate change denier, Phelim McAleer, took center stage, essentially commandeering the event away from Schneider and the other journalists present. Having had a negative history with this individual, Schneider responded directly and forcefully, escalating the exchange into a heated debate. In response to McAleer’s provocations, UN security showed up on the scene and, following the press event, escorted him away from the premises and demanded his camera be turned off.
A lively moment at the Bella Center, but now it’s over, right? Wrong. The following day, McAleer released a highly altered YouTube version of the incident, edited to appear that he was a victim to a global conspiracy of UN domination fueled by a climate change myth. He asserted that Schneider had refused to answer questions in regards to “Climategate” (which had nothing to do with the book event, but he did in fact answer), and that Schneider himself had called “his” UN thugs on McAleer to suppress his journalism. The YouTube video quickly spread through extreme right wing and conspiracy theory-based blogs, all lambasting Schneider for his role in “UN global domination”. In the end, the incident is a comic footnote on the pages of this historical meeting. Schneider launched a great book that you should read. But as the book suggests, science indeed can be a contact sport…
Please enjoy the following series of videos. Posted below are:
1. The complete, unedited, version of the question and answer period – including the Schneider-McAleer exchange.
2. Phelim McAleer’s YouTube version of the same press event.
3. The full presentation made by Schneider, inclusive of the question and answer period in #2
4. And, just for fun – a clip of Schneider discussing climate change some 30 years ago. It’s amazing that most of us have waited so long to hear this message!
- posted by Arlo Hemphill