Published December 15, 2009
To a chorus of boos, a man dressed as a polar bear entered Copenhagen's main conference center Tuesday and began paging the discredited climate scientist whose hacked e-mails sparked the Climate-Gate scandal.
Using a megaphone to pierce the rumble of hundreds gathered inside the Bella Center, which is hosting the city's global climate summit, the polar bear boomed out:
"PHIL JONES??? HAS ANYONE SEEN PHIL JONES???"
Jones, who stepped down from his leading academic post amid swirling scandal earlier this month, has reportedly skipped the climate conference entirely. But his shadow and his words could affect its outcome.
It was Jones who, in an e-mail to a colleague, wrote of using a "trick" to "hide the decline" of data indicating global warming from the 1980s and onward. That e-mail and thousands of others were posted online in November, and have since been taken as evidence by skeptics to claim global warming is a scam.
One of those skeptics was the man behind the bear suit: Phelim McAleer, a journalist and filmmaker who last year produced "Not Evil Just Wrong," which disputes many of the assertions made in former Vice President Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."
McAleer, a persistent critic of Gore's film, frequently attends public events and venues to question and discuss the Nobel Prize-winner's position on environmental issues. McAleer has now turned his sights on Jones and the Climate-Gate scandal.
When asked about the motivation behind his protest, McAleer explained his vision of a future film, a Roger & Me for the climate change movement. "I wasn't getting anywhere with conventional attempts for an interview," he told FoxNews.com, "so I decided to use the environmentalist trick of dressing up as a polar bear to catch attention."
Theres a serious side to to McAleer's antics, of course. "Professor Jones has produced a lot of the IPCC's science and now he and the science is in question and he needs to answer some serious questions," he said. "They are suggesting massive changes to our way of life — therefore Professor Jones and his dubious methods should face hard questions."
Jones and others have come under intense fire since the hacked e-mails became public. Other climate researchers were revealed to have blackballed dissenting scientists and the journals that published them, planned to delete sensitive stores of climate data, and regretted aloud the "travesty" that temperatures had flattened out in the past decade.
Jones, a leading academic in the field of climatology, left his job as the director of the Climatic Research Unit at Britain's University of East Anglia pending an investigation into the e-mails. For years, he and his unit have sounded alarms about a pending climate catastrophe -- but now they are facing increasing scrutiny over their work, which was taken as gospel by many in the field.
The 57-year-old Jones has become a distraction to some but an embarrassment to others who believe climate change is real. While no one in the highly partisan crowd attacked the bear, one woman advised him to "get out of here now while you still can."
Just not before getting his picture snapped.