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Hundreds of gloved hands held signs that read, “Clean energy,” “No more coal,” and “Vegetarian diet is the most effective way to stop global warming.”

Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney flew in from Ireland to defend the use of fossil fuels. The global-warming skeptics directed a documentary “Not Evil, Just Wrong,” which is scheduled for release this summer.

“It’s quite funny to be here, where these thousands of protesters are standing in a foot of snow here in D.C., where it is extremely cold, yet they don’t seem to get the irony of that. It’s like, what global warming?” Ms. McElhinney said.

Fossil fuels power America, Ms. McElhinney and Mr. McAleer said, adding that carbon keeps the lights on, children safe and hospitals open.

The pair noted that fossil fuels “make people wealthy, which is really good because poverty is really tough.”

Nearby, a group of University of Connecticut students in green hard hats danced and chanted, “Clean energy, not bombs, put a garden on the White House lawn.”

Asked why they were wearing green hard hats, sophomore Malin Boutot replied, “We’ve got a lot of building to do to get green jobs.”