Wednesday, May 30th 2012, 5:07 AM EDT
Climate alarmists suffer a setback, but retain their goal
On Friday evening I attended a music festival in Prague and during the break I mentioned to a group of people that I was going to Chicago, among other things to speak at a global warming conference. Their reaction was: “Global warming? Isn’t it already over? Does anybody care about it?” That is how they see it. Maybe it is a European perspective.
The last time I was asked to speak about global warming was in July 2011 in Australia. Of course, one possible explanation is that the audiences are no longer interested in my views on this topic; the other explanation is that this experience of mine is not unique. The topics have undoubtedly changed. I am more often asked to speak about the eurozone sovereign debt crisis than our global warming.
The undeniable fact is that almost from one day to the next the global-warming debate ceased to be fashionable. It disappeared from the headlines. It may weaken the position of the global-warming fundamentalists, but it makes it more difficult for us, the “deniers” or “skeptics,” as they call us, to motivate people to think about this issue and to openly and politically express their views about the irrational, human-freedom-curtailing, human-prosperity-undermining measures and policies introduced by the political establishments in most of the countries of the world in the last two decades, not to speak about the measures prepared for the future. We have to keep repeating that our planet is determined not only by anthropogenic influences but dominantly by long-term exogenous and endogenous natural processes and that most of them are beyond any human control.
The alarmism has subsided, they want to make it “low profile.” Declarations such as the one from 1989 that “global warming is the greatest crisis ever faced collectively by humankind” are no longer popular. The former radical alarmists, even the scientists connected with the IPCC, changed their tactic. More and more often we hear carefully worded statements that “some environmentalists, supported by the media, exaggerated the conclusions that had been carefully formulated by scientists.” We know that they were not “carefully formulated.”
There is no doubt that most of the true-believers in the global warming debate remain undisturbed in their views. Some individuals leave the bandwagon (the most recent well-known case is James Lovelock) but those people who have vested interests (and there are many of them now) together with the men and women who innocently and naively sympathize with any idea that is against freedom, capitalism and markets are still “marching on.”
Discussing technicalities is not sufficient, because the supporters of the global-warming debate are not interested in them. We are not dealing with people who are authentically interested in science and in incremental changes in temperature and their causes. For them, the temperature data are just an instrument in their plans to change the world, to suppress human freedom, to bring people back to underdevelopment. Their ideas are the ideas of ideologues, not of scientists or climatologists. Data and sophisticated theories will never change their views.
There are probably more and more people around us now who do not buy the alarmism of the global-warming debate, but we have to accept that they are not sufficiently motivated to do anything against it. And they don’t know how. Politicians and political activists, bureaucrats in the national and international organizations, and representatives of the subsidized businesses are organized and able to push this doctrine further ahead because to do so is in their narrowly defined interests. Ordinary people are not organized and do not have politically formulated interests. They are also not helped by the existing political parties because these parties are not raising this issue either. They are already — almost all of them — more or less captured by the greens.
To sum up my simple message: Empirical data are important; scientific discoveries are important; the disclosure of malpractices in the IPCC and other “bastions” of the global-warming debate are important; but we have to take part in the undergoing ideological battle. The subtitle of my five-year-old book is What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? There is no doubt that it is all about freedom.
Václav Klaus is the President of the Czech Republic. These remarks were extracted from his presentation to the Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change
in Chicago last week.