Czech President Vaclav Klaus on reason, freedom, and the climate alarmists

The world leader with an underlying political philosophy closest to that of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic. Both men are trained economists, influenced deeply by free market principles as articulated by Adam Smith, Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Freeman, and others who understood that individual freedom cannot be sustained in a command-control economy.

Only one of these men has stood firm against the hysteria of the global warming/climate change enviro-extremists, and their champions of the left who tell us that the only solution is more national and international control over economies – and it ‘aint Harper. Vaclav Klaus never misses an opportunity to expose the Al Gore-led international-socialists-posing-as-green-activists for what they are, and summarized it brilliantly last week in his appearance at Washington’s National Press Club. You’ll find the full text of his remarks here on his web site. Some excerpts :

My thinking today is substantially influenced by the fact that I spent most of my life under the communist regime which ignored and brutally violated human freedom and wanted to command not only the people but also the nature. To command “wind and rain” is one of the famous slogans I remember since my childhood. This experience taught me that freedom and rational dealing with the environment are indivisible. It formed my relatively very sharp views on the fragility and vulnerability of free society and gave me a special sensitivity to all kinds of factors which may endanger it.

I do not, however, live in the past and do not see the future threats to free society coming from the old and old-fashioned communist ideology. The name of the new danger will undoubtedly be different, but its substance will be very similar. There will be the same attractive, to a great extent pathetic and at first sight quasi-noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of something above him, (of something greater than his poor self), supplemented by enormous self-confidence on the side of those who stand behind it. Like their predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality. In the past it was in the name of the masses (or of the Proletariat), this time in the name of the Planet. Structurally, it is very similar.

My deep frustration has been exponentially growing in recent years by witnessing the fact that almost everything has already been said, that all rational arguments have been used and that global warming alarmism is still marching on. It could be even true that “We are now at the stage where mere facts, reason, and truth are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda” (R. McKittrick, private correspondence).

The basic questions of the current climate change debate are sufficiently known and well-structured:

1) Do we live in an era of a statistically significant, non-accidental and noncyclical climate change?

2) If so, is it dominantly man-made?

3) If so, should such a moderate temperature increase bother us more than many other pressing problems we face and should it receive our extraordinary attention?

4) If we want to change the climate, can it be done? Are current attempts to do so the best allocation of our scarce resources?

My answer to all these questions is NO, but with a difference in emphasis. I don’t aspire to measure the global temperature, nor to estimate the importance of factors which make it. This is not the area of my comparative advantages. But to argue, as it’s done by many contemporary environmentalists, that these questions have already been answered with a consensual “yes” and that there is an unchallenged scientific consensus about this is unjustified. It is also morally and intellectually deceptive.

 

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