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The Endangered Planet: Notes for the Ambrosetti Forum

English Pages, 5. 9. 2009

Two years ago I spoke here against the global warming hysteria which was then on the increase in the whole developed world. Looking around now, we have to say that it has grown even bigger and more influential. It can’t go unchallenged. I would like, therefore, to thank the Ambrosetti Forum for giving me a chance to do it. 

My book devoted to this issue, published originally in Czech, is available already in ten languages, since March 2009 even in Italian with the title „Pianeta blu, non verde“ (IBL Libri, Milano, 2009). Its subtitle Cosa è in pericolo: il clima o la libertà? indicates – at least I hope – quite clearly what my position is. Il clima is o.k., la libertà è in pericolo. We should put it in the right perspective. Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate about freedom, not about climate or temperature. 

All the necessary arguments used in this debate are well-known and it is difficult to add anything fundamentally new to them. What we witness can be, however, best described as a “dialog of the deaf.” What bothers me is that especially people who make decisions do not listen. 

We have to keep stressing several simple facts which are almost lost in the existing media noise now, in the media buzz.

First, the increase in global temperature in the last century has been very small, if any at all. Don’t forget it.

Second, there has been no statistically significant net global warming in the last fourteen years. It is not a laboratory proof of the nonexistence of warming but it is a relevant information.

Third, the scientific dispute about the causes of the recent climate changes is not over, it continues.  

Fourth, the idea of a static, unchanging climate is, without any doubts, foreign to the history of the Earth. The climate has been always changing. 

The hysteria continues regardless these undisputable facts. Costly mitigation measures have been already put in place in more and more countries of the world and many more are being planned and prepared.

I am convinced that the impact of the small climate changes we experience and will experience upon human beings and all kinds of their activities is – because of their size – practically negligible. I will use just one argument. The IPCC (and Stern Report) in its model exercises admits that – because of higher temperatures than now – the world GDP in the year 2100 will be only 2.9% lower than without any warming. The same models forecast that the wealth of the developed countries (GDP per capita) will be 8 times higher than now and the wealth of the developing world will be approximately five times higher than the wealth of the developed world today. These figures are not mine, these are the figures of the leading exponents of the global warming doctrine. The question must be raised: should we drastically limit CO2 emissions today by 20, 30, 50, or 80% and, thereby, abandon our way of life for the sake of such a small effect when the future generations of people will be far better off than we are today? My answer is that 2.9% of the future GDP is a minor loss. A loss generated by a completely useless fight against global warming would be far greater. 

To block economic growth by making it more costly is a wrong strategy. History tells us that greater wealth and developments of technology profoundly increase our ability to cope with all kinds of problems, including potential climate fluctuations. We should believe in human adaptation, in technical progress, in the rationality of free people. We should not make decisions for future generations. Individual freedom, not unnatural wisdom of governments, is the key. 

Politicians, their bureaucrats as well as many well-meaning individuals, who accept the alarmist view of anthropogenic climate change, probably hope that – by doing so – they are displaying intelligence, virtue and altruism. Some of them even believe they are saving the Earth. We should tell them that they are passive players in the hands of lobbyists, of producers of green technologies, of agrobusiness firms producing ethanol, of trading firms dealing in carbon emission rights, etc., who hope to make billions at our costs. There is no altruism there. It is a political and/or business cold-hearted calculation. 

I have to repeat my question: Cosa è in pericolo? My answer is: La libertà! E la prosperità! 

Václav Klaus, Ambrosetti Forum, Villa d´Este, Cernobbio, Italy, September 4th, 2009


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