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Environment, Liberty and Global Warming Alarmism

English Pages, 14. 3. 2018

Ladies and gentlemen,

many thanks for the invitation and for the organization of this gathering. It is great to be in Guatemala after so many years and to see the visible changes.

As regards the topic of this evening, it is interesting to see your country as it looks like in the era of the so called destructive, human beings endangering global warming. I stress the words “so called” because I am convinced that we have many much more important issues in the current world and in Latin America than the fighting of the hypothetical man-made contribution to the naturally arising shifts and fluctuations of climate.

The issue of climate alarmism, of man-made and human society endangering global warming, which is a part of the ideology of environmentalism, has become one of my main topics as well as worries. I strongly disagree with this popular, politically correct and especially illiberal modern ideology which is not interested in the quality of our natural environment, of the quality of water in our rivers and lakes, of the quality of the air in our cities, etc.

This ideology is about man, about us, about human society, about freedom, about our life. It, however, doesn´t put the individual and his liberty in the centre of its thinking. I find the global warming doctrine, which is the current flagship of environmentalism, an arrogant, human freedom and prosperity of mankind endangering set of beliefs. It is an ideology, if not a religion. Similarly as environmentalism is not about the environment and ecology, global warming doctrine lives independently on the science of climatology. Its disputes are not about temperature, its adherents intentionally participate in the “conflict of visions”. It belongs to the domain of social, not natural sciences.

My way of looking at this topic is based

- on a very special experience gained under the communist regime in which I spent two thirds of my life. This experience sharpened our eyes. We became oversensitive to all attempts to violate freedom, rationality and free exchange of views, we became oversensitive to all attempts to impose on us the dogmas of those who consider themselves better than the rest of us. In the communist era, we witnessed an irrational situation when science was at the same time promoted and prohibited, praised and celebrated, manipulated and misused. I have very similar feelings now;

- on my being an economist who has strong views about the role of markets and governments in human society and economy, about the role of visible and invisible hands in controlling our life and shaping our future and who considers the politically based interventions in the economy connected with the ambitions to fight climate absolutely untenable;

- on my being a politician for 28 years of my recent life who has always been fighting all variants of green ideology, and especially its highlight, the global warming doctrine. I have been for many years intensively involved in the world-wide, highly controversial and heavily manipulated debate about global warming and about the role of human beings in it. I was the only head of state who dared to openly express a totally dissident view at the UN General Assembly already 10 years ago[1].

I actively participated in this debate in many ways, most visibly by a book with the title “Blue Planet in Green Shackels” which was published in 18 languages around the globe (its Spanish version under the title “Planeta Azul (No Verde)”, FAES, Madrid, Spain, 2008). Last year I published a sequel to it called “Shall We Be Destroyed by Climate or by Our Fighting the Climate?” (only in Czech now, the English and German versions forthcoming soon).

I don´t agree with the so called consensus proclaimed about this issue by the global warming alarmists. The real consensus is very narrow. The scientists – and all rational human beings – agree that temperatures have warmed in the past two centuries and that human activities may have played some role in it. Nothing else. It is evident that both the size of warming and its causes continues to be hotly debated. There is absolutely no consensus in this respect.

The politicians who signed the Paris Agreement two years ago are either not aware of the missing scientific ground for it or are aware of it but signed it because it serves their personal or political interests. It may be both – the ignorance and dishonesty.

The politicians understood that playing the global warming card is an easy game to play, at least in the short or medium term. The problem is that the politicians do not take into consideration the long-term consequences of policies based on this doctrine. They hope the voters would appreciate their caring about issues more substantial than the next elections.

Environmentalism needed very much the global warming doctrine. All the other environmentalist´s issues proved to be possible either to solve or to easily reject. They were searching for something which doesn´t have these two weaknesses. The global warming concept has a tremendous advantage – its time dimension covers centuries, it can´t be easily and rapidly proved to be wrong. That is my motivation to concentrate on it.

The global warming doctrine – as opposed to the ocience of climatology – is simple. It can be summarized in the following way:

1. It starts with the claim that there is an undisputed and undisputable, empirically confirmed, statistically significant, global, not local, warming;

2. It continues with the argument that the time series of global temperature exhibits a growing trend which dominates their cyclical and random components. This trend is supposed to be non-linear, perhaps exponential;

3. This trend is declared to be dangerous for the people (in the eyes of “soft” environmentalists) and for the planet (by “deep” environmentalists);

4. The growth of average global temperature is postulated as a solely or chiefly man-made phenomenon attributable to growing emissions of CO2 from industrial activity and the use of fossil fuels;

5. The sensitivity of global temperature to even small variations in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is supposed to be very high;

6. The ongoing temperature increases can be reversed by radical reduction in CO2 emissions, which should be organized by means of the institutions of “global governance”. The proponents of this doctrine forget to tell us that this is not possible without undermining democracy, the independence of individual countries, human freedom, economic prosperity and a chance to eliminate poverty in the world.

I do not believe in any one of these six articles of faith and I am glad not to be alone. There are many natural scientists and also social scientists, especially economists, who do not believe in them either. The problem is that the genuine scientists (or most of them) do science and are not willing to be involved in discussing this doctrine in the public space.

How to make a change? I dare say that science itself will not make it. The Global Warming Doctrine is not based on science. Accordingly, scientific debate itself cannot bring it into disrepute.

I am also afraid that a decisive change cannot come as a result of new empirical data. It is evident that the current temperature data confirm neither the alarmist and apocalyptic views of the believers in the GWD, nor their quasi-scientific hypotheses about the exclusivity of the relationship between CO2 and temperature. As we all know, the statistical data didn´t show a global warming for the 18 years between 1998 and 2015.

Discussing technicalities in more and more depth will not help us either, because the supporters of the global warming doctrine are not interested in them. Their ideas are the ideas of ideologues, not of scientists or climatologists. Data and theories, however sophisticated, will not change their views.

The same is true about the economic dimension of this debate. If somebody wants to reduce if not to eliminate CO2 emissions, he must either expect a revolution in economic efficiency (which determines emissions intensity) or start organizing a world-wide economic decline. Nothing else is possible.

Radically diminishing CO2 emissions has both short-term and long-term consequences. To analyse them requires to pay attention to intertemporal relationships and to look at opportunity costs. It is evident that by assuming a very low, near-zero discount rate the proponents of the global warming doctrine neglect the issue of time and of alternative opportunities. A low discount rate used in global warming models means harming current generations (vis-à-vis future generations). We should not accept claims that by adopting low discount rates we protect the interests of future generations, or that opportunity costs are irrelevant because in the case of global warming the problem of choice does not exist. This uneconomic or perhaps anti-economic way of thinking must never be accepted.

As someone who personally experienced communism, central planning and attempts to organize the whole of society by directives from above, I feel obliged to warn against the arguments and ambitions of the believers in this aggressive environmentalism. Their arguments and ambitions are very similar to those we used to hear when living under Communism.

These dangerous ideas should be resisted. It must be done at the political level. We have to explain it to the common people. The subtitle of my old book was “What is Endangered? Climate or Freedom” (¿Qué está en peligro, el clima o la libertad?). It is evident that the main problem is the lack of freedom, of la Libertad, not the increase in the average global temperature in the 20th century by 0,7 percent Celsius.

Václav Klaus, Speech at the conference I Cena Sobre Medio Ambiente y Libertad, Guatemala, March 13, 2018.

[1] Statement by President of the Czech Republic at the General Debate of the 62nd Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, New York, September 26, 2007. You can find it here: www.klaus.cz/clanky/1109.


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