Wednesday, 14 February 2007

A great politician

While Helen Clark was awash in a feel-good sea of sustainability yesterday -- blathering ineffectually about biofuels, climate change and how many trees six government departments are going to plant to save the planet -- another world leader was making much more sense.

Since 1990 (and in distinct contrast to our own unfortunate history in this regard) the Czech Republic has been blessed with two wonderful leaders: first 'velvet revolutionary' Václav Havel -- described by Reason magazine as "our era's George Orwell" -- and now Václav Klaus.

Václav Klaus is not a warmist. Speaking to a Czech economics daily, Klaus deconstructed the IPCC climate panel of the United Nations, and their latest Summary for Policymakers released in Paris earlier this month. Harvard physicist Luboš Motl translates Czech to 'Czenglish':
  • [Questions and answers about European politics are omitted]
  • ...
  • Q: On Wednesday, the European Commission has approved carbon dioxide caps for new cars. One week earlier, the U.N. IPCC climate panel released a report that has described, once again, the global warming as one of the major threats for the whole civilization. The Stern report about similar threats was published before that. And you suddenly say that the global warming is a myth. Try to explain, how did you get this idea, Mr President?
  • A: It's not my idea. Global warming is a myth and I think that every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. IPCC is not a scientific institution: it's a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It's neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are politicized scientists who arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided assignment. Also, it's an undignified slapstick that people don't wait for the full report in May 2007 but instead respond, in such a serious way, to the summary for policymakers where all the "but's" and "if's" are scratched, removed, and replaced by oversimplified theses.
    This is clearly such an incredible failure of so many people, from journalists to politicians... If the European Commission is instantly going to buy such a trick, we have another very good reason to think that the countries themselves, not the Commission, should be deciding about similar issues.

  • Q: How do you explain that there is no other comparably senior statesman in Europe who would advocate this viewpoint? No one else has such strong opinions...
  • A: My opinions about this issue simply are strong. Other top-level politicians do not express their global warming doubts because a whip of political correctness strangles their voice.

  • Q: But you're not a climate scientist. Do you have a sufficient knowledge and enough information?
  • A: Environmentalism as a metaphysical ideology and as a worldview has absolutely nothing to do with natural sciences or with the climate. Sadly, it has nothing to do with social sciences either. Still, it is becoming fashionable and this fact scares me. The second part of the sentence should be: we also have lots of reports, studies, and books of climatologists whose conclusions are diametrally opposite.
    Indeed, I never measure the thickness of ice in Antarctica. I really don't know how to do it, I don't plan to learn it, and I don't pretend to be an expert in such measurements. However, as a scientifically oriented person, I know how to read science reports about these questions, for example about ice in Antarctica. I don't have to be a climate scientist myself to read them. And inside the papers I have read, the conclusions we may see in the media simply don't appear. But let me promise you something: this topic troubles me which is why I started to write an article about it last Christmas. The article grew in size and it became a book. In a couple of months, it will be published. One chapter out of seven will organize my opinions about the climate change.
    Environmentalism and green ideology is something very different from climate science. Various findings and screams of scientists are abused by this ideology.

  • Q: How do you explain that conservative media are skeptical while the left-wing media view the global warming as a done deal?
  • A: It is not quite exactly divided to the left-wingers and right-wingers. Nevertheless it's obvious that environmentalism is a new incarnation of modern leftism.

  • Q: If you look at all these things, even if you were right ...
  • A: ...I am right...

  • Q: ...Isn't there enough empirical evidence and facts we can see with our eyes that imply that Man is demolishing the planet and himself?
  • A: It's such a nonsense that I have probably not heard a bigger nonsense yet.
  • Q: Don't you believe that we're ruining our planet?
  • A: I will pretend that I haven't heard you. Perhaps only Mr Al Gore may be saying something along these lines: a sane person hardly. I don't see any ruining of the planet, I have never seen it, and I don't think that a reasonable and serious person could say that he has. Look: you represent the economic media so I expect a certain economical erudition from you. My book will answer these questions. For example, we know that there exists a huge correlation between the care we give to the environment on one side and the wealth and technological prowess on the other side. It's clear that the poorer the society is, the more brutally it behaves with respect to Nature, and vice versa.
    It's also true that there exist social systems that are damaging Nature - by eliminating private ownership and similar things - much more than the freer societies. These tendencies become important in the long run. They unambiguously imply that today, on February 8th, 2007, Nature is protected incomparably more than on February 8th ten years ago or fifty years ago or one hundred years ago.
    That's why I ask: how can you pronounce the sentence you said? Perhaps if you're unconscious? Or did you mean it as a provocation only? And maybe I am just too naive and I allowed you to provoke me to give you all these answers, am I not? It is more likely that you simply present your honest opinion.
  • ...
  • [Questions and answers about Czech politics omitted]
Oh for similar sense from a NZ politician -- from any side of the aisle!

LINKS: Václav Klaus on global warming - The Reference Frame
Such timidity - DPF
Retirement of a velvet revolutionary - Peter Cresswell, SOLO

RELATED: Global Warming, Politics-World, History-Modern


  1. "Global warming is a myth and I think that every serious person and scientist says so."

    I have no doubt that many of the leading skeptics (Lindzen et al) are 'serious scientists' with serious science backing them. Anyone who suggests that every 'serious' person considers global warming a 'myth' is a nutbar with no respect/understanding for scientific process.

    The whole 'If you question AGW you are loony/If you believe in AGW you are loony' dichotomy is so old, tired, and destructive that I am surprised a world leader should pop up so polarised at one end of the spectrum. The dude should be ashamed of himself.


  2. "The dude should be ashamed of himself."

    I'll make sure he's aware of your views.

  3. "I am surprised a world leader should pop up so polarised at one end of the spectrum."

    I'm not. Because he's not the first or the last to do so for any highly politicized issue. I anticipate more people in the future will do it. Even during this year.

    We should be able to disregard any statement along those lines as irrelevant without a second thought and get down to the dirty business of reconciling evidence. After all, is it relevant to the weight of his arguments that he tars his opposition? Of course not, only evidence and logic matter. We must apply our mastery of logical fallacies, irrelevancies and cognitive biases to all sides or else every mistake we learn makes us stupider.

  4. He sounds like a good leader who isn't willing to screw over his own citizens to make Al Gore or the lefties happy.

    Good on him. Czech politicians have lots to teach the current mob. And people wonder why I am 3/4 of the way to having Czech citizenship!

  5. It's good a world leader is standing up for this sortn of thing. It is a stupid idea to sacrifice our prosperity for the good of the environment-something which would gain nothing if we did so.


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