Saturday, July 28, 2007

Václav Klaus: An interview in die Weltwoche

Translated from German

Mr President, climate change is currently a frequently discussed topic. Meanwhile, you state that global warming is a myth of environmental fundamentalists. Why?

Climate change has become a fashionable topic. Many politicians and scientists use it even if they don't believe global warming.

Isn't the current warming a fact?

The facts are not clear. In the last century, the global average temperature only rose by 0.6 degrees Celsius. It is too little to create a panic. Also, it is no secret that the Earth has had much warmer climate in the past than it has today. The second question is whether the recent mild warming is actually caused by human activities. We don't know yet. What I do consider as a threat is this environmentalism that has become a religion that wants to inhibit the spontaneous evolution of mankind. The champions of this ideology want to create a society that is restricted by hundreds of regulations and prohibitions. The freedom would become a victim.

You are an economist, not a climate expert. Where do you find the credentials to be so radical?

My attitude is completely normal. It surprises me again and again that some people see something radical in it. Moreover, the main concern of mine is not climatology. What I care about are the consequences of a potential climate change; an analysis of the human adaptability; a calculation of the costs tightly connected with a fight against the climate change. Humans, their behavior, and their motives are in the center of my interest.

Would you agree with the thesis that the politicians chose the climate because they haven't found another topic that is equally vague and can create consensus equally easily?

It is an obligation for all of us to protect Nature and preserve Nature for future generations. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a sincere interest in the protection of the climate only plays a minor role in the rhetoric of many politicians.

It seems, Mr Klaus, that you deliberately create your image as a defender of the opposite thesis.

I happen to think that the liberty is threatened. And liberty is the main topic of our time and the topic of my life. It seems that one can find a stronger desire to argue and more aggressiveness on the side of my opponents.

Environmental activists argue that the widespread belief in the economic growth is reponsible for climate change. Are they right?

The economic growth is the solution of the environmental problems, not their cause.

Meanwhile, the topic has gained a high priority even in the commercial sector. Everyone asks what his company can do to protect the climate. Many enterprises want to be politically correct. This topic has thus become a convenient political card that they occassionally play with. This card turns out to be profitable, too: the government gives the firms wrong signals - together with subsidies - that influence them more than the desire to be profitable.

Why do you pay so much attention to this topic?

What I already find worrisome is how easily some people are ready to place the world and the mankind on a new basis because of some disputed data and hypotheses; how they predict what is happening in the world and what will happen in the future; and how they want to impose completely extreme regulations and, concomitantly with it, a delimitation of the liberty. That's neither a marginal footnote topic for me nor a deliberate attempt of mine to become visible.

You have written an environmental book. What else do you have to tell the world?

What concerns me are not measurements of temperatures even though they naturally play a role. What I care about more is whether humans partially cause the climate change and whether this influence is strong enough to justify the prevailing hysteria. What I am concerned with is whether the society is going to change its structure and spend enormous amounts of money whose positive or perhaps negative effects will only be visible in the next century.

Die Weltwoche (The World Week), 07/26/2007

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