Vaclav Claus is currently the President of the Czech Republic. Re-elected in 2008, Claus is also a dominant critic of global warming theories. The following is a detailed description of Claus’s involvement in opposing global warming initiatives.
Vaclav Claus on Climate Change
"Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so."
In the simplest form, that sentence summarizes Vaclav Claus’s complete view of climate change theories. A free-market economy enthusiast, Claus claims that global warming theory is simply “ambitious environmentalism” and a “propaganda problem” that threatens “freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity.” Though he admits global warming may exist, Claus has claimed that no substantial evidence exists to suggest that it is man-made or even a problem that requires remedy. Additionally, Claus argues that environmentalism “is more about social than natural sciences and more about man and his freedom than about tenths of a degree Celsius changes in average global temperature.”Claus has even gone so far as to claim that global warming theory could potentially be a political conspiracy, calling it a “modern counterpart of communism" and “a leftist ideology... bringing us socialist government at the global level.
Claus has also challenged the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, calling it a “group of politicized scientists with one-sided opinions and one-sided assignments.” In correlation with this opinion, Claus also advocated for a second IPCC to be created to produce reports challenging global warming.
Additionally, Claus urged the UN to reconsider any and all plans to engage in global warming initiatives, stating that the benefits would be outweighed by the cost to enact such programs.
Unintentionally becoming the leader of the “silent majority” that opposes global warming theories, Claus claims that politicians shy away from challenging global warming because "a whip of political correctness strangles their voices." He, on the other hand, urges those who doubt global warming to speak out as he does stating, "It is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority.”
Becoming internationally recognized as one of the most vocal opponents of global warming initiatives, Claus has utilized various forms of media to voice his opinion. He also wrote his own book on the topic entitled “Modrá, nikoli zelená planeta” roughly meaning "Blue Planet in Green Shackles.” In the text, Claus advocates that global warming theories are dangerous in that they run the risk of destroying global liberty and economic prosperity. Claus also speaks globally at conferences about the global warming “hoax.”
Claus also became a face of a U.S. advertisement campaign run by The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank. The campaign called “Global Warming in Not a Crisis” printed advertisements with the same text as well as others reading, “Freedom, not climate, is at risk.” The campaign pictured politicians such as Claus that publicly oppose Al Gore’s global warming philosophy.
Q&A With Claus
The following questions were posed to Václav Claus in a Question and Answer segment of Financial Times in June of 2007. His answers provide further insight into his views on environmentalism.
Because of the incredible complexity of variables controlling climate, programs based on empirical data cannot predict weather for a fortnight; so how can programs based on far less finite information accurately predict global warming? William Bluhm, Bella Vista, AR
Valclav Claus: This is exactly my argument. It is impossible to seriously predict global weather, not to speak about climate. But my argument is less about eventual variations in global climate. My doubts are mostly about the impact of human activities on global climate. This connection seems to me – after having read hundreds of books, articles and studies – very weak. This weakness is a problem. Because of this weakness, we should not make drastic, far-reaching measures.
Why do you disbelieve the science when every serious national scientific establishment appears to support it? And why do you suppose it to be a threat to freedom when both EU and UK essentially support market mechanisms as the primary policy instrument to deal with it? John Rhys, UK
Vaclav Claus: I do not disbelieve the science, but I see a big difference between science and “national scientific establishments”. To believe in scientific establishment is impossible, this is just another powerful rent-seeking group. Seeking rent for themselves, not for the mankind. You suggest that both the EU and the UK support market mechanisms as the primary policy instrument to deal with climate change. We probably live on a different planet. I don’t see it happening. At a somewhat deeper methodological level, I have to say that market mechanism is nobody’s policy instrument. It reminds me of the old communist days again. The issue was: market or central planning. The central planners, however, wanted to have market – in their hands – as a policy instrument. Do we have to live under communism to understand that?
All that environmentalists demand is responsibility. Responsibility of those who cause damage to others to pay for that damage, and to do their utmost to stop inflicting it. I had the impression that responsibility was supposed to be a conservative virtue, and a necessary complement to the great freedom we have in our open market economies. But more and more I see the supporters of capitalism demand that they be free to dump their waste on their neighbours lawns without consequence. What happened? Nanne Zwagerman
Vaclav Claus: Environmentalists do not demand responsibility. Responsibility is not their idea, it is a basic, elementary aspect of human behaviour – on condition government policies do not give wrong incentives. The idea of responsibility for damage done to others is not the environmentalists’ copyright. It is a standard of human behaviour. Environmentalists – especially in the case of global warming – artificially created “a damage” (higher temperature) and made all of us responsible for it. I don’t believe in this “damage” and I am not ready to pay for it. The role of men in slightly higher global temperature (0.6°C in the last century) is only marginal, if any. To say that “the supporters of capitalism demand that they are free to dump their waste on their neighbours lawns without consequence” has the beauty of communist propaganda I had a chance to “enjoy” during the first 48 years of my life.
What is the financial and/or economic incentive for those governments and organisations who go along with, and even support environmentalism? Justin Kelly
Vaclav Claus: There are huge material (very pecuniary) and even bigger psychological incentives for politicians and their bureaucratic fellow-travellers to support environmentalism. It gives them power. This is exactly what they are searching for. It gives them power to organise, regulate, manipulate the rest of us. There is nothing altruistic in their environmentalist stances.
Why view conservation of energy as an attack on freedom? Do you believe wasting energy strengthens freedom? The US, with only 6 per cent of world population, produces 25 per cent of world CO2 emissions because of government programs encouraging high energy use. Excessive tax subsidies for road building and oil production push energy waste, not the free market. The US political process is dominated by road building and oil interests. I pray that doesn’t happen to the Czech Republic. John Norquist, Chicago, US
Vaclav Claus: Let’s be fair. Attacking environmentalism and its mythology is not attacking nature, the environment we live in, the conservation of energy. It’s a classical spin to do it. To save energy (as anything else) is the only rational behaviour. The more we save, the better. The economy of energy consumption is a must, not to save energy is irrational. The problem is who should make the decision about energy saving or conservation? Free individuals or omnipotent governments? That is the only problem. Free individuals in a free market climate (and only this “climate” is crucial) behave much more rationally than their governments. To say that government programs encourage high energy use in the US is ridiculous. To say that “the US political process is dominated by road building and oil interests” is ridiculous as well. High energy use in the US is caused not by the US government but by the enormous wealth of US citizens (together with specific US natural endowments). The other, abundance-approaching countries will do the same. Wealth is – at the beginning – a problem but when it grows, it is a solution. The so-called Environmental Kuznets Curves demonstrate that quite clearly and convincingly.
There is no doubt that modern human society can adversely impact our living environment. This manifests itself from city air quality and industrial spills to deforestation and overfishing. Overwhelming evidence points to that when human beings find the condition too unpleasant to tolerate, the opportunity to stop or reverse the trend requires extreme action. How much evidence for environmental damage do you need to see before you are willing to advocate collective action in order to prevent the need for later extreme action? Oddi Aasheim, London
Vaclav Claus: You ask how much environmental damage I need to see before I am willing to do anything? My problem is that I do not “see” sufficient and persuasive evidence for environmental damage you have – probably – in mind, and I wonder whether you see it yourself, or whether you just read about it. Do you really “see” any damage caused by current warming? I do not. I would prefer more snow for skiing during this winter but we are – in Central Europe – enjoying warm evenings this May and June, which is very pleasant. Do you see meltdown of glaciers and icebergs? You may see some retreating of continental glaciers, but they represent only 0.6 per cent of the planet’s ice. There is no meltdown either in Greenland or the Antarctic just now. When I study and analyse environmental indicators concerning my own country and when I compare them with the situation in the communist era, there is an incredible improvement. The improvement is not because of “collective action” you advocate (it existed in the communist era), but because of freedom and of free markets. That’s my main message.
"Czech President Challenges UN Global Warming Alarmism - by Tom Swiss - News Releases." The Heartland Institute. Web. 08 Mar. 2011. <http://www.heartland.org/policybot/results/22026/Czech_President_Challenges_UN_Global_Warming_Alarmism.html>.
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"Global Warming: Truth or Propaganda?" Financial Times, June 2007. Web. <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/e9df7200-19c7-11dc-99c5-000b5df10621.html#axzz1FykI4BqT>.
Barillas, Martin. "Czech President: Environmentalism Is a Religion." Spero News. Web. <http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idCategory=33&idsub=128&id=8342>.
"Czech President Derogates UN Global-warming Panel." M&c News, 9 Feb. 2007. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. <http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/article_1261666.php>.
Claus, Vaclav. "FT.com / Comment / Opinion - Freedom, Not Climate, Is at Risk." World Business, Finance, and Political News from the Financial Times - FT.com. Web. 08 Mar. 2011. <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/9deb730a-19ca-11dc-99c5-000b5df10621.html#axzz1FykI4BqT>.
Claus, Valclav. "Notes for the Speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the UN Climate Change Conference." Web. <http://www.un.org/webcast/climatechange/highlevel/2007/pdfs/czechrepublic-eng.pdf>.