by Vaclav Klaus
2008 International Conference on Climate Change, New York, March 4, 2008.
A week ago, I gave a speech at an official gathering at the Prague Castle commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1948 communist putsch in the former Czechoslovakia.
My argument, quoted in all leading newspapers, went as follows:
“Future dangers will not come from the same source. The ideology will be different. Its essence will, nevertheless, be identical — the attractive, pathetic, at first sight noble idea that transcends the individual in the name of the common good, and the enormous self-confidence on the side of its proponents about their right to sacrifice the man and his freedom in order to make this idea reality.”
I had in mind environmentalism and its current strongest version, climate alarmism.
The insurmountable problem as I see it lies in the political populism of its exponents and in their unwillingness to listen to arguments.
They — in spite of their public roles — maximize their own private utility function where utility is not any public good but their own private good — power, prestige, carrier, income, etc.
I am afraid there are people who want to stop the economic growth, the rise in the standard of living (though not their own) and the ability of man to use the expanding wealth, science and technology for solving the actual pressing problems of mankind, especially of the developing countries.
I am also afraid the same people, imprisoned in the Malthusian tenets and in their own megalomaniac ambitions, want to regulate and constrain the demographic development, which is something only the totalitarian regimes have until now dared to think about or experiment with. Without resisting it we would find ourselves on the slippery “road to serfdom.”
What I see in Europe (and in the U.S. and other countries as well) is a powerful combination of irresponsibility, wishful thinking, implicit believing in some Malthusianism, cynical approach of those who are sufficiently well-off, combined with the strong belief in changing economic nature through a radical political project.
This brings me to politics.
As a politician who personally experienced communist central planning of all kinds of human activities, I feel obliged to bring back the already almost forgotten arguments used in the famous plan-versus-market debate in the 1930s in economic theory (between Mises and Hayek on the one side and Lange and Lerner on the other), the arguments we had been using for decades — till the moment of the fall of communism. Then they were quickly forgotten.
The innocence with which climate alarmists and their fellow-travelers in politics and media now present and justify their ambitions to mastermind human society belongs to the same “fatal conceit.”
To my great despair, this is not sufficiently challenged neither in the field of social sciences, nor in the field of climatology. Especially the social sciences are suspiciously silent.
Václav Klaus is president and former prime minister of the Czech Republic. Born in 1941, he grew up under communist totalitarianism. He knows well the methods used to curtail liberty and freedom of speech. He has written over 20 books, including one on the dangers of ‘environmentalism’, Blue Planet in Green Shackles.