BOOKS: by Siobhan Reeves (reviewer)News Weekly
BLUE PLANET IN GREEN SHACKLES: What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? by Vaclav Klaus
, October 25, 2008
Scientific integrity in jeopardyBLUE PLANET IN GREEN SHACKLES:
What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?
by Vaclav Klaus
(Washington, DC: Competitive Enterprise Institute)
Paperback: 109 pages
Rec. price: AUD$19.95In this short book, the current President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, delivers an excellent exposé of the discredited theory of human-induced climate change and the threat it poses to our economic liberties. He discusses particularly how media bias misleads the public on this issue.
It is commendable that a man of his public position should be willing to speak out against climate-change alarmists. His work is intelligent, concise and readable, conveying a wealth of statistical information, economic data and media analysis.
Klaus reinforces the point that global temperature changes in the last century have been historically negligible, and that the hypothetical future threats are highly speculative. Moreover, there is no general scientific consensus on this question, as the media would have us believe.Discriminatory
Klaus criticises countries for adopting universal treaties and protocols as a means to tackle climate change. These can be discriminatory when they do not take into account the differing levels of development and wealth in different areas of the world. Developed countries have no right to cripple the economies of underdeveloped nations by imposing inappropriate environmental standards.
It is also of serious concern that environmentalists refuse to consider the technological advances that future generations will make. Theodore Roosevelt, when he became US president in 1901, was already a champion of the environment, yet he did not know the meaning of the words radio, microwaves, laser, virus, penicillin, nuclear energy, computer, antibiotic, ecosystem, gene, neutron, etc. These fundamentals of contemporary society have only been discovered in the last 100 years.
Why have we lost faith in human ingenuity to continue to make technological advances?
Klaus discusses the controversy surrounding Bjorn Lomborg's book, The Sceptical Environmentalist
, published in 2004 by the prestigious Cambridge University Press. The book dealt with the misrepresentation of statistics by environmentalists. Nothing it said was particularly new, but it was fiercely attacked by several academics, presumably because the author is an environmentalist himself, an "insider".
One of Lomborg's severest critics is the discredited ecological activist Paul Ehrlich, who, some decades ago, predicted that, by the 1980s, global overpopulation would lead to the extinction of all sea life, mass famines and US life expectancy shrinking to 42 years. None of this of course has come to pass.
The Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty condemned Lomberg's book, to the delight of environmentalist organisations around the world. But the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation responded by overturning the DCSD's action, thus vindicating Lomberg. However, the media largely ignored the Ministry of Science's pronouncement. As Klaus explains, environmentalists for the most part are no longer concerned with defending scientific integrity.
Klaus outlines his worries that environmental activism is no longer about the noble pursuit of sustainable development or genuine scientific concern for the environment, but rather it is an ideology concerned with manipulation of public opinion and endangering human freedom through excessive state regulation.
Recently, a British court found environmental extremists not guilty of criminal charges brought against them for wilful property damages and vandalism at a coal-fired power plant. Instead, the court found that the activists had a "lawful excuse" because of the hypothetical damage this plant's contribution to "global warming" might cause in the future. This sets a dangerous precedent that Greenpeace and other radical activists are sure to take advantage of.
Klaus, having lived under communism for most of his life, warns: "Ambitious environmentalism... is the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st century. This ideology... wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world."
Environmentalists, he argues, refuse to see beyond their static view of the world. They ignore future technological progress, the well-attested fact that the richer a society is the better quality of environment it can afford, and the natural climate variations of our planet.
Surely, it is disturbing that, as a society, we are willing to spend billions on hypothetical climatic scenarios when we are faced with far more urgent current emergencies such as starvation, disease epidemics, political repression, terrorism and genocide in many areas of the world.
Klaus's work is critical to understanding why the climate-change debate is no longer about controlling the environment, but about controlling people. Perhaps, that is why this book from a president of a former Iron Curtain country is so powerful.
His position is clear: "The world is a complex and complicated system that cannot be organised according to an environmentalist human design without repeating the tragic experience [under communism] of wasting resources, suppressing people's freedom, and destroying the prosperity of the whole human society."