Vaclav Klaus says We are living in strange times. One exceptionally warm winter is enough – irrespective of the fact that in the course of the 20th century the global temperature increased only by 0.6 per cent – for the environmentalists and their followers to suggest radical measures to do something about the weather, and to do it right now. and for good measure goes on to quote the egregious Crichton. He’s said it before, of course.
[Thanks (?) to Lubos for pointing this post out]
He goes on As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. I think he is utterly wrong – environmentalism simply isn’t that powerful. Most likely, now he doesn’t have communism to ar oppose, he needs another convenient enemy.
But leaving the knockabout stuff aside, what exactly does VK think about Climate change? Assuming that “0.6 per cent” is his – or a copyeditors – error for “0.6 oC” he has the T change about right, so he isn’t in the “GW isn’t happening camp”. Alas, reading the rest I can’t tell whether he is a “GW is happening but its tiny/not our fault” or “it won’t get worse in the future” or a “it will get worse but we’ll cope”.
If he wants to be taken seriously over this he should be able to put forward a coherent scientific viewpoint (or get his people to do it for him). Does he have a forecast for the next 50 years? He really has very little scientific content at all, the closest seems to be Does it make any sense to speak about warming of the Earth when we see it in the context of the evolution of our planet over hundreds of millions of years? Every child is taught at school about temperature variations, about the ice ages, about the much warmer climate in the Middle Ages which is just std.silliness (would you use that to argue that a return to ice-age temperatures would be no trouble?).
He sez: Due to advances in technology, increases in disposable wealth, the rationality of institutions and the ability of countries to organise themselves, the adaptability of human society has been radically increased. It will continue to increase and will solve any potential consequences of mild climate changes. which is all very well, but what exactly is a “mild” change; are we expecting that or something worse?
VK ends with some suggestions:
Small climate changes do not demand far-reaching restrictive measures – OK, I have no problem with that. But since he has wimped out of saying what changes he expects in the future, and if (for example) 3 oC is small or not, this statement may well be meaningless
Any suppression of freedom and democracy should be avoided – sounds great, but of course he doesn’t believe it, or he wouldn’t run a police force or pass laws. He needs a basic intro to politics, and I recommend Leviathan, a wonderful book, if not taken too literally.
Instead of organising people from above, let us allow everyone to live as he wants – see above.
Let us resist the politicisation of science and oppose the term “scientific consensus”, which is always achieved only by a loud minority, never by a silent majority – I’m all against politicisation of science. But we should accept that some areas of science are indeed agreed on.
Instead of speaking about “the environment”, let us be attentive to it in our personal behaviour – “think global, act local” perhaps?
Let us be humble but confident in the spontaneous evolution of human society. Let us trust its rationality and not try to slow it down or divert it in any direction – history suggests that trusting in human rationality is not a good idea. OTOH I’m all for free markets.
Let us not scare ourselves with catastrophic forecasts, or use them to defend and promote irrational interventions in human lives. – Irrational interventions are obviously not a good idea. leaving that aside, suppose I was to go back in time to just before Czech got rolled over by the Russians and say to him “Hey, its going to be really grim for the next few decades – arguably, catastrophically so”. Should he reply as above? Whether you are scared be the forecast has to depend on whether its likely or not. He has presented no arguments at all on the *science*.
All in all, I’m still waiting for (I think he promised this at some point) his version of expected climate change (which can have a range, of course). I think it would be nice if he could say which bits of the IPCC WGI report (or just the SPM, he’s a busy man) he disagrees with.