NEW YORK--Environmentalists--even mainstream environmentalists such as Al Gore--are less concerned about any crisis posed by global warming than they are eager to command human behavior and restrict economic activity, the president of the Czech Republic told the second International Conference on Climate Change here Sunday.
Vaclav Klaus, who also is serving a rotating term as president of the European Union, triggered the approving applause of about 600 attendees as he said, "Their true plans and ambitions: to stop economic development, and return mankind centuries back."
Klaus was one of three presenters Sunday evening as the largest-ever gathering of global warming skeptics kicked off a 2 1/2 day conference confronting the issue, "Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis?' Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, which produced the conference, and Richard Lindzen, a leading meteorologic physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earned prolonged applause with their presentations as well.
But Klaus was the hit of the evening as he declared that the global warming alarmists he has encountered "are interested neither in temperature, carbon dioxide, competing scientific hypotheses and their testing, nor in freedom or markets. They are interested in their businesses and their profits--made with the help of politicians."
While Klaus hit hard at what he called the political rent-seekers, he earned another round of applause as he said alarmists are "not able to explain why the global temperature increased from 1918 to 1940, decreased from 1940 to 1976, increased from 1976 to 1998, and decreased from 1998 to the present, irrespective of the fact that the people have been adding increasing amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere."
Klaus scoffed at politicians who urge radical actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through various schemes, such as taxing current to benefit future generations and being "generously altruistic" in restricting the pace of business activity in their economies.
He declared, "We could have made such far-reaching decisions only on the absolutely unrealistic assumption that we know all relevant parameters of the future economic system."
He concluded to a standing ovation by saying, "It is evident that the environmentalists don't want to change the climate. They want to change our behavior ... to control and manipulate us."
MIT's Lindzen told the audience that global warming alarmists have been encouraged by some scientists who in Lindzen's opinion do credible work on global warming, but who nevertheless endorse global warming because in so doing, it "just make their lives easier."
He said, "The fact that they can make ambiguous or even meaningless statements that can be spun by alarmists, and that the alarming spin leads politicians to increase funding, provides little incentive to complain about the spin."
He cited three scientists by name who fall into this broad category--colleagues Kerry Emanuel and Carl Wunsch, and Wally Broecker.
This politicizing of climatology, he said, "has had an extraordinarily corrupting influence" because the science that attracts funding doesn't deal with climate "but rather with the alleged impact of arbitrarily assumed climate change."
One practical way to counter this trend, he urged, "would be to undermine the authority of scientific organizations" through mass resignations in which "thousands of scientists [would] resign from professional societies that have taken unrepresentative stands on the global warming issue."
Heartland President Bast opened the conference on an optimistic note, declaring that the nearly 700 registrants at the conference and the 80 presenters "demonstrate ... the breadth and high quality of the support that the 'skeptical perspective' on climate change enjoys."
Bast said if the scientific community were persuaded that the consequences of global warming were catastrophic, "perhaps no price would be too high to pay to save the Earth."
But he added that several surveys of scientists show the majority don't believe the Earth is in a global warming crisis or that what warming has occurred was caused by human activity.
"On the question that might matter most," he declared, "climate scientists are perfectly split over whether they know enough about global warming to turn it over to policymakers to take action."
Even among global warming skeptics, agreement is far from conclusive on the severity and causes of global warming, a situation Bast says demonstrates "that it is the skeptics, not the true believers, who are more likely to discover and publicly discuss the true science and economics of climate change."
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