Saturday, February 07, 2009

Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic

Jay Nordlinger met Klaus in a small group of reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:
Klaus: "I don’t think there is any global warming. I don’t see the statistical data for that.” (Klaus, incidentally, is a professional economist and statistician.) “I don’t believe in the results of the IPCC” (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

When it comes to the climate, “there are competing theories. I’m very sorry that some people, like Al Gore, are not ready to listen to competing theories. I do listen to them.”

Klaus has published a book called Blue Planet in Green Shackles: What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? He tells us that the answer is freedom—freedom is endangered—adding, “I imagine National Review would understand what I mean.” I reply, “Actually, there are differing views about global warming at National Review.”

A different journalist says, “What freedom do you mean? What freedom is endangered?” Klaus points to her and says, “Yours, mine, [turning to the WEF representative] the moderator’s. The freedom of publications like National Review.”

Still another journalist, with high-pitched indignation, says, “Are you saying that Al Gore is threatening freedom?” Klaus answers, “More or less. Environmentalism and the global-warming alarmism are challenging our freedom; Al Gore is an important person in this movement.”

About the financial crisis, Klaus says, “I am more afraid of the ‘reforms’ that will result from the crisis than I am of the crisis itself. I’m afraid that the current crisis will be misused for radically constraining the functioning of the markets and market economies all around the world. I’m afraid of the potential consequences of overactivity by politicians,” as those politicians “try to win votes by pretending that they are coming to the rescue.”

Klaus later says that, as a rule, “it’s difficult to make a good regulation”—a regulation that is helpful rather than harmful.

And a couple of more points about the global-warming debate: There is a difference between believing something and knowing something, he says. Make sure that you make this distinction between “to believe” and “to know.” Knowing, of course, is better than believing. And, at the end of our session, someone asks whether he will attend the big climate-change confab in Copenhagen. He says no. He says he is getting more confrontation-averse, all the time, and doesn’t like to be in full protest or opposition mode. So he will probably send the prime minister instead!

Let me ask you something ... : Is there a world leader you admire more than Václav Klaus?

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