Czech leader rouses climate skeptics
March 6, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
NEW YORK -- Forget global warming. A lot of the people at this climate conference — headlined by the self-described "politically incorrect" Czech president — wanted to talk about global cooling.
More than 500 people from 23 countries, including some 100 scientists, attended a three-day climate conference that ended Tuesday in New York and was organized by Chicago-based Heartland Institute.
"Some of the scientists here believe we are entering into a cooling period, and that's just based on well-known solar cycles," said Heartland's president, Joseph Bast. He said the conference showed that, despite what "Al Gore and a bunch of other people" might say, there is no scientific consensus on global warming.
Environmentalists, however, criticized Heartland as unscientific and questioned its partial funding by the oil industry.
"The absence of peer-reviewed science in what they've been putting forward is notable," said Annie Petsonk, a lawyer for the advocacy group Environmental Defense. "The politics and the science have moved well beyond where the skeptics are."
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore shared last year's Nobel Peace Price with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a network of 2,000 climate and other scientists from the majority of the world's nations, for their work raising awareness of global warming. They say carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is accumulating in the atmosphere and holding in the earth's warmth.
The panel forecasts that, as early as 2020, 75 million to 250 million people in Africa will suffer water shortages, Asia's megacities will be at great risk from coastal and river flooding, Europeans can expect extensive species loss, and North Americans will experience longer and hotter heat waves.
That was hardly the view of the Czech Republic's President Vaclav Klaus, who will be inaugurated on Friday for his second five-year term.
"Climate is just a joke," Klaus told The Associated Press. Instead of worrying about global warming, he said, people should just go about their business and realize that any warming is part of a natural process.
"I am afraid that global warming alarmists are trying to kill the freedom of people and prosperity," said Klaus, whose country has signed on to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol requiring industrial nations to reduce greenhouse gases by 2012.