Czech president Vaclav Klaus, an economist by profession, is preparing to do battle with environmentalists. In his latest book called "Our Planet is Blue - Not Green", which is to be released shortly, the president challenges the conclusions reached by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change namely that climate change is caused by human activity. The president on Wednesday presented his views to students at the Prague School of Economics, where he argued that environmentalists were not only misleading society - they were actually a threat to further development.
In its 2007 report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the temperature on Earth could increase by up to six degrees Celsius by 2100 unless effective action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Now few governments like hearing the fact that they must do more for the environment, but in Prague President Klaus is not just disgruntled - he is downright disbelieving. The president sees the threat of global warming as a myth created by "ambitious fundamentalist environmentalists".
"My conclusions are that environmentalists over-estimate the risks of global warming and I fear that they do this intentionally" the president told students, arguing that what is at threat today is not the climate at all, but freedom. The president urged economists not to let environmentalists "break into" their field of expertise and he called on politicians not to abandon the principles of free society under their influence. The views of economists on climate change had not been heard - and they were of immense importance, Mr. Klaus said. His new book is about to correct the omission. Asked what he thought about the oil crisis, the president said that thanks to human inventiveness and progress natural resources were increasing rather than dwindling because man would always come up with new possibilities. And as for global warming, Mr. Klaus told students "I would advise you not to sell your skis just yet".
What kind of impact Mr. Klaus's new book will have remains to be seen - but even now there are many who take his words with a grain of salt - and they are not all Greens. Political analyst Bohumil Dolezal:
"Whenever I hear Vaclav Klaus talk about global warming I get the feeling that not only is it not happening - but that it has been banned as such because it could harm capitalism."
Artur Runge Metzger from the European Commission who recently chaired an international conference on global warming in Prague, says that with due respect to the Czech president, he is more inclined to believe the IPCC.
"I think that all governments around the world are very conscious of the fact that you need to base your political decision-making on scientific facts and that is the reason that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was put into place -where you have a couple of thousand scientists going through all the scientific evidence, through all the articles that have been written in order to come up with very clear conclusions and I think that these clear conclusions run counter to Mr. Klaus' views."