Some of us have been trying to oppose the irrational, populist and evidently non-scientific climate alarmism for a very long period of time, some of us for years, some even for decades. In my speech here – in Erice – in 2012, I said: “this doctrine, as a set of beliefs, is an ideology, if not a religion. It lives independently on the science of climatology. Its disputes are not about temperature, but are a part of the conflict of ideologies… This doctrine is a loosely connected cascade of arguments, not a monolithic concept which – because of its structure – escapes the scrutiny of science.”
I don´t have any reason to change this seven years´ old statement of mine. It is still valid and reflects the substance of my views on this topic. This year´s hot summer in Europe is not an argument in this respect even though some people believe it is. Something has, however, happened. Not in the nature, but in the society.
The climate alarmists have launched a major offensive presenting and promoting their catastrophic scenarios whereas the silent majority, the normal people with common sense, have found themselves on the defensive. Both parties of this ideological battle reveal well-known characteristics. The setting is simple: radicalism, populism, irrationality, apriorism, shallow arguments, monologues, ideological clichés on one hand, common-sense, the prudent and judicious attitude of adult and mature persons, wisdom, rationality, belief in a dialogue, critical thinking, oversensitivity and scepticism when it comes to fashionable ideologies on the other hand. I am convinced I don’t exaggerate when describing the situation. The dispute is not about temperature, the dispute is about radical change of human society, of our way of life, of our freedom which one side of the debate asks for and is ready to impose upon us.
We are not newcomers to this debate. It seemed to us several times during the past years that the activists of the quasi-religious doctrine of climate alarmism retreated, that they got tired, that they started to respect the untenability of their arguments, that both the scientific theories and the statistical data proved to everyone that the global warming doctrine – based on the simple relationship between man-made CO2 emissions and the global temperature – is almost dead. The lack of seriousness of people like Al Gore, Rajendra Pachauri, Nicolas Stern, etc. seemed proven and became sufficiently evident. It is not. The IPCC doctrine is unfortunately still alive. It is impossible to undermine it by quoting hundreds of articles which challenge “the science is settled” arrogant argumentation of those who aggressively disseminate the IPCC´s climate change alarmism all over the world.
A representative summary of the opposite views is presented by the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change). This organisation issued this year its fifth volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered series with the title “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels”. As the authors themselves stress at the beginning, “it focuses on research overlooked or ignored by the United Nations´ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (p. 1, Summary for Policymakers). They raise many doubts and counterarguments and see many problems especially in the climate models used by the UN community of scientists: “they predict more warming than actually occurred or is likely to occur in the future. They hindcast twice as much warming from 1979 to 2016 as actually occurred” (p. 3). Those are fundamental objections for me, who spent years constructing econometric models, which are similar in their nature to the climate models.
While finalizing this speech of mine, I received an article written by the former official IPCC German reviewer Peter Dietze. In his text, he defends President Trumps´ decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty by arguing that the doubling of CO2 emissions will only lead to the temperature increase of 0.6o C – when all relevant factors, very often ignored by the IPCC, are taken into consideration. There is only one meaningful conclusion for me: science is not settled and making fundamental changes in the world economy and especially in the energy sector now – based on unsettled science – is a childish mistake.
We were, of course, wrong to assume that the climate change activism stops. Now, in the summer of 2019, especially in Europe – in countries like Germany, Sweden or the Czech Republic – we all see very clearly that the old, years prevailing balance between the flow of speeches and articles advocating this alarmist doctrine and those rejecting it has been disrupted. The radical propaganda of the doctrine of climate alarmism has won the debate entirely.
Without any new scientific discoveries, hypotheses or theories, without any new trends showing statistical data, we are the witnesses of a new wave of radical public proclamations of a forthcoming apocalypse. We witness unheard and unbelievable concessions of adult politicians, respected academicians, usually arrogant journalists, self-assured business people to a sixteen-years-old activist. A young and naive Swedish girl teaches the older generations and they pretend to accept it.
High school students all over Europe, including my country, which has been until recently quite skeptical, organize Fridays for Future and don’t attend school. A Czech leader of this movement has announced that he considers it “useless to educate himself for his future because it is not clear if due to climate change any kind of future exists”. I am afraid the irrationality begins to dominate the more or less rational way of thinking which used to prevail in the history of mankind.
The current degree of irrationality is – as a social (and mass) phenomenon – quite new. We who experienced communism remember that we – as school children – used to laugh at the old communist slogan that “we order the wind how to blow and the rain how to fall”. Our teachers, 60-70 years ago, didn’t even try to defend it. They knew that it was a nonsense, just a communist propaganda. Today´s teachers – in the era of political correctness and its oppressive and totally undemocratic methods of blocking “incorrect” views – don’t dare to say anything similar to it or (which is even worse) are themselves supporters of climate change alarmism.
People may be sometimes wrong, the history of science proves it. But in the past the spread of both rational and crazy ideas and ideologies was much slower. The scientists and their fellow travellers did not have internet, facebook and twitter and were not able to establish such a powerful lobbying community as it is now. The political system has never been so open to irrational ideas. We are confronted with a non-spontaneous climate psychosis which is a new phenomenon. It is organized and politically backed these days.
The ideologists of this new religion like using strong words and we have to react in the same way. Otherwise, we wouldn´t be heard. They consider us the deniers of the climate change even though we explicitly base our views on the assumption (proved by historical evidence) that the climate has been changing all the time. We don’t see the current climate (and its change) as something special. They are deniers of climate change. They take the average temperature (and climate) in the first six-seven decades of the last century as a fixed benchmark which we are obliged to follow whatever it costs. This is an ahistoric and unscientific approach.
Looking back and studying the past is important. I agree with Petr Vaníček, a Canadian professor of geophysics at the University of New Brunswick, that “nature has the ability to cause the climate to change much more significantly than anything we have seen in the past 200 years during which mankind´s activity is supposed to have made such a tremendous difference.” This is a rational statement for us, for the climate change believers.
In my presentation here two years ago, I touched upon the issue of “Science in the Age of Post-Democracy”. This political arrangement leads “to the loss of a free exchange of views and of the elementary respect to different opinions, as well as to all kinds of authorities” (p. 2). I argued that the ever-growing number of scientific books and articles which we see around us “conceal a high degree of intellectual conformism (unknown for centuries), the post-modern intellectual monoculture, and even the emergence of a mono-ideological world” (p. 3). I mentioned also “the herd instinct of scientists and their conformism”. Due to it, they very often “help to promote political goals which may not be originally on their agenda” (p. 5). All of that is present in the debate about global warming.
We have to wait for the return of standard, ideologically defined political parties which will – hopefully – initiate a rational political discourse. This discourse can persuade the silent majority that “it is not tenable to assume that the small portion of carbon dioxide in the Earth´s atmosphere (0.04) could be the primary cause and main mover behind the warming since the Little Ice Age” (5, p. 6).
There is a danger, and a high probability, that the politicians will destroy the world as we know it. In her speech in Strasbourg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explicitly stated that she wants “Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.” She wants to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 % in ten years from now, she wants to put forward “a Green Deal for Europe” as well as “the European Climate Law”. These ideas would have been unimaginable even in her own Germany a few years ago and now they can become the substance of the “New EU” under her leadership.
The scientists in Erice (and in the whole world) should speak out before it’s too late.
Presentation at the 52nd Seminar on Planetary Emergencies, World Federation of Scientists, Erice, Italy, August 20, 2019
 Dietze, P., Wie gross ist eigentlich der CO2-Klimaeinfluss?, Fusion, No. 2/2018.
 Vaníček, P., Why I am skeptic when it comes to man-made climate change, IVK, Prague, 2019, forthcoming.
 Klaus, V., Science in the Age of Post-Democracy: A Few Tentative Remarks, Erice, 2017, https://www.klaus.cz/clanky/4153
 Ursula von der Leyen, Opening Statement in the European Parliament Plenary Session, Strasbourg, July 16, 2019.