Czech president new face of US media campaign

Photo: CTK

Czech president Vaclav Klaus has become the face of a media campaign questioning the impact of global warming. The campaign is run by the free-market think-tank Heartland Institute. It features pictures of Vaclav Klaus and former US vice-president Al Gore under the headline "Global Warming Is No Crisis". It also draws attention to Mr Klaus' speech that is to take place in two week's time at the UN conference on global warming. I spoke to Tom Swiss of the Heartland Institute and started by asking about the campaign's aim.

Photo: CTK
"The ad campaign is focused around the central idea that global warming is not a crisis. We acknowledge that global warming exists and it exists at about one degree per century. Al Gores movie An Inconvenient Truth created a lot of fear and hysteria and we are challenging Al Gore to a debate on a science because his science is very weak."

Why did you choose the Czech president to feature in your campaign?

"President Klaus has been a big defender of freedom. He understands the idea that the big government oppression destroys communities. When government gets in to control something, the entrepreneurial spirit is just killed. President Klaus has understood for a long time that this debate on global warming is bringing the big government back in. We feel that he is a great spokesperson and a real hero. I think the Czech Republic should be really proud to have him as a president."

How many Americans do you think know who Vaclav Klaus is?

"Well the newspaper campaign runs in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Times and they are all for the business leaders of America. So these are the people that are the most highly educated; the upper level executives. I think a significant percentage of them know who Vaclav Klaus is."

Do you think the campaign can affect Americans' view of the Czech Republic?

I hope so. President Klaus is demonstrating some significant leadership on this issue. And in politics, when someone does that, they open themselves up to an amazing amount criticism. I think the American spirit is entrepreneurial and I think they respect a leader that actually stands up for a position and speaks clearly on it. So I think the United States will see that president Klaus is a leader in the position and have a lot of respect for the Czech Republic because of that."

The Czech environmental group Hnuti Duha said earlier this week that the Heartland Institute is sponsored by Exxon Mobile. Is that right?

"No, I don't know where they got that. The ad campaign is supported by business leaders. We have 1,500 individuals that support us. There is no energy producer money spent. In fact all of our donations that come from energy producers are less than a four percent. I would like to challenge them and ask them where they came up with that information because that's not accurate."