GREEN
04/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Climate Deniers Gather In Times Square

This week, more than 600 people have gathered in New York for the International Conference on Climate Change. But it may not be what you think -- it's a conference organized by the conservative Heartland Institute, which doesn't believe in climate change.

It comes on the heels of a gathering of some 12,000 young climate activists -- who favor action to stop climate change -- in Washington, DC.

This year's conference has its high points and its low points for organizers. Among the high points is one of its special guests -- the president of the Czech Republic.

Conference organisers were celebrating something of a coup in securing as a keynote speaker the Czech president, Václav Klaus, at a time when his country holds the rotating presidency of the EU. Klaus, a Eurosceptic, believes that efforts to protect the world from the impact of climate change are an assault on freedom.

In his remarks last night, Klaus accused European governments of being "alarmist" on the subject of climate change and in thrall to radical environmentalists.

"They probably do not want to reveal their true plans and ambitions to stop economic development and return mankind several centuries back," he said.

But Klaus and the others at the conference are being abandoned and questioned by others who only last year would have stood beside them. The New York Times' Andrew Revkin points out a wide variety of reasons that the conference is a bit weaker than usual, including the fact that not even Exxon wants to sponsor it now:

But two years after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with near certainty that most of the recent warming was a result of human influences, global warming's skeptics are showing signs of internal rifts and weakening support.

The meeting participants hold a wide range of views of climate science. Some concede that humans probably contribute to global warming but they argue that the shift in temperatures poses no urgent risk. Others attribute the warming, along with cooler temperatures in recent years, to solar changes or ocean cycles.

But large corporations like Exxon Mobil, which in the past financed the Heartland Institute and other groups that challenged the climate consensus, have reduced support. Many such companies no longer dispute that the greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels pose risks.