NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 8, 2005

Michael Crichton pointed out in his Commonwealth Club lecture some years ago that environmentalism had become the religion of Western elites. Indeed it has, says James Schlesinger, the first secretary of energy. Most notably, he explains, the burning of fossil fuels (a concomitant of economic growth and rising living standards) is the secular counterpart of man's Original Sin. If only we would repent and sin no more, mankind's actions could end the threat of further global warming.

On the eve of the Gleneagles G8 summit, the Economic Committee of the House of Lords released a report sharply at variance with the prevailing European orthodoxy. Some key points were reported in the Guardian, a London newspaper not hostile to that orthodoxy:

  • The science of climate change leaves "considerable uncertainty" about the future.
  • There are concerns about the objectivity of the international panel of scientists that has led research into climate change.
  • The Kyoto agreement to limit carbon emissions will make little difference and is likely to fail.
  • The United Kingdom's energy and climate policy contains "dubious assumptions" about renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Also, the Committee itself concluded that there are concerns about the objectivity of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process and about IPCC's crucial emissions scenario exercise.

The issue of climate change urgently needs to be brought down from the level of theology to what we actually know. It is, of course, quite likely that the greenhouse effect has to some extent contributed to global warming -- but we simply do not know to what extent. The insistence that global warming is primarily the consequence of human activity leaves scant room for variation in solar intensity or cyclical phenomena generally, says Schlesinger.

Source: James Schlesinger, "The Theology of Global Warming," Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2005; "The Economics of Climate Change," House of Lords, Select Committee on Economic Affairs, Volume 1 Report, July 6, 2005.

For WSJ text (subscription required):,,SB112346586472807229,00.html

For House of Lords report:


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