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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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All the trappings

Nicely put by Michael Barone:

...A similar but more peaceable fate is befalling believers in what I think can be called the religion of the global warming alarmists.

They have an unshakeable faith that manmade carbon emissions will produce a hotter climate, causing multiple natural disasters. Their insistence that we can be absolutely certain this will come to pass is based not on science -- which is never fully settled, witness the recent experiments that may undermine Albert Einstein's theory of relativity -- but on something very much like religious faith.

All the trappings of religion are there. Original sin: Mankind is responsible for these prophesied disasters, especially those slobs who live on suburban cul-de-sacs and drive their SUVs to strip malls and tacky chain restaurants.

The need for atonement and repentance: We must impose a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, which will increase the cost of everything and stunt economic growth.

Ritual, from the annual Earth Day to weekly recycling.

Indulgences, like those Martin Luther railed against: private jet-fliers like Al Gore and sitcom heiress Laurie David can buy carbon offsets to compensate for their carbon-emitting sins.

Corporate elitists, like General Electric's Jeff Immelt, profess to share this faith, just as cynical Venetian merchants and prim Victorian bankers gave lip service to the religious enthusiasms of their days. Bad for business not to. And if you're clever, you can figure out how to make money off it.