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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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Environmental heresy

Who's Galileo and who's the pope today?

Unintentionally hilarious juxtaposition of remarks in an article by the climate scientist James Hansen:

This is not the 17th century, when "beliefs" trumped science, forcing Galileo to recant his understanding of the solar system

and

Religions across the spectrum -- Catholics, Jews, Mainline Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelicals -- are united in seeing climate change as a moral and ethical challenge.

In the rest of the article, Hansen makes the quite sensible point that if you want to reduce carbon emissions then the only way to do it is a revenue-neutral, loophole-free carbon tax whose revenues all go straight back to citizens as green dividends.

Update

More Galileo parallels in Daniel Henninger's perceptive piece in the Wall Street Journal (hat tip Bishop Hill):

The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims-plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish-evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition.

For three centuries Galileo has symbolized dissent in science. In our time, most scientists outside this circle have kept silent as their climatologist fellows, helped by the cardinals of the press, mocked and ostracized scientists who questioned this grand theory of global doom. Even a doubter as eminent as Princeton's Freeman Dyson was dismissed as an aging crank.

Henninger's main argument is that scientists do not realise how muhc harm the politicisation of climate science has done to all science, not just climate science:

Science is on the credibility bubble. If it pops, centuries of what we understand to be the role of science go with it.