Have A Little Faith


Climate change is as much a religious issue as a scientific one. Here’s why.


The recent release of hacked e-mails from a leading climate change research unit in Britain confirms what has long been obvious—that climate change is as much a religious issue as a scientific one. There are climate dogmas, climate heretics, warnings of climate apocalypse, climate prohibitions and other features long associated with religion. Leading scientists in the climate debate react to criticism as though they are being attacked by the forces of darkness. Anything, therefore, is permitted in defense of the good.

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Robert H. Nelson is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the latest book, The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America. He is also of Environmental Policy in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University, and he has been Staff Economist for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs; Visiting Senior Fellow, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Member of Economics Staff, Office of Policy Analysis, U.S. Department of the Interior; Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Chairman of Interior Department Task Force on Indian Economic Development; and Staff Economist, Twentieth Century Fund.

  From Robert H. Nelson
THE NEW HOLY WARS: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America
“Economics and environmentalism are types of modern religions.” So says this analysis of the roots of economics and environmentalism and their mutually antagonistic relations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Questions about the proper relationship between human beings and nature have led to the growth of these public theologies, or secular religions, even while both avoid mentioning their derivation from Western Judeo-Christian sources. So while environmentalists regard human actions to warm the climate, expand human populations, and increase economic growth as immoral challenges to the natural order, economists seek to put all of nature to maximum use for the production of more goods and services and other human benefits.