A growing contingent of scientists has been brave enough to stand athwart the politically fashionable global warming steamroller. More than 500 such skeptics convened in New York at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change last month. They argue factually and persuasively that what warming the world has seen in the last hundred years is at best minimal and at worst exaggerated.

Conversely, radical increases in global temperatures or rising sea levels proclaimed by Al Gore and his ilk aren't facts. They're merely guesses, some of them hysterical, about conditions decades or centuries into the future and based on assumptions about innumerable variables, many of which are beyond our scientific comprehension and expertise.

Climate change is a natural and age-old phenomenon on this planet recurring in roughly 1,500-year cycles and predating humanity by millions of years. Ice ages have come and gone. Compared to the overwhelming influence of the sun and the impact of nonhuman influences on this planet - ocean-generated water vapor, animal life, vegetation, etc. - the notion that the puny contribution of mankind is the principal cause of climate change is a grand conceit.

Human activity constitutes a small fraction of the myriad influences on climate. Marginal changes in human activity within our technological and practical economic means represent an even smaller fraction of that small fraction. The trillions of dollars the world would spend on wasteful schemes to avert a delusional global warming doomsday may be the greatest fool's errand in history. Count me among the global warming skeptics. If I'm still around in a hundred years, I'll delight in saying, "I told you so."

Global warming hysteria is steeped in politics and a strange collection of bedfellows. Along with sincere environmentalist true-believers are the camp followers who embrace this as a quasi-religious calling.

Then there are the watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside. They embrace ecological arguments to achieve ideological goals, exploiting fears of enviro-Armageddon to regulate and control evil capitalists and redistribute world income and wealth. Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, recognizes the signs. "As someone who lived under communism for most of (my) life," he warned, "I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning."

Add to this mix, political opportunists seeking election and economic opportunists seeking a quick buck from government grants, subsidies and market manipulation, and you have an irresistible coalition.

In this time of runaway oil prices and surging world demand for energy, of course it's only sensible to marshal creative technological resources and capital to use energy, from whatever source, as efficiently as possible. That's precisely why government-driven boondoggles like ethanol are worse than wasteful, especially as this misallocation of agricultural resources has driven up the world price of foodstuffs. Justifying a wrongheaded policy by simply asserting it's "for the environment" is just as stupid as justifying a wasteful government-spending program with the magic words "It's for the children."

It's currently fashionable for politicians to brag about their policies for a "new energy economy" and the jobs created by it. Economically productive energy programs are wonderful. Just spending taxpayer money for humbug isn't. The market is a much better judge and taskmaster than government for what makes economic sense. Imagine your tax dollars at work hiring 10,000 people to generate turbine electricity by climbing a perpetual wheel like a hamster in cage. Wouldn't that be a great way to create jobs in a new energy economy?

I've got a better idea. While we're waiting for the breakthrough in hydrogen fusion technology that will make water a cheap and plentiful energy source, why not put Americans to work developing our known natural gas and petroleum resources offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?