Back in 1500, we learn from a Princeton professor, the Aztecs figured the climate debate was over, and that if you wanted rain or sunshine, it was simple enough what you had to do - sacrifice 20,000 lives a year to the right gods.

In 2009, it's an equally sure thing in the minds of some that carbon in the air is going to fry us unless we put the welfare of millions on the line, and here is the latest on President Obama's plan - it could cost industry $2 trillion over eight years.

That hefty sum to be paid out to a cap-and-trade carbon tax would snatch money from consumers far more than rising oil prices did, hinder economic growth and in still other ways generate human misery, and all in the name of what? Computer models that can't get anything right, that's what.

Scientists feed tons of data into these simulating computers, and - given the doomsday theory animating the enterprise - it shouldn't surprise anyone that catastrophic warming is a calculation that then emerges. The problem is that all kinds of stuff is left out because there is a lot we do not know.

"Over the past 10 years there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling," physicist William Happer recently told the Senate. "This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC models," he said, referring to the conclusions of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Happer does not deny that the earth is warming, that increased amounts of carbon dioxide are being pumped into the atmosphere, that there is in fact something you can call a greenhouse effect or that the leveling temperatures of the past decade are still high. He doubts, however, that there's a scientific consensus on a disastrous outcome or that carbon dioxide is the villain it's made out to be.

A professor at Princeton, Happer said "90 percent of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor," and that the issue is whether the carbon dioxide will "substantially increase water's contribution" to causing something awful.

The evidence is that it won't, said Happer, pointing out that "the current warming period began about 1800, at the end of the little ice age," when there wasn't a big increase in carbon dioxide.

It wasn't fossil fuels that did the warming deed - a good deed, by the way - and a war against these energy-producing, societal benefactors would therefore be as futile in controlling climate as slicing open bodies and ripping out hearts.

But what if skeptics like Happer are wrong? If there is a possibility of error, some argue, we should err on the side of safety, and that might be true if a carbon tax was not itself a peril and if it was not clear by now that we are putting global-warming garbage into computers, getting garbage out of them and that some are then treating that garbage like a god.