Former Vice President Al Gore recently declared that man-made global warming is "in part a spiritual crisis." Over at The Nation, redoubtable man-of-the-Left Alexander Cockburn wonders "Is Global Warming a Sin?" Cockburn rather doubts it:
In a couple of hundred years historians will be comparing the frenzies over our supposed human contribution to global warming to the tumults at the latter end of the tenth century as the Christian millennium approached. Then as now, the doomsters identified human sinfulness as the propulsive factor in the planet's rapid downward slide. Then as now, a buoyant market throve on fear. The Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences like checks. The sinners established a line of credit against bad behavior and could go on sinning. Today a world market in "carbon credits" is in formation. Those whose "carbon footprint" is small can sell their surplus carbon credits to others less virtuous than themselves.
The modern trade is as fantastical as the medieval one. There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of carbon dioxide is making any measurable contribution to the world's present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely on unverified, crudely oversimplified models to finger mankind's sinful contribution–and carbon trafficking, just like the old indulgences, is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed.
I believe that the balance of the evidence shows that man-made global warming might be a significant problem for humanity if not properly handled, but it's certainly not part of a "spiritual crisis" nor does it constitute a "sin." It's just an externality, the costs of which now need to be sensibly internalized.