climate change
Only one senator voted againt the idea that climate change is a hoax Getty

An MIT professor has likened believing in global warming to being in a "cult" and having "fanatical" beliefs.

Professor emeritus Richard Lindzen, a well-known climate change denier, was speaking on a radio show about how he believes there is a religious nature to the belief in global warming.

"As with any cult, once the mythology of the cult begins falling apart, instead of saying, oh, we were wrong, they get more and more fanatical. I think that's what's happening here. Think about it," Breitbart quotes him as saying. "You've led an unpleasant life, you haven't led a very virtuous life, but now you're told, you get absolution if you watch your carbon footprint. It's salvation!"

Lindzen is among the 3% of scientists who do not believe climate change is manmade. He has been widely criticised for his beliefs.

In a critique of one of his seminars in London in 2012, a group of scientists responded to him pointing out the flaws in his arguments.

Appearing at the House of Commons, Lindzen said: "Unfortunately, denial of the facts on the left, has made the public presentation of the science by those promoting alarm much easier. They merely have to defend the trivially true points on the left; declare that it is only a matter of well known physics; and relegate the real basis for alarm to a peripheral footnote – even as they slyly acknowledge that this basis is subject to great uncertainty."

Responding to his presentation, the scientists said: "A pervasive aspect of [Lindzen]'s presentation was the conflation of uncertainty with ignorance; in his view, because we are uncertain about some aspect, we therefore know nothing about it and any estimate of it is mere guesswork. In this way we believe [he] does a disservice to the scientific method, which seeks to develop understanding in the face of inevitable uncertainties in our knowledge of the world in which we live.

"The scientific method has served society well for many hundreds of years, and we see no reason to doubt its validity for trying to quantify the risk of climate change and its impacts on society this century."

sea ice
Scientists are seen during a study of Arctic sea ice in July 2011. There are warning signs that damage to coral reefs and Arctic Sea ice may be irreversible Reuters/NASA

Lindzen has also been linked with Cornwall Alliance, a conservative Christian public policy group. The professor was a signatory on a response to another Evangelical Christian group that had expressed concern over man-made global warming.

In the open letter, the Cornwall Alliance authors argue that God gave humans the stewardship over Earth, so their needs must be in equilibrium with caring for the planet. An argument that is inherently flawed if you are among the (roughly) 70% of the world that does not believe in a Christian God.

"As theologian Wayne Grudem put it, 'It does not seem likely to me that God would set up the world to work in such a way that human beings would eventually destroy the earth by doing such ordinary and morally good and necessary things as breathing, building a fire to cook or keep warm, burning fuel to travel, or using energy for a refrigerator to preserve food'."

Lindzen dismissed recent evidence that showed 2014 was the hottest year on record, saying that Nasa and the NOAA (which made the findings) were "putting spin on nothing".

He said he was fortunate to have gained his tenure before the "climate change movement" as deniers/sceptics are now ostracised in the scientific community. "They use climate to push an agenda. But what do you have left when global warming falls apart? Global normalcy? We have to do something about 'normalcy?'"

His comments come as the US senate voted in a "symbolic" amendment that said climate change was real and "not a hoax", but that it was not caused by humans – a baby step in the right direction, at least.

Urban transportation is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions and accounted for about 2,300 megatons of CO2 in 2010. REUTERS

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) has also now adjusted the Doomsday Clock from five minutes to midnight to three, saying urgent action is needed to prevent an imminent global catastrophe from the continued use of nuclear weapons and unchecked climate change.

"The world will be between 3-8 degrees Celsius warmer by the end of the century. Global emissions rates are now 50% higher than in 1990," Richard Somerville, a member of the BAS' Science and Security Board, said. "Efforts at reducing global emissions of heat-trapping gases have so far been entirely insufficient to prevent unacceptable climate disruption.

"Unless much greater emissions reductions occur very soon, the countries of the world will have emitted enough carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by the end of this century to profoundly transform the Earth's climate."

While there is huge debate around global warming and climate change, the views of Lindzen – and others like him – are dangerous and 97% likely wrong. Unfortunately, they will not be around to see it.

If global warming believers are part of a cult, it's a little ironic that the deniers are the ones signing us up for the world's biggest suicide pact.