So you go to see your doctor about an ingrown toenail. And the doctor says: "This is bad. We're going to have to amputate your foot above the ankle.
"Do you trust what your doctor says? Or do you ask for a second opinion?
Well, I know what I'd say: "Sounds to me like the remedy is worse than the problem. I mean, an ingrown toenail can be uncomfortable. But does it really justify your crippling me for life?"
"For sure," the doctor might say if he's anything like some of the doctors I know. (One's called Garnaut; one Flannery; and there's one who retired recently called Brown). "We've got to amputate on the precautionary principle. If we don't you might get gangrene."
"Ah, but what's the likelihood of my getting gangrene?" you might ask.
To which Dr Garnaut/Brown/Flannery would no doubt reply: "What are you? Some kind of gangrene denier?"
Perhaps this scenario sounds vaguely familiar. It should because it's just the one Australia is in right now. For "ingrown toenail" read "climate change." For "amputation" read carbon tax. On July 1, you're going to cripple your economy and cause yourselves huge pain for no gain whatsoever.
Even if Australia went further – and did the equivalent of cutting all its arms and legs off and stopped producing carbon dioxide completely – the result would be a decrease in world temperatures of 0.0154C by 2050. So why in heaven's name are you making this futile gesture?
The answer is that the current debate on climate change ("global warming" as it used to be called before the world stopped warming in about 1989) has rather less to do with scientific rationalism and more with the dogma of religious faith.
Wind farms may be expensive, ugly and environmentally damaging but these bird-and bat-chomping eco-crucifixes serve as a powerful symbolic reminder of mankind's determination to save the planet, even at the expense of ruining the landscape.
Carbon taxes and the replacement of bright, warm incandescent light bulbs with flickery, headache-inducing mercury-filled CFL bulbs are the equivalent of the hair shirts medieval penitents used to wear to atone for their sins.
And "deniers" such as myself, Ian Plimer, Bob Carter and Cardinal Pell are, of course, the heretics who have been anathematised, excommunicated and cast into outer darkness by the true believers of the great global eco-religion.
That word "denier" has always struck me as odd, given that not a single sceptic I have ever met denies the reality of "climate change". Climate, after all, has been constantly changing, quite naturally, for all 4500 million or so years of our planet's existence.
It's not climate change we sceptics doubt. What we question is (a) the degree to which it is man-made, (b) the extent to which recent climate change is in any way catastrophic or unprecedented, and (c) whether the measures we are taking to stop it are either helpful or desirable.
The answers to these questions, as current evidence suggests, is (a) a tiny bit but nothing to worry about, (b) no, and (c) hell, no.
Yes, it's true that many computer models tell us otherwise. But computer models are only as good as the data that is fed into them – garbage in, garbage out – and so far the dramatic warming predicted by the modellers has not been borne out by observed reality.
Catastrophic man-made climate change is not a proven threat. It's a massive scam from which many vested interests stand to benefit.
When I gave my new book the subtitle "How environmentalists are ruining the planet, destroying the economy, stealing your jobs" I wasn't exaggerating. Green taxes and regulations really are making us poorer and less free.
That's why, whenever I hear an environmentalist expressing concern for "future generations," I can't help laughing darkly. A poorer, uglier, more taxed and regulated, job-free future is the very last thing our children need.
British journalist and author of Killing The Earth To Save It James Delingpole will be speaking in Sydney at The Centre for Independent Studies today at 6pm.