Bret Stephens, formerly of the Wall Street Journal, has become the latest token conservative at the New York Times editorial page. He devoted his first column to the trying issue of climate change and, to judge the reaction of some, he had become the equivalent of a Roman Catholic cardinal denying the divinity of Christ. Or maybe he’s an Iman who thinks that Islamic countries ought to stop oppressing women and killing gay people. In any case, he suggests that the idea of human-caused climate change is valid but maybe it is not so severe a problem that all of society needs to be upended.

Naturally, the reaction by some in the climate change community, including Susan Matthews at Slate, is “Burn the heretic! Purge the denier!” Ironically, Matthews and other climate change acolytes made Stephens’ point for him.

Stephens made the mild point that the average temperature of the planet has risen marginally in the past 130 years. He also accepts the notion that human activity may have some effect on the increase. He then went on to caution that the pronouncements of some (not all and certainly not 97 percent) in the climate change community that the phenomenon is a clear and present danger to all life on the planet and must be dealt with now with the most draconian measures, even if it adversely affects everyone in the world should be taken with a grain of salt.

Matthews is sure that Stephens is crazy, but offers no evidence to support that supposition beyond the bromides of the science is settled, the science says, and so on. She is prudent to do so. Delving into the actual data, the computer models, and how they are being interpreted and massaged to fit the over-all dogma of climate change is a little hard, even for Slate’s science editor.

Discussing sound public policy concerning energy production can also lead to a lot of yelling. The most often advocated policy consists of clamping down on fossil fuels with draconian taxation and regulation and mandating the development of renewable energy. The practical effect of such measures would be to significantly increase the cost of energy, pauperizing the middle and working classes in the developed world and consigning the developing countries to eternal squalor and misery.

Sound and prudent public policy might consist of encouraging promising carbon capture technologies that turn CO2 into useful products, such as fuel. Energy policy might throw more money into fusion power, which if it ever became a reality would revolutionize the way we generate electricity. The advantage of fusion over solar and wind is that it works at night, in inclement weather, and when the winds are calm.

The problem with the climate change community is that it is prone to hysteria. Most people are turned off by such behavior and will refuse to listen to such people. Individuals who think climate change is a problem would do well to hear Bret Stephens rather than call for his beheading.