Marketplace Scratch Pad

Global warming on trial?

Scott Jagow Aug 25, 2009

The country’s main business lobby wants to challenge the science of climate change in “court”. The US Chamber of Commerce is asking the EPA to hold a trial-like public hearing to determine whether man-made global warming is real.

From the LA Times:

Chamber officials say it would be “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” — complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.

“It would be evolution versus creationism,” said William Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs. “It would be the science of climate change on trial.”

The EPA says the hearing would be a waste of time, with a clear motive to prevent emissions limits:

Environmentalists say the chamber’s strategy is an attempt to sow political discord by challenging settled science — and note that in the famed 1925 Scopes trial, which pitted lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan in a courtroom battle over a Tennessee science teacher accused of teaching evolution illegally, the scientists won in the end.

Well, yeah, in the end end. But the scientists did not win the Scopes monkey trial. John Scopes was found guilty of violating state law by teaching evolution. His conviction was overturned on a technicality. By then, he was out of teaching. Years later, Tennessee changed its laws, and the US Supreme Court struck down other anti-evolution laws.

The point being — the EPA obviously believes its scientific case is rock solid but there is no way it wants to get into this tussle. The Chamber says if the EPA refuses to hold the hearing, the Chamber will take its argument to federal court.

So, is this a waste of time? Or would you like to see the arguments presented side-by-side?

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