U.S. Chamber of Commerce pushes for 'Scopes Monkey Trial' of global warming science

Aug 25, 2009 By Jim Tankersley

The nation's largest business lobby wants to put the science of global warming on trial. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a rare public hearing on the scientific evidence of man-made climate change.

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 on trial."

But the EPA is having none of it, calling such a hearing a "waste of time" and saying a threatened lawsuit by the chamber if the request is denied would be "frivolous." EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said the agency based its proposed finding that global warming is a danger to public health "on the soundest peer-reviewed science available, which overwhelmingly indicates that climate change presents a threat to human health and welfare."

The goal of the chamber, which represents 3 million large and small businesses, is to ward off potentially sweeping federal emissions regulations by undercutting the scientific consensus over climate change. If the EPA denies the request, as expected, the chamber plans to take the fight to federal court.

Environmentalists say the 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.

The chamber proposal "brings to mind for me the Salem witch trials, based on myth," said Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist for the environmental group Union of Concerned Scientists. "In this case, it would be ignoring decades of publicly accessible evidence."

In the coming weeks, the EPA is set to formally declare that the heat-trapping gases scientists blame for climate change endanger human health and are thus subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. The so-called "endangerment finding" will be a cornerstone of the Obama administration's plan to set strict new emissions standards on cars and trucks.

The proposed finding has drawn more than 300,000 public comments. Many of them question scientists' projections that rising temperatures will lead to increased mortality rates, harmful pollution and extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

In light of those comments, the chamber will tell the EPA in a filing on Tuesday that a trial-style public hearing -- which is allowed under the law, but nearly unprecedented on this scale -- is the only way to "make a fully informed, transparent decision with scientific integrity based on the actual record of the science."

Most climate scientists agree that greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, are warming the Earth. Using computer models and historical temperature data, those scientists predict the warming will accelerate unless humankind dramatically reduces its greenhouse emissions.

"The need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable," the heads of the top science agencies at 13 of the world's largest countries, including the head of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, wrote in a letter to world leaders last month.

The EPA's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases, as proposed in April, warned that warmer temperatures would lead to "the increased likelihood of more frequent and intense heat waves, more wildfires, degraded air quality, more heavy downpours and flooding, increased drought, greater sea level rise, more intense storms, harm to water resources, harm to agriculture, and harm to wildlife and ecosystems."

Critics of the finding say it's far from certain that warming will cause any harm at all. The Chamber of Commerce cites studies that predict higher temperatures will reduce mortality rates in the United States.
___

(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.
Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at www.chicagotribune.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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User comments : 16

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jcrow
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 26, 2009
I cannot think of any reason not to reduce pollution. The current rate is unacceptable. We breathe so much garbage from car exhaust. How did this become normal? So instead of the business types accepting responsibility and fixing the problem they want to deny reality and wait for the government to crack the whip. Will probably require a "socialist" government handout for tech to filter/reduce pollution when it is perfectly within their means.
JerryPark
3 / 5 (6) Aug 26, 2009
I am glad the Chambers of Commerce is forcing this issue.

It is not about pollution. CO2 is not a pollutant, despite the EPA declaring it a pollutant. It is essential for life as we know it.

The inestimable cost which will be exacted from the U.S. population by this purely political decision is unconscionable.
lengould100
3 / 5 (6) Aug 26, 2009
The goal of the chamber, which represents 3 million large and small businesses,
What a joke. Obviously the goal of the Chamber is to make a last-gasp attempt to resurect a lost cause, anti-AGW.
lengould100
1 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2009
I am glad the Chambers of Commerce is forcing this issue.
,,,
The inestimable cost which will be exacted from the U.S. population by this purely political decision is unconscionable.

How do you figure that cost exactly? Is it the nuclear reactors and solar thermal ($0.035 / kwh if we'd get on the stick now) generation? Is it the electric vehicles and railways substiuting for depleting, costly imported oil? Please provide numbers with references.
Velanarris
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 26, 2009
Regardless of one's stance on AGW if implemented and performed properly with unbiased oversight this would be a phenominal mechanism by which to actually create the consensus both sides speak of.

This would put the issue to rest until further information becomes available. This would reveal the evidence, sans emotionalized propaganda.

I hate to say it, but we need this, however, it has to be done in a neutral and unbiased manner.
brianweymes
1.5 / 5 (4) Aug 26, 2009
I can tell you why this is a bad idea. It is naive. The way it is described is far too narrow. I can see it now: the skeptics will organize and get their familiar dozen or so luminaries to speak in court, and the scientists who agree with the IPCC (more than 2500) will have to restrict their numbers to something similar due to constraints. This will create a false impression that the sides are evenly split and no overwhelming consensus exists.
It's furthermore beyond ignorant to believe a need for something like this exists when the evidence has already been weighed many times before on a far grander scale by far better judges.
defunctdiety
4 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2009
So instead of the business types accepting responsibility and fixing the problem

Get a clue my friend. Every single individual who consumes from our economic system is just as much if not more to blame than business, because they control what they consume. Take responsibility for your life, don't pawn it off on those who facilitate it.

I hate to say it, but we need this, however, it has to be done in a neutral and unbiased manner.

I fear it wouldn't create any consensus, or put anything to rest, and it will almost certainly not be unbiased.
Velanarris
5 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2009
I fear it wouldn't create any consensus, or put anything to rest, and it will almost certainly not be unbiased.
Unfortunately, this is my fear as well.

As for your comment brian, does that mean that class action lawsuits don't work since only 1 lawyer shows up for each side? Use a real argument, not the usual garbage.
mahalo1984
1 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2009
To the JerryPark who declared:

"It is not about pollution. CO2 is not a pollutant, despite the EPA declaring it a pollutant. It is essential for life as we know it."

Nothing is a pollutant in and of itself. A chemical's toxicity is relative to the environment that it is placed in and highly dependent upon the quantity of that element. For instance, to anaerobic bacteria, oxygen is a toxin, while to us it is essential to our well-being. Aspirin in light doses is a helpful medicine for people, in large doses it is poisonous. It is not the chemical composition that determines something a "pollutant" but the way that chemical functions in the system which it is placed in. And whether or not that functioning is disturbed is dependent upon the purpose or teleology that that system is perceived to be driven toward. Nothing is innately a pollutant. It just must be proven to harmful disrupt the functioning of the system it is placed in.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2009
A Scopes type trial on Global Warming.

Remember who won and who lost that trial. Ignorance won and Scopes lost. So I don't think its a good precedence.

Ethelred

Sorry for the new signature. But It Needed Killun.

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.


Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me. Again.
Choice
5 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2009
If we are going to debate something here is the question: Should humanity make the effort, at the lowest cost possible, to keep atmospheric CO2 below a certain level, and, if so, what is that level?
JerryPark
1 / 5 (2) Aug 29, 2009
Choice,



Your question begs another question:



1. Why does anyone want to limit CO2 in the atmosphere?



(The answer, of course, is money, power and redistribution of wealth.)
brianweymes
1 / 5 (2) Aug 29, 2009
I fear it wouldn't create any consensus, or put anything to rest, and it will almost certainly not be unbiased.
Unfortunately, this is my fear as well.



As for your comment brian, does that mean that class action lawsuits don't work since only 1 lawyer shows up for each side? Use a real argument, not the usual garbage.


You're cute aren't you? Class-action lawsuits are different because they do not revolve around the expert scientific testimony of large numbers of those people represented. In that case the large numbers of people involved are the victims only. Even if it worked out in the courtroom and the truth won, I can tell you that the the public would see the open forum differently, much more balanced than it is in the real world.
Gammakozy
3 / 5 (2) Aug 30, 2009
About time somebody challenged the Man-Made Global Warming charlatans. As if their premise was not absurd enough, their proposed solutions are off-the-wall ridiculous. Didn't Al Gore predict virtual destruction of civilization in 10 years about 5 years ago. And what has the temperature done since - absolutely nothing, no change, nada, nyet. I wonder what slippery excuse he is shown to be absolutely WRONG in 5 years, and is exposed as just another cult leader. I predict he will simply set the reset button and make another prediction further down the road. How rich is his company getting from the tree planting carbon trade-off skam?
Ethelred
not rated yet Aug 31, 2009
Didn't Al Gore predict virtual destruction of civilization in 10 years about 5 years ago.


No.

And what has the temperature done since - absolutely nothing, no change, nada, nyet.


Correct, which is intriguing since the Sun is a lower temperature than normal and the world should have a lower temperature instead of the same temperature. If the Sun continues that way then that will be good. If goes back to normal then the temperatures will rise.

Ethelred

Sorry for the new signature. But It Needed Killun.

From QubitTamer's fake profile

Quantum Physicist, torturer of AGW religious zealots like Ethelred because i laugh at his hysterics.


Qubitwit gets the rest of August in my signature for aiming his idiocy at me. Again.
Velanarris
not rated yet Sep 04, 2009
I fear it wouldn't create any consensus, or put anything to rest, and it will almost certainly not be unbiased.
Unfortunately, this is my fear as well.







As for your comment brian, does that mean that class action lawsuits don't work since only 1 lawyer shows up for each side? Use a real argument, not the usual garbage.




You're cute aren't you? Class-action lawsuits are different because they do not revolve around the expert scientific testimony of large numbers of those people represented. In that case the large numbers of people involved are the victims only. Even if it worked out in the courtroom and the truth won, I can tell you that the the public would see the open forum differently, much more balanced than it is in the real world.

So none of the pharmacological lawsuits involved expert testimony of a scientific nature?

Jackass.

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