U.S. chamber wants Scopes trial on climate change

August 25, 2009

The biggest business lobby in the United States wants to hold a public hearing “to put the science of global warming on trial,” The Los Angeles Times reports.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to drive back major emission limits, wants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold the hearing on evidence that climate change is man-made.

“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,” the newspaper reported.

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

The EPA told the Times that a hearing would be “a waste of time” and called a lawsuit by the chamber “frivolous.”

“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.'”

But if the EPA refuses to hold the hearing, the chamber is threatening to take the fight to federal court.

That would bring a modern replay of the famous 1925 Scopes trial. Then three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and attorney Clarence Darrow fought a courtroom battle over the case of a Tennessee teacher accused of teaching scientist illegally.

The teacher John Scopes, who purposefully tested the Tennessee law, was found guilty in the trial, a verdict that was upheld on appeal.

But, as the LA Times points out — and as many elementary students can attest — the scientists eventually won out in the end and evolution is taught in schools across the country.

(Writing by Laura Isensee)

Photo Credit: Reuters/Daniel Munoz (A woman holds a sign during a protest on climate change in central Sydney)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The US Chamber of Commerce seems to be doing everything it can to reinforce the public perception that corporations in America are out of touch with reality.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

A worthwhile subject might be “can humans take any action to thwart rising temperatures”. Shouldn’t we be asking what we humans can do to avoid widespread disaster rather than proclaiming our innocence? Who will pay for the trial? Is the Chamber willing to pick up the tab if they lose? Who will appoint a judge? More importantly, will the side that loses accept the decision?

Before embarking on a trial, I would first be interested in all the science that the Chamber has refuting the trend in global climate change.

Posted by Dan Pinson | Report as abusive

This proves the USCC is the George Bush of economics…as stupid as a box of hair…

Posted by Kurtisle | Report as abusive

unbelievable !….this must be a hoax!!

Posted by howard straw | Report as abusive

The truth is, the whole climate change lobby reminds me of the Salem witch trials – it’s mob rule, and those that don’t agree, of course, must be witches. Frankly, if this climate change frenzy continues, future generations are going to look back on this one the same way we look at those who tried people as witches back then. Dan, there are dozens of books and articles out there refuting all the climate change politics posing as science. You have to get out of your comfort zone to find them, however, because the mainstream media doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good crisis.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

Ahhh, yes, and now it comes. The eco-psychotics don’t want their pseudo-science to go on trial, for fear that their “facts” might be deemed less-than-worthy. These are the same pseudo-scientists that had the unmitigated gall to claim that the sun has no effect on the Earth’s climate. Seriously? Did someone fail eighth grade science class?

Wake up, people. Mankind is not that powerful. Mother Nature has ways of counter-acting our follies. We’re not going to destroy the Earth. It’ll be here long after we’re a happy memory for some alien archaeologists to wonder over.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

I also happen to love the fact that, since it’s been proven that the planet isn’t actually [i]warming[/i], the ecoclowns have backpedalled and renamed their religion “global climate change”.

Hey guys, ever hear the idea that climate change is something natural that runs in cycles? The Aztecs and Mayans knew about it. So did the Egyptians. Oh, how far we have come from those “backward” societies.

Posted by Brian Again | Report as abusive

This is the republicians oppertunity to bring out their Brown Shirt mobs to disrupt any discussion .
It will not be a a trial it will be a circus of science and corprate thugs.
this will never work in 21st century america.

Posted by jake | Report as abusive


Posted by John | Report as abusive

There have been more that 600 episodes of significant “global warming” in the last million years alone. Maybe man caused this one but what caused the other 599? This whole thing is a ruse. The left was discredited when it was shown that they could not generate prosperity when the ran the economy so now they are trying a new scam to “save the planet” from a normal solar-driven cyclical phenomenon that peaked a decade ago.

Posted by student1776 | Report as abusive

Well things need to be improved for sure

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive

Brian wrote:
# “Mother Nature has ways of counter-acting our follies.”

This is an example of the fantasy-based idealism that has allowed the corporations to clearcut, mine, drill-spill-and-kill the country into a bankrupt toxic wasteland.

Posted by Moe Badderman | Report as abusive

It REALLY could only happen in America!

Posted by T Bareham | Report as abusive

At the least it would entertaining, at the most educational. I say go for it.

Posted by TJ | Report as abusive

As an practicing engineer I like to see all the aspects of the problem and solutions. We have been deluged with scientific junk science and I liken this to the asbestoes scare. Yes we has a problem with asbestoes, but only one type. Lets air the facts and let the people decide rather than let a few scientists decide. I want a voice also rather than to be shouted down.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

Scary. I have two words for the chamber: polar cities. And watch for the self-immolation protest soon outside UN bldg by climate activists setting themselves afire. Email me for info on this. It will happen. Self-immolation climate protest. In front of UN building. Before Copenhagen.

Posted by danny bloom | Report as abusive

The real focus of attention needs to be placed squarely at the feet of big business, the movers and shakers. The same corporations that killed Bill Clinton’s efforts to provide health care for the un-insured, the same corporations that developed Terminator seed to control the human food chain. These are the faceless ‘organisations’ that could impact the global climate change scene for the better and make a massive impact if only they would. Read more at http://www.carbongoodguys.com

Posted by David Goliath | Report as abusive

[…] said that the chamber was sorry for the “Scopes monkey trial” analogy raised by a chamber representative this summer in conversations with the media — in which the representative, William Kovacs, vowed […]

Posted by Defiant Chamber Chief Says ‘Bring ‘Em On’ – Green Inc. Blog – NYTimes.com | Report as abusive

Businesses rely on you, the consumer to buy their products and services to survive, prosper,develop and expand. Therefore you are the key to reversing climate change. If you care enough to question who sells you your products or services and vote with your feet, big business will be forced to move with you. In the old days, you did not expect the milk man to deliver your milk and then trample over your tulips on the way out, so today we don’t expect companies to make profits at the cost of the environment that we and our children live in. Big business needs to change in its own sector, as we all do, and every little reverses climate change.

Posted by GBaby | Report as abusive