U.S. Chamber of Commerce Seeks 'Scopes Trial' For Climate Science


Clarence Darrow, defense attorney in the Scopes evolution case, and William Jennings Bryan, associated prosecuting counsel.

Doubt is a powerful thing. Once it takes hold, ideas and facts long accepted as gospel become as hazy as Hong Kong's skyline on a hot summer's day. This has played out in the recent health insurance debate, where interest groups have convinced some Americans that Medicare is not government provided health care and that "death panels" will decide who lives and who dies. Now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is using confusion to throw dust in the eyes of Americans as the Senate moves toward a debate on climate change legislation and the EPA prepares to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.The nation's largest business group is asking the EPA to hold public hearings on the science of climate change. The Chamber filed a 21-page petition with EPA today, asking it to approve hearings so the nation can have a "credible weighing" of the scientific documentation that global warming endangers human health.

Bill Kovacs, the chamber's vice president for environment, a misnomer if there ever was one, said that the hearings would be a modern day "Scopes Monkey Trial," the 1925 trial that put evolution on trial.

The Chamber of Commerce's move comes after the outing of corporate backing of fake rallies designed to prop up the world's dirtiest industries--oil and coal. The American Petroleum Institute is sponsoring "Energy Citizen" rallies across the nation designed to sow doubt over climate science.

It's difficult to view the Chamber's move with anything but utter contempt. While some businesses have come together to support climate action, many still want to confuse the American public while the world's most respected climate scientists are ringing the alarm about climate catastrophe. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 assessment finds that global average temperature increase during the next 100 years could be at 2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius, with the best case scenario being a rise of estimate of 3 degrees. Such a rise would lead to massive drought, floods, migrations, and storms.

How the Chamber of Commerce can view those effects as not a threat to human health is anyone's guess.

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