Science on Trial?

U.S. Chamber of Commerce demands new Scopes trial

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Things involving climate change are getting decidedly bizarre. The three-million-member U.S. Chamber of Commerce is demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency hold a trial—witnesses, cross-examination, the whole nine yards—to challenge climate science. The Chamber’s purpose is to head off regulations that EPA may adopt based on an upcoming "finding" that CO2 emissions "endanger" human (Americans’ in this case) health.

William Kovacs, a vice president of the Chamber, likened the proposed trial to the infamous Scopes monkey trial, where a Tennessee school teacher was convicted of teaching evolution in contravention of a state law that was later repealed. Kovacs promised a lawsuit should the EPA refuse to hold such a trial.

The Scopes trial was openly a contest between creationism and science, and creationism won when the judge refused to let Scopes’ lawyers present any scientific testimony. The proposed trial would indeed be parallel—antiscience versus real science. It would provide plenty of fodder for Fox News and that side of the street, but whether it would be of any other use, who knows? EPA appears to be resisting the ploy, and it’s hard to understand how a court could be persuaded to order such a trial. The Chamber’s request is here.


Tom Turner literally wrote the books about Earthjustice during his more-than-25 years with the organization. A lifelong resident of Berkeley, CA, he is most passionate about Earthjustice's maiden issue: wilderness preservation.