The US Chamber of Commerce has come up with the bizarre idea that we should hold a trial about whether or not climate change is real. Interestingly, they came up with the same analogy I did:
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 thing people forget about the Scopes Monkey Trial is that Scopes and Clarence Darrow lost the case. William Jennings Bryan and the creationists won. In part because the legal issues at hand were not identical to the scientific issues in the creationism versus evolution debate. But mostly because a jury of twelve laypeople is not actually an ideal way of resolving scientific disputes. Which should be pretty obvious.
Of course it’s a bit difficult to know exactly where the irony lies here because what the Chamber wants is basically the equivalent of a creationist victory. Unable to carry the day in an actual scientific research process, they’re trying to transfer the battle to the court of public opinion or to the inappropriate venue of a adversarial trial. And they might win. US public opinion remains, despite the evidence, pretty skeptical of evolution and there’s every reason to think that well-financed and irresponsible elites can, if they so choose, continue to induce public confusion on the climate issue. It’s just, you know, irresponsible of them to do so. You’d think that even the business types who make up the Chamber would have some level of concern for their kids and grandkids.