Can Science Go On Trial?

The US Chamber of Commerce wants to take the US EPA to court over Global Warming. I personally sympathize. I see the idea as a disaster in the making for the EPA. The LA Times offers details below.

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 for 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 climate change on trial.”

Predictably, the EPA blows the CofC off and calls the proposed lawsuit frivolous. They stated that they find Global Warming detrimental to human welfare on the basis of the soundest science currently in hand.

The EPA is having none of it, calling a hearing a “waste of time” and saying that a threatened lawsuit by the chamber 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.”

Environmental Political Action Groups predictably ridicule the Chamber of Commerce and impugn their logic and motivations. Familiar spin follows below.

Environmentalists say the chamber’s 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 in the end.

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.”

To understand why the Chamber of Commerce would attempt this, requires a comprehension of both recent past history and current events. The history comes from back in the halcyon days of 2006. The Democrats were measuring out office space in preparation for what would be the first of two major electoral victories for their side.

They prepared to take charge without any viable agenda other than ending the Iraq War – which they had no real intention of ever doing. Thus, their traditional interest groups picked up the slack and started writing that agenda on their behalf.

Environmental activists sensed that their day had finally arrived and that they could now impose virtually any legislative dog’s breakfast on the peasants they so desired. One of the more obvious signs of their hubris-intoxicated enstupidation was a suggestion from David Roberts of Grist Magazine.

Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”

Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

Are there any deniers in the theatre tonight? Get ‘em up against the wall!

As time went on, and “Global Warming” became “Climate Change”, and the BTU-Tax morphed into Cap and Trade. The science became less and less “settled.” The US Chamber of Commerce now deems turnabout to be fair play. Therefore, they aggressively want to hold a trial to determine the scientific accuracy of Global Warming.

Yet, the Chamber of Commerce does not entirely do this out of a desire for revenge. On 24 April, 2009, the US EPA issued a ruling entitled “Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act; Proposed Rule.” This ruling would allow the EPA to regulate a specific number of Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act, and thereby place limits on their emissions. A summary of the summary of the ruling follows below.

Concentrations of greenhouse gases are at unprecedented levels compared to the recent and distant past. These high atmospheric levels are the unambiguous result of human emissions, and are very likely the cause of the observed increase in average temperatures and other climatic changes. The effects of climate change observed to date and projected to occur in the future—including but not limited 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—are effects on public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.

At the end of further disingenuous blather, the regulatory emission recognizes six particular classes of GHG that are singled out for regulation.

She (EPA Director Carol Browning) proposes to make this finding specifically with respect to six greenhouse gases that together constitute the root of the climate change problem: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

In conclusion, the regulation proposes to use this finding to justify controlling the allowable content of auto exhaust. The situation seems innocuous. The government has always been moving towards a crack-down on auto emissions in hopes of curbing urban smog problems in Houston, Los Angeles and numerous other SMSAs.

The Chamber of Commerce doesn’t take this step in a vacuum. The EPA has received over 3,000 public comments. Many of these comments specifically call the science supporting the regulation into question. This has caused the traditional ad hominem response from Pro-Regulation forces. Joe Romm offers the Chamber of Commerse the opportunity “to declare whether they are evolved members of humanity or dedicated to our self-destruction.”

There is no humane and non-combative response to such a comment. “See you in court” is about what the Joe Romms of the world deserve. Let’s see if they have the guts to even show up.