From Bloomberg BNA,
A federal judge said he wanted to avoid having “the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 21st Century,” and ordered an environmental organization to remove claims based on climate change in its lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp.
Judge Mark Wolf said he did not want the lawsuit to turn into a trial about whether climate change exists, the way the 1925 trial about whether evolution could be taught in Tennessee public schools took up the debate about human origin…
Wolf said he would not dismiss the suit. But he told the environmental organization to amend its 14-count complaint and strip out major references to harm caused by climate change that would take place in 2050 and later.
I hadn’t thought of it before but I think the comparison is perfect! Almost 100 hundred years on from the Scopes trial, a large majority of rational, educated people correctly see that debate as a silly footnote to an ignorant, bygone era. Climate change is similar, except we were never seriously worried about the apes rising up and swamping us (you maniacs!)
But on a more serious note, why is a judge qualified to identify the best planning horizon when considering risk of failure of an industrial facility? That should depend on the expected life of the facility, external threats that might occur (like climate change), likelihood and consequence of failure during that period. If an oil and gas tank farm would tend to be retired or rebuilt every 30 years or so (and I suspect it might), it would make sense to take into account only the risks expected to take place over that time period, so 2050 might actually be a reasonable decision.