I’m not a big fan of Wikipedia, since its entries can be wildly skewed by those with an ax to grind. Nevertheless, in this case it provides an adequate definition:

The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial. The term was first recorded in the 1930s.There is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant and that the actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as an impressive example and as a warning.

Earlier this week a show trial took place in Sweden. As described by Andy Revkin of the New York Times, this was an event “in which planet Earth [was] the plaintiff, humanity the defendant and a panel of Nobel Prize winners the jury.”

Like every good show trial, there was no pretense of neutrality during these proceedings. There was no possibility that the accused might be acquitted. This was an exercise, first and foremost, in political theatre.

The prosecutor was a gent named Will Steffen, who heads a climate change institute at the Australian National University. That institute’s website features a personal welcome from Steffen which begins with these words:

Climate change is rapidly becoming the defining challenge for humanity in the 21st century. Dealing with climate change demands new types of knowledge.

According to Steffen, the Swedish show trial “is a bold step.” But please notice that the web page devoted to this monstrous bit of drama quotes only Steffen the Prosecutor. There isn’t the slightest indication of who the defense lawyer is, never mind an equal-time quote from that individual.

Please also note that this same web page includes another quote from the Symposium Chair, Johan Rockström, who appears to have played the role of chief justice. He says:

We know the earth’s resilience and resource base cannot be stretched infinitely..business as usual is not an option anymore.it is time for the leaders of the world to act.

Rockström’s online bio tells us that, in 2010, he “was ranked the 2nd most influential person on environmental issues in Sweden.” Yeah, that’s who I’d choose to preside over a trial in which justice was supposed to be blind.

The show trial’s web page further tells us:

The court verdict will contribute to the Stockholm Memorandum to be signed by Nobel Laureates on 18 May. The Memorandum will be handed over in person to the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability appointed by the UN Secretary General in preparation for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio +20) and for the ongoing climate negotiations.

In other words, this really is all about politics. They’re in-you-face-blatant about it. The prestige of these Nobel laureates is being used to add luster to a UN panel, a UN conference, and UN climate talks.

I know we’re meant to be impressed by this group of elite scientists, politicians, and, cough, thinkers. But perhaps someone could explain why these busybodies think it’s their business to convict humankind wholesale.

Perhaps they could also explain why they invariably express more concern for the well-being of hypothetical future generations than for the toddlers who are dying of malaria right now. (According to the World Health Organization, an African child succumbs to that awful disease every 45 seconds.)

A few more details about this event are worth noting. Number one: the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences is the premiere host. It seem that, rather than championing logic and reason, science academies are now in the business of orchestrating political theatre.

Number two: the Swedish Postcode Lottery is this event’s core sponsor. That organization is supposed to raise money for charity. Apparently show trials that declare humans a plague on the planet are now charitable causes.

Are there no children’s hospitals in Sweden that could have used this funding?


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