Chamber of Overstated Horrors

IT IS refreshing to see three energy companies — the nuclear power operator Exelon; Pacific Gas and Electric; and New Mexico’s largest electricity provider, PNM — quitting the US Chamber of Commerce over that organization’s increasingly shrill, doom-saying opposition to climate change legislation in Washington. The chamber claims that limits on greenhouse gas emissions by Congress or the Environmental Protection Agency would be “a job killer,” would “completely shut the country down,” or, even worse, “virtually destroy the United States.”

chamber-of-horrorsSo begins a great Boston Globe editorial, “Chamber of overstated horrors.”  These resignations really brought home the message of the Chamber’s extremism to the broader media in a tangible way (see Chamber of Horrors: The incredible, shrinking industry group falsely claims “We’ve never questioned the science behind global warming”).

The rest of editorial makes clear just how much the Chamber brought this on themselves with its Luddite call for “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” on global warming:

The chamber went completely off the rails in August. It proposed to take the climate change debate all the way back to the 1920s, to a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century.” William Kovacs, the chamber’s vice president for environmental regulation, told the Los Angeles Times that a public hearing on the evidence of climate change “would be evolutionism versus creationism. It would be the science of climate change on trial.”

The verdict has long been in from the vast majority of climate scientists that humans are changing the atmosphere. What’s becoming increasingly clear is that fighting climate change is good for business, because restrictions on carbon emissions will foster innovations in efficiency and renewable-energy technologies. Last month at a forum in New York – organized in part by the Boston-based business and environmental coalition Ceres – a group of 181 investors handling more than $13 trillion in global assets called for greenhouse gas emission reductions of between 50 percent and 85 percent by 2050.

Going backward eight decades was too much for Exelon, PG&E and PNM. Also protesting somewhat this week was Nike. The sneaker maker did not quit the chamber, but resigned from the board of directors. These are welcome cracks in the stone wall of the chamber. The question is how many more of the chamber’s 3 million members need to quit before the organization alters its retrograde view.

10 Responses to Chamber of Overstated Horrors

  1. Jeff Green says:

    They just can’t break that solid link of co2 effecting climate. Right now they are choking on their own co2 exhaust.

  2. Phil Eisner says:

    A couple of common communication problems come up when trying to discuss global warming with a Chamber of Commerce. One is the problem of economic externalities; small businesses and their customers rarely have had to pay for environmental damage they directly or indirectly cause. Thus,when they suspect that climate change legislation will cause them to pay, they are resentful and often confused about the economics.

    The second problem is that the media always refers to those who are advocating climate change legislation as “environmentalists.” Chamber of Commerce members, in turn, have an immediate negative emotional response to environmentalists – they are liberal and they invariably cost money for Chamber members without any benefit to their members except a societal benefit.

    How to educate business men to think long-range about their customer relations and societal greater good and thus change change their culture are the tasks we must undertake.

  3. Brooks Bridges says:

    Joe: My RSS feed is not updating. I’ve checked it several different times. The latest post it shows is “What’s in a name?…” This is first time I’ve seen this.

  4. paulm says:

    The second problem is that the media always refers to those who are advocating climate change legislation as “environmentalists.”

    Good point Phil. The fringe concept of an Environmentalist has change.

    AGW is affecting not only our life style, but our very existence.

    Everyone has a stake in the changes required to tackle the issue.
    Everyone is an Environmentalist now.

  5. paulm says:

    Project planning is finally recognizing the impacts. This in turn is ‘educating’ those involved and alerting the public to how serious and imminent the problem is.

    Below the realization that their tourist industry is going to disappear and beach front property will be sea front property before long is sinking in.

    Rising sea prompts concern about sand replenishment

    environmental groups are challenging the wisdom of spending millions of dollars to put sand on area beaches — especially if it is only going to wash back out to sea.

    …expected to dramatically accelerate the rate of rise between now and 2100.
    [why is the date 2100 use so frequently. Its now and for the foreseeable future. paulm]

  6. Pierre Champagne says:

    With the rest of the world shifting to lower carbon emissions, the US will be the big loser if it does not. American technology will quickly become date and un-exportable! That is going to kill jobs and wealth in a massive way.

    Check Alternative Strategies for CO2 Reduction, Carbon emissions, Renewable Energy, Resource Conservation…

    for some of the arguments and a strategy that would boost green technology and give countries that adopt it an edge in today’s and tomorrow’s markets.

    Tags: Global Warming Solutions, Carbon Taxes, Green Markets

  7. mike roddy says:

    There is a misconception that member businessmen of all kinds drive the Chamber’s climate change position. I have experience with trade organizations (steel, timber), and learned that they are staffed by incompetents. They get promoted by hollering the loudest about any perceived threat to short term profits, and get extra points for opposing even common sense environmental legislation.

    The problem is really in the timidity of the membership. Kudos to the three firms that quit, but out of three million members? Many of these companies are staffed by people who are fully aware of the dangers of climate change, including to the longevity of their companies. Let’s see if more of them can break out of this strange groupthink “discipline” that we see in the Republican Party.

  8. Wes Rolley says:

    I like to think that the local entities do much better, as they should. In my home town, Morgan Hill, CA, the City and the Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Affairs Committee. They seem to have a dual role of attracting more green businesses to the community (on the edge of Silicon Valley) and also to help existing businesses become themselves more green, use less energy, less water, etc.

    If the national chamber listened to its local chapters instead of the “big people” like a Chairman from Union Pacific who hauls more coal than anyone.

    Change is happening… just blind leadership can’t see it.

    Wes Rolley
    CoChair, EcoAction Committee, Green Party US.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Excelon has a lot to gain from climate legislation because a 1000 megawatt nuclear power plant makes 14.7 Million tons per year LESS CO2 than a coal fired power plant of the same capacity.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Small businesses should read and understand the Clint Eastwood article in this issue of Climate Progress. By definition, Small businesses produce less than 25,000 tons of CO2 per year and are thus immune to EPA regulation.