Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Civil War in the Chamber of Commerce

Not all businesses sacrifice everything for the bottom line.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents 3 million businesses in the United States. Its members list reads like a who’s who of American Industry and some 96% of the members are small businesses with less than 100 employees.

The Chamber is the single largest lobbying force in the country. Recently however the organization has displayed an ominous tilt to the right which is causing more than a little internal upheaval.

The primary issue at hand is the Chamber’s general position on Climate Change and, in particular, its position on the EPA’s recent scientific conclusion that Global Warming is driven by Greenhouse gases and therefore those gases represent a danger to human health. Given that conclusion, the EPA is obligated BY LAW to take steps to regulate and reduce that danger. The Supreme Court, in Massachusetts vs. The EPA, has already determined that Greenhouse emissions are within the charter of the agency.

The Chamber, along with assorted politicians, is taking the position that the EPA conclusion is premature because the science is still unsettled and has even filed suit against the EPA in federal court.

The Chamber has about zero chance of winning that suit for a variety of reasons and is most likely more interested in muddying public opinion as a delaying tactic or as a means of putting together political support for possible legislative action. Senator Lisa Murkowski, another Republican moron from Alaska, has already put on the Senate floor a “Resolution of Disapproval” related to the EPA decision. That resolution has as much chance of passing and getting signed by Obama as hell freezing over but again it serves to confuse the public.

If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. The “the science is still unsettled” crowd appears to know that it can’t win a factual technical argument with knowledgeable experts so it’s going for a political win with the non-knowledgeable electorate.

Sort of sounds like the Creationist's strategy doesn’t it?

The Civil War comes in because a number of companies reject the Chamber’s position on Climate Change and have resigned from the organization. Exelon, the country’s largest utility, California Utility PG&E, New Mexico Utility PNM and Apple Computer have all resigned outright. Nike has resigned from the Board of Directors but remains a member and GE has issued warning statements opposing the Chamber’s stand.

With the EPA conclusion, the clear scientific consensus is now that carbon emissions and other Greenhouse Gases are a major player in Global Warming, represent a significant danger, and need to be regulated and curtailed. Therefore I have to get off the fence and accept the scientific consensus.

Incredibly the Chamber of Commerce, when not claiming "the science is still unsettled,” is actually speculating that Global Warming might be “beneficial.” Exactly how they came to that conclusion is something of a mystery.

This is another example of people allowing short term benefit to potentially lead to long term disaster. They really need to acquaint themselves better with reality before making a decision. If you're sick you go to a doctor; if you're in legal trouble you go to a lawyer; why do people feel they can ignore or debate the expert consensus on climate change simply because they don't like that consensus. I'd be a complete idiot if I ignored the diagnoses of multiple doctors because I didn't like it or its implications.

The National Debt represents a potential economic problem for future generations but while it may cause hardship it’s unlikely to be fatal. Continuing to ignore Global Warming however not only has the potential to be an even greater economic problem it could turn out to be deadly.

Continuing to ignore or reject the science of Climate Change based upon unsupported opinion, political expediency or religious dogma strikes me as the epitome of stupidity. If you have contradictory evidence or interpretations, write the papers and present your arguments to knowledgeable technical experts. Don't try a political end run.

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