The Chamber of Commerce Wasn't Always So Short-Sighted - Used to Back Large Conservation Efforts


Adirondack mountains photo: bobistraveling via flickr.

It should be no secret to TreeHugger readers that the US Chamber of Commerce is one of the biggest obstructionist organizations out there regarding taking action on climate change. From questioning the science to most recently jumping on the "let's sue to EPA over the CO2 endangerment finding" bandwagon, the Chamber has really done all its can to muck up the works. As a new piece in Yale Environment 360 shows, the business lobby wasn't always so short-sightedly anti-environment:New York State Chamber of Commerce Backed Adirondack Park
In the late 1800s, faced with declining water levels in rivers and canals caused by rampant deforestation in the Adirondack region began raising the alarm in the New York state.

Something had to be done about it, and while there was strikingly similar debate about the impact human activity could really have on the environment as we are seeing today regarding global warming, ultimately the New York State Chamber of Commerce proposed that the state purchase some 4 million acres of forest to "keep it for all time as a great forest preserve"--what would form the beginning of the Adirondack Park, the largest publicly protected are of land in the continental United States.

Today Long-Term Sustainability Loses to Short-Term Profits
What did the New York Chamber do a century ago that today's national Chamber of Commerce doesn't? Well, first they actually listened to impartial scientific advice, but more importantly is that in the case of New York, they took a long term view of their members' interests:

The timber and railroad industries stood to make large profits from the destruction of the Adirondack forest. Nevertheless, the New York chamber focused not on these lost short-term profits but on the potentially devastating long-term economic impacts of Adirondack deforestation for all of its members...

Today, the U.S. chamber appears not to recognize the economic threat posed by climate change. Instead, the chamber's leadership continues to trot out exaggerated and one-sided claims about how the regulation of greenhouse gases would eliminate jobs and "strangle the economy." While some companies in the fossil fuel and power sectors will face reductions in profits under a cap-and-trade scheme, the long-term consequences of unchecked climate change will be harmful and expensive for everyone.

Read more: The US Chamber: A Record of Obstruction on Climate Action
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Tags: Conservation | United States