On Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 2:43 PM, Bill McKibben, organizers> wrote:
Take on money pollution, declare "The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak for Me."
Together we’ve accomplished an awful lot in the last two years—we’ve built the first mass movement around climate change, with thousands of rallies around the country and around the world. We’ve put the basic science out where it can’t be ignored, and built a coalition of poor and affluent people around the planet. If pictures are worth a thousand words, well, we’ve got a lot of pictures. But we’re still losing the battle—more carbon is pouring into the atmosphere, temperatures keep setting new records, and our U.S. Congress still refuses to act.
So it’s time to turn up the other kind of heat, the political kind. For many years, everyone has assumed that if we simply manage to communicate the problem, it will lead to action. It hasn’t, for one simple reason: there’s too much money in the way. A wall of money that separates politicians from the scientific truth that we’re in a desperate crisis.
Big polluters spilled oil into the Gulf and lobbied to have American taxpayers clean up their mess, and those same industry groups are fighting tooth and nail to stop the EPA from protecting our air, water and atmosphere.
That’s why we’re going to spend much of this year taking on the single biggest source of that money pollution, the US Chamber of Commerce. They’re not like your local chamber of commerce—they’re essentially a front group for a few giant corporations.
Last year, just 16 companies provided more than 55% of their budget. They won’t say who those companies are, but their attempts to derail the EPA and the army of lobbyists they’ve hired to kill the Clean Air Act are pretty clear indicators of where the money is coming from. (That’s why we’re working with our friends at 1Sky to hold rallies at congressional offices around the country next week.)
We know we can’t shut off the supply of money to the US Chamber, but we can take their credibility down a few crucial notches.
Their power stems not just from money, but also from the perception that they represent, as they say on their web page, “3 million American businesses,” a whole continent full of barbers and florists and mechanics. We need to show—before the next elections—that they don’t. We need to show that most American businesspeople are ready for change, nimble enough to adapt and responsible about the future.
So here’s the plan: This coming week, we need you to take a few minutes to visit your friendly local coffee shop, florist, barber, pet shop, or other local business, and get the owner to sign the declaration that the “US Chamber Doesn’t Speak For Me.” You can find talking points and other great tips here.
Once we’ve gotten enough small businesses on board, we’ll ask local and state chambers of commerce if they’ll officially end their ties to the US Chamber. Many have already done so; we’re confident more will join in as this movement grows.
It’s not a complicated plan, but we need your help. If you’re a business owner or a member of a local chamber of commerce yourself, let us know, and we can help you challenge the U.S. Chamber effectively.
We’ve got other work on tap for this year too; we’ll be rolling out more campaigns as the months go on. We will be working closely with organizers and partners to jumpstart community climate solutions projects and fight dirty energy in every corner of the country. With your help, we’ll build local power in key places. But right now is the moment to start going after the deadly link between money and global warming.
Thanks for all you do,
Bill McKibben and the 350.org team
PS – Last week, some Members of Congress, goaded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, introduced bills to weaken the EPA and take away our right to clean air and clean energy. We’re partnering with 1Sky to hold rallies and drop-ins at politicians’ offices next week to fight back. Click here to see if there’s a rally or meeting near you.