Opinion Extra

Dinosaur on climate change

The nation's future is clean technology. The news last week that venture investments in clean tech rose 10 percent from the previous quarter, and that the U.S. government has invested $60 billion in the sector, make that clear.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which purports to be the voice of the nation's businesses, has turned into a dinosaur when it comes to clean energy. The chamber's strong opposition to climate change legislation makes clear its allegiance to the destructive oil- and coal-based industries of yesteryear.

(Pacific Gas & Electric) took the extraordinary step of quitting the chamber earlier this month because of its "extreme rhetoric and obstructionist tactics." Companies and venture capital firms that have been proclaiming green credentials should follow suit. ...

It's one thing to oppose the federal cap and trade legislation to limit the amount of greenhouse gas companies can emit. Reasonable people can disagree on specific legislation. But the national chamber has gone beyond that to join the ideological fringe questioning the science of climate change. That signals it is completely out of touch with the vast majority of the world's scientists as well as the American business community.

The international race to embrace clean tech is under way, and the winners will emerge as the economic powers of this century. Who's in the running? While the United States was investing its $60 billion in clean tech, China was committing $80 billion.

The national chamber is calling for a public "trial" - which it touts as "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" - to weigh the scientific evidence that global warming endangers human health. Creating a political circus out of complex scientific data would make this country a laughingstock. But the national chamber remains a powerful lobby.

San Jose Mercury News